3 Factors to Consider When Transitioning to a Hybrid Cloud Strategy


A hybrid cloud strategy enables organizations to utilize their IT resources more efficiently. But, implementing a hybrid cloud can be challenging. This article by Aron Brand, CTO of CTERA Networks, takes a look at some of the common hybrid cloud adoption pain points and offers practical solutions. 

The hybrid cloud computing environment brings private cloud and public cloud services together with orchestration utilized between the two platforms. This cloud strategy is increasingly gaining traction; almost 70 percent of enterprises are engaged in a hybrid cloud strategy, according to RightScale’s 2019 State of the Cloud ReportOpens a new window .

Enterprises can easily and cost-effectively respond to fluctuations in IT workloads by utilizing a hybrid cloud strategy to expand and contract IT resourcesOpens a new window as needed. Although this approach is great, implementing a hybrid cloud strategy can have its challenges. When engaging in a hybrid cloud strategy, three common concerns can emerge. However, they can be mitigated with a little proactive planning. 

1. Excessive Cloud Spending

The cloud has gained momentum and millions of converts because it is easy to engage with. The self-service public cloudOpens a new window can spin dozens of test servers, launch hundreds of containers, and consume terabytes of storage. This is not a problem if those resources are overseen and removed as they are no longer needed. But if a test environment remains in force for a period of time, your company is going to have to pay for it.

Cloud providers are notorious for failing to alert clients about resource usage and wasteful resource allocations. This creates a resource sprawl problem that can quickly become unmanageable. 

IT managers find it challenging to differentiate between the resources that are necessary and the ones that can be removed when confronted with hundreds of uncatalogued S3 buckets, snapshots, and volumes. 

For instance, if you start servers that are large and don’t have proper monitoring of cloud resources, it would be dangerous to replace them with smaller ones. It’s ironic, but cloud projects with the objective of providing increased elasticity and cost reductions by only paying for the capacity you use often lead to an overabundance of cloud resources.

Be meticulous about tracking and monitoring cloud resources from day one to avoid this cloud sprawl. Clear policy definition on public cloud usage, along with resource tagging, can help. Be sure to set up compulsory review cycles for all resources, and purchase the best monitoring tools the organization can afford.

Learn More: 4 Questions to Consider Before Adopting a Multi-Cloud Strategy 

2. Network Latency and Your Data Center Expectations

Most of the time, on-premises data centers perform better than cloud-based data centers. A hybrid cloudOpens a new window model that houses some of your organization’s resources in the public cloud adds latency. Applications that were designed to work over a LAN will not operate as well if you relocate them to a cloud data center that is accessible by WAN.

Storage services can be of particular concern in this scenario. When storage moves to the public cloud while some storage clients remain on-prem, it is not uncommon to have users comment about slower performance – even with high bandwidth network links in place. 

Consider the case of a script that deletes all files in a folder. There are 10,000 files in this folder. Over the LAN with no latency, this script takes about 1 millisecond per file, totaling 10 seconds to delete all the files. Move this file server to a cloud datacenter Opens a new window located across the country, and an 80-millisecond latency per transaction is added. The result is that each deletion takes 81 milliseconds. Now the same process takes 13.5 minutes instead of 10 seconds—that’s 81 times slower.

The most cost-effective way to mitigate storage latency with legacy applications is to employ a cloud storage gateway (aka edge filer). These filers serve as hybrid cloud storage “helper”, retaining an on-premises cache for data stored in the public cloud. Cloud storage gateways provide the efficient operation of cloud storage without requiring any revisions.

Learn More: How Cloud Computing Can Help Us Survive the COVID-19 CrisisOpens a new window

3. Proprietary Relationships

Hybrid cloud strategies and deployments often come with proprietary relationships. One-stop shopping is convenient but locking a single cloud provider, most often AWS or MS Azure, may be easier at first. But ultimately, it will be an expensive decision over time. 

The dependence your organization will have on that one cloud provider will be all-encompassing. If the tech is not a fit or if the provider decides to raise rates, the organization won’t have many choices except to conform. Cloud vendors are known for offering low pricing for data storage while charging higher fees for retrieving data down the road.

Take time to make your organization’s hybrid cloud choices. A business does not require two (or more) cloud providers from day one. One way to avoid vendor lock-in is to use hybrid cloud-agnostic technologies. Kubernetes is becoming a standard, allowing good portability across clouds. Look for storage solutions that are not tied to a single cloud vendor. Ensure they support cloud migration and multi-cloud from day one.

As your organization turns to a hybrid cloud strategy, ensure that it monitors cloud resource consumption, deploys cloud storage gateways to overcome latency, and avoids dependence on a single cloud vendor. These three strategies can help your organization to avert some common pitfalls and ensure that only the best choices are made in a successful hybrid cloud implementation.

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