The best of both worlds: Making the most of your Hybrid IT strategy

Living through ‘unprecedented times’ is nothing new for organisations

Businesses have always had to deal with highs and lows and adapt accordingly. The pandemic has shown that the flexibility to maximise or minimise the impact of planned or unplanned opportunities or threats is vital.

Hybrid working and hybrid socialising will be in place for the foreseeable, and many predict that a hybrid working model will remain even when life goes back to ‘normal’. Hybrid IT, on the other hand, isn’t new, but adoption, having increased for the last few years, has seen a boost as companies look for the answer to safeguard against future disruption.

Put simply, Hybrid IT is the mixture of IT infrastructure platforms – legacy on-premise and private/public hybrid clouds – that an enterprise uses to satisfy its application workload and data needs. It is the perfect solution for companies that demand agility, scalability and an OPEX cost model of the cloud, but want consistent performance and control of security, compliance, and costs long term. Hybrid IT is about deciding which workloads should be deployed to the cloud, and which should run on a company’s infrastructure.

So how do organisations decide what goes where?

Gaps in cloud compliance

The move towards greater use of the cloud has followed growing concerns on the management and protection of data. Cyber threats are continuing to evolve and accelerate, and the skills required to defend against are becoming more complex.

Regulations such as the GDPR bring additional rights and safeguards for individuals, but the move towards cloud IT could expose a compliance gap – especially for organisations that handle personal data. Organisations that host their data on-premise in local storage systems should be in a position to identify the location of most, hopefully all, of their data, quite quickly and those that host data elsewhere could have concerns over not knowing where the data is stored.

However, one of the challenges with public cloud adoption are the skills required to build and maintain it. Do organisations have the skills to ensure that data that is stored on-premise is secure and compliant? For many organisations, meeting compliance and regulatory requirements can be easier to achieve using private clouds. Just because organisations have outsourced their data storage, it doesn’t mean they can outsource responsibility for compliance, however. Organisations must ensure third-party cloud providers meet current standards and show due diligence. Complying with laws such as the GDPR and penalties for breaches fall squarely on the organisation, so assessing any gaps in compliance is key.

Performance enhancing infrastructure, but at what cost?

As an organisation considers infrastructure options, it doesn’t need to choose only one model. The best approach is often a combination of clouds and infrastructures to best meet the requirements of the business.

One approach, often referred to as ‘own the base and rent the spike’ addresses cost and performance requirements. A common scenario for organisations to experience is spikes in demand, such as sales events that drive increased traffic but still require consistent performance. A public cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) environment provides the agility and scalability to rapidly accommodate these demand spikes. Traditionally this is addressed by scaling out a web or application tier during these spikes and contracting outside of such periods.

Conversely, public cloud, as well as some multi-tenant private cloud offers, are usually a pay per use model, meaning an organisation pays for the infrastructure it rents only for the time it is being rented. Renting IaaS capacity can be very cost efficient, when compared to throwing money at the problem and purchasing hardware, as you are not investing in unused capacity outside of demand spikes.

Owning the base on the other hand is about calculating the capacity needed to securely support the steady state outside of demand spikes, and procuring the capacity and associated hosting, such as buying servers, networking on storage to be hosted on-premise or in a collocated data centre. This is a relatively simple exercise for existing applications, but when there are new applications to be deployed how much capacity does an organisation need? One simple way of addressing this is to rent capacity in the cloud and then evaluate the utilisation and performance needs of that application, then procure the resulting requirements and deploy it on company owned infrastructure. This approach can very quickly identify the true capacity and performance needs prior to committing to a large capital outlay. Not applying this approach, however, can result in significant overprovisioning. Analysis of customer purchased capacity and performance, compared to what is actually used, often shows significant levels of over provision, which is all wasted investment. Buying the base provides organisations with the peace of mind that they are meeting their predictable needs, while renting the spike accommodates the unpredictable.

When adopting clouds, the on-premise IT footprint is reduced. However not all workloads are suitable for cloud deployment, meaning there are often legacy systems that need accommodation, and maintaining an on-premise hosting for a smaller footprint does not always make economic sense. Many organisations recognise the benefits of utilising a co-location facility to meet the needs of legacy workloads, because they offer advanced hosting and support capabilities with resilient power cooling and networking that would simply be over-kill to deliver on-premise for a smaller set of workloads. Many organisations can then repurpose on-premise hosting environments into more productive space.

The best of both worlds

The benefit of the ‘own the base, rent the spike’ scenario is that it ensures maximum cost-efficiency, performance, security, and reliability, with the least risk of lost revenues and customers. In essence, it’s the best of both worlds, which, of course, is what hybrid IT is all about.

The success of a business isn’t just about one application, one workload or one environment. It’s the ability for all applications and workloads to reliably work together within or across multiple environments and to always be available. Today, that’s what keeps a business moving forward.

About the Author

Chris Huggett, Senior Vice President, Europe & India at Sungard Availability Services. Sungard Availability Services (“Sungard AS”) keeps your business running all day, every day. Sungard AS partners with customers across the globe to understand their business objectives, identify gaps in their current infrastructure technology environment and tailor a plan to deliver the highly available, cloud connected infrastructure services they need to achieve their desired business outcomes.

Featured image: ©Maksim Kabakou