Cloud 101: Are You Hybrid?

Apr 29, 2018

Are you cloud ready?

Do you have a cloud strategy?

Are you hybrid? 

Businesses today are bombarded by various campaigns calling out the need for organizations to “move to the cloud.” With hybrid cloud environments becoming the new standard, this language and the implications that go along with it aren’t going away.

But what does “moving to the cloud” or “becoming hybrid” really mean, and even more importantly, what does it mean for your business?

Let’s start with what it’s not. Regardless of all the common marketing lingo, the cloud is not a physical destination. The cloud is a thing. It’s a set of technologies that can drive massive efficiencies in your business through secure storage, workload management, processing of data and more. This thing is governed by workloads and where those workloads belong. Using various combinations of on-premises and cloud storage for your different workloads (public cloud and private cloud) constitutes being hybrid.

With the cloud often incorrectly referred to as a destination, many organizations are left to grapple with the need to capitalize on this new trend along with a lack of information on how and why they should do so.

Too often, when businesses seek cloud solutions from PCM, sales representatives hear things such as, “Well, we have an initiative to be completely cloud by X date,” or “We’re going to move our business to the cloud.” But there may be little understanding of what this actually means for their business or how to do it, says Todd Pekats, vice president of PCM’s Stratiform consulting unit.

Once customers recognize that this conversation is really around workloads, the idea of “moving to the cloud” and “becoming hybrid” becomes much less daunting.

To understand which cloud solutions are right for your business, and how to get on the right track for your potential cloud migration, consider going through the following steps:

  1. Do an inventory of what you have 

Many organizations today go through acquisitions and mergers. As such, they may not have a comprehensive grasp on what data, which applications and other information exist in their data centers or how that data is being used.

Do you have applications that are dependent on each other?

What type of compliance mandates might apply to the data you have?

Are you even aware of all the applications currently running in your environment? According to Ponemon Institute’s 2016 Application Security Risk Management Study, 69 percent of organizations don’t know all the apps and databases currently in their organization.

Without a clear understanding of the software and hardware in your environment, “moving to the cloud” is not only premature, but it could cost your organization extra time, money and added risk of being out of compliance.

To deploy any cloud services, understanding your applications and infrastructure is a must. You will need to know how these variables interact with each other, where they live, what technology requirements the applications have, any privacy or security mandates that are applicable and any other business implications these items have.

Knowing these things will enable you with a better understanding of which workloads you can migrate to the cloud, and which ones may need to stay on premises, and ultimately – where you can drive efficiencies for your organization.

  1. Understand how your IT assets connect with one another 

Once you understand the applications and data center components that your business has, the next step is to analyze how those pieces connect to one another. Understanding how they connect and interact will help you determine potential dependencies that may prohibit you from moving particular workloads to the cloud. What are the pathways, the dependencies and interdependencies that these items have?

Without a thorough knowledge of what you have, you risk breaking these integral connections – which can cause a host of issues within your organization including extra IT spend, increased cost and other inefficiencies.

  1. Identify ownership and maintenance of applications 

Who owns your applications? What is driving this application? How are these applications maintained? Answering these questions is imperative to determining your cloud migration strategy.

Determining who owns your applications is a key determinant of which workloads you can move to the cloud – whether that’s the private cloud or public. Not all information is created equal! While some workloads can be run in the public cloud, others may have strict privacy and security mandates that you can’t ignore.

Software containing payment data, banking information, employee information and highly regulated information such as healthcare records or medical research are all examples of workloads many organizations lean away from moving to the cloud due to the high risk and the regulations that apply.

Understanding the applications you own helps break down this issue – enabling you to take a harder look at which workloads you can, or even should move to a cloud, and any items (such as licensing, legal, compliance) that could prohibit you from moving specific workloads.

  1. Determine which workloads make sense to move 

Going beyond the workloads you can move to the cloud is the question of what workloads make sense to move and run in a cloud environment.

Do you have applications that package and ship a large amount of data? These applications may not be the most cost-effective use of cloud storage. Why? Because moving data takes time and money to do. Instead, these applications should be placed in a local data center so that the data does not need to continuously move in or out of the cloud. This will also enable you to avoid some latency issues that you may incur by moving such applications to the cloud.

When you decide to move workloads to the cloud, choose workloads with minimal interdependencies and limited movement of data. Doing so will ensure that you get the most out of your cloud investment.

Don’t get overwhelmed by your cloud deployment options. While “being hybrid” is a trend that is here to stay, it is imperative that businesses take a deep look at the technologies that exist in their environment to inform their cloud strategy. Without these key steps, “being hybrid,” with all of its benefits, may result in unnecessary cost and inefficiencies in your organization.

To learn more about how you can properly strategize your cloud deployment and take the right steps to becoming hybrid, click here.

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