We are in the midst of rapidly changes in the way consumers want to interact with their suppliers. This change is causing a disruption in business models and technology innovation. The result has led to the birth of digital organizations Businesses are dealing with these changes by moving to cloud computing models that have enabled them to introduce competitively priced products fasters. With the movement to the cloud it has become clear that there are many different deployment models depending on the nature of the workloads. Therefore, organizations will require a hybrid approach combining on premises and public cloud deployments.

In this two part series, we will look at the requirements of formulating a comprehensive hybrid cloud strategy.

In the second part we will look at the importance of keeping the underlying data managed in the hybrid cloud secure and well governed.

Part I

Four Requirements to Create a Hybrid Cloud Environment

Organizations of all sizes have been moving workloads to the cloud for the past several years. Many executives have come to terms with the complexities of relying on one cloud deployment model. Therefore, the idea of combining public and private clouds with Software as a Service (SaaS) applications is becoming the norm for businesses coping with rapid change. However, the journey for an enterprise to move to a hybrid cloud environment is not a simple process of linking to a series of external services to support changing business needs.

Most business leaders are looking at the combination of deployment to meet workload requirements, customer expectations and cost constraints. However, because there are so many disconnected services, the movement to the hybrid cloud requires a roadmap and a well thought out strategy. In our view, the movement to a hybrid cloud provides an excellent opportunity for Line of Business (LoB) leaders to collaborate with IT management to plan a strategic roadmap that support the fast pace of business change. If there is anything businesses have learned, it is that it’s impossible to anticipate what changes may happen in a specific industry or what technologies will upend an entire market. One of the benefits of the flexibility of the hybrid cloud is that it architected to support change.

Many organizations are enabling departments to move fast by selecting cloud based imperatives to support important business initiatives. Successful IT leaders have found techniques for partnering with business leaders to provide the right services in a secure and governed manner. There is indeed a sense of urgency to move quickly. But without a roadmap that provides consistency and predictability, it will be difficult to prepare for the future and implement changes when needed. In this blog, we will provide an overview of four requirements that success organizations are undertaking in order to create a predictable and scalable environment.

Requirement 1: Establish a framework

Creating a hybrid cloud strategy is a collaborative effort across different stakeholders within the organization. A company needs to have a step-by-step approach to producing measurable results. Therefore, it is important to establish a timeline and a roadmap. For example, you may plan an 18-month role out of your cloud strategy across your entire organization. However, you need to demonstrate results quickly. Therefore, it is pragmatic to implement your plan in stages. For example, you may select three or four key public cloud services that your security organization has vetted for security and reliability and make those services available to various departments. You may also find that there are several key SaaS applications that are instrumental in helping the business jump-start a new business initiative. This approach allows you to demonstrate to the business benefits quickly. As the old saying goes, success leads to success. Business leaders will see that the emerging hybrid cloud infrastructure is making a significant difference in the pace of business.

Requirement 2: Establish a process in order to abstraction complexity

A successful approach to creating a hybrid cloud environment means that you have to think about ways to abstract complexity. This new environment helps eliminate the difficulties of dealing with multiple isolated systems that cannot work together easily. Business leaders have little patience for excuses about why systems can’t work together or exchange data. They expect imperatives that deliver results.

By abstracting complexity, companies can create self-service portals. These portals allow employees to get access to the data or services they need without having to access and manage each individual system. The user doesn’t need to know the technical details of each individual service; instead the user is told what the service does and how it should be used. In this way, the business user can combine the services they need to create new applications. The complex process of data integration and orchestration are predefined and hidden from the user. This services architectural approach allows developers to effectively create new and disruptive imperatives that exceed customer expectations.

Requirement 3: Move to a modular approach to create business services

In an ideal world, companies would simply create modular business services that are free of dependencies. In reality, most businesses organizations operate a variety of data center applications, departmental systems, private clouds, public clouds, managed services, and Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. Companies must find ways to link the data services so they data can be leveraged to provide a variety of business imperatives

. Well-designed Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are helping organization tie these services together to create modular and flexible services based on a unified architecture. In addition to APIs, microservices and containerization has emerged as an important technology for creating modular services. Microservices are independent application services designed without dependencies that can be linked together through APIs to create modular applications. Containers allow developers to encapsulate code and microservices into well-define business services. Containers also help developers create reusable modules that can be used in other projects or leveraged by colleagues. Your organization’s ability to quickly adapt to market changes will depend on creating an environment where users can take advantage of pre-tested modular components.

Requirement 4: Focus on Security and Governance

This new architectural approach has to be planned based on a comprehensive security framework and roadmap. While each individual application and service may have its own built in security services, the hybrid environment requires a level of security based on the composite of all of the services you are using. For example, you might have one set of security services in your data center and a completely different set of security requirements for a public cloud service. Therefore, you need a set of rules that apply across the data center, the public and private clouds. You will need governance rules based on data locality requirements. You will need to make sure that data privacy requirements are adapted to the circumstances of your customers. However, across all of these services, security and governance must be the overriding requirement.

Conclusion

The roadmap and plan to create a flexible and predictable hybrid cloud environment is a journey that will have many stages. Your starting point will largely depend on the maturity of your company's IT infrastructure combined with your changing business requirements. The most successful companies create a teaming approach. These companies bring together all the key stakeholders as part of the planning process. The goal of the planning is to have a consistent roadmap and plan that everyone can agree on. Implementing a roadmap in manageable and achievable steps will lead to success.