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In addition to using the maturity model to ensure you are building the necessary groundwork for success, here are several ways you can ensure your hybrid cloud is working for you as effectively as possible.

How to get the most out of your hybrid cloud

1. Make sure you are aligned with the business. 

To develop a hybrid cloud approach that provides great value to the business, you need to map business goals to the benefits of cloud computing for the applications that would benefit from hybrid cloud. You should consider your organization's data strategy, security strategy, digital transformation strategy, geographic distribution, and any other plans, initiatives or events that may impact your hybrid cloud plan, such as another potential pandemic or natural disaster.

You should also consider engaging people from different areas of the business beyond IT, gathering input and perspective from business owners, users, developers, human resources, finance and legal experts as necessary as it relates to the applications in question. Insight from the business is one of the best ways to ensure the success of your plan. In fact, Gartner asserts that "the most common mistake that organizations make with their cloud computing strategy is to assume that it concerns only IT… Business and IT should be equal partners in defining the cloud strategy."

IT needs to partner more and show real value back to the organization or risk more shadow IT behaviors -- organizations consuming public cloud without IT's (including security's) knowledge and blessing.

2. Fully assess your workloads so you can prioritize them. 

With workloads numbering potentially in the hundreds or thousands, this is a tall but crucial order. Many organizations have no idea how many applications they have, not to mention which applications a given service consists of or depends on. For example, is it a multi-tier application, microservices, or enterprise applications and services ("care and feeding" apps such as Active Directory, DNS, NTP, etc.)? This discovery is the only way you will have a clear understanding of the real cost of each application. You also need to determine the value to the business each application provides today and assess the value they will provide in the future based on your business's strategy, industry changes and other relevant factors.

3. Develop your approach to services and multicloud strategy. 

Get agreement from relevant interests in your organization on your overall strategy for services, such as whether you prefer to build and keep those capabilities on-premises, use a public cloud provider's services or go to another third-party provider, based on different types of cases.

Identify which hybrid cloud solutions and which services should be part of your multicloud strategy. Maybe that's offering a VMware Hybrid Cloud (sharing VMware software defined infrastructure between on-premises and public cloud for VMware virtual machines, skillsets and operational tooling) and a container platform like Google Cloud's Anthos (to enable a containerization strategy for new application development across clouds) in conjunction with a public cloud whose services you like or want to capitalize on, such as Google Cloud's artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) capabilities or Azure AD for SSO or AWS Lambda serverless functions. 

Also, decide how to adopt these solutions in ways that satisfy the governance, compliance and security concerns of the organization. This will effectively become the organization's cloud strategy, a living document that must be revisited from time-to-time in order to define what "good" will look like.

4. Build in security every step of the way. 

Many security issues in the cloud arise because companies are unclear what their responsibilities are for their data. Getting clear on exactly what your provider will do versus what you need to cover is just the first step to ensuring you have effective cloud security. Public cloud providers have typically out invested most organizations in security, but the challenge faced by many organizations is how to access and adjust those knobs to the desired settings. Whether or not you have the knowledge and skill set to do that appropriately is completely on you

5. Establish a governance and management process. 

Visibility is the key. Public cloud providers and private cloud solutions both offer capabilities to look across multiple clouds -- for example, to monitor usage -- sometimes at an additional charge and with different levels of feature parity across cloud platforms. Paid third-party solutions attempt to provide visibility more uniformly across multiple cloud platforms with varying degrees of success. 

Visibility is also necessary to make informed decisions that take advantage of the hybrid cloud's application and data mobility. This level of visibility is required to move up in hybrid cloud maturity, reaching the automation of both the decision-making process, the actions/tasks that come out of it and the operational testing to ensure success.

6. Manage cost expectations. 

In most cases, organizations will need to achieve a high level of maturity around visibility and governance to realize significant cost savings from cloud. Many of the worst-case regret scenarios for public cloud are the direct result of organizations going all in upfront and then failing to mature once there.

Many organizations also do not fully comprehend that various cloud pricing models have different financial implications. For example, it is typically agreed that IaaS costs go down over time because the hardware is essentially a zero-sum game with CPU, memory (usually), storage and networking costs getting spread across ever-advancing capabilities. However, in 2021's current environment, chip shortages and increased demand may be making this belief untrue. Additionally, for some public cloud services (such as cold storage solutions like Amazon Glacier) this may never have been the case. SaaS costs, on the other hand, typically increase over time as SaaS providers add capabilities to their platforms and expect to see compensation for the additional value. Obviously cloud providers recognize this -- given the fact that even though IaaS is still the core of their business -- they continue to offer more "managed" capabilities like databases-as-a-service or serverless functions. 

7. Choose the most appropriate integration approach for your organization. 

With a hybrid cloud, integration is obviously a key issue, especially when it comes to optimizing business processes or gaining real-time access to data across various systems and providers. 

You have several basic approaches to integration to choose from, including: 

  • Shared software-defined models, such as VMware Hybrid Cloud or AWS Outposts.
  • Container platforms, such as Google Anthos or Red Hat OpenShift.
  • Third party / ISV (independent software vendor) solutions, such as NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP or Cisco Cloud ACI
  • Migration tools, such as Google's Migrate for Compute Engine or AWS Application Migration Service.

8. Try it before you buy it. 

Ideally, you will be able to test drive your hybrid cloud solution before deploying it into production. Our Advanced Technology Center (ATC) is a great way to find out what works, what doesn't, and exactly how your specific workloads will run on specific cloud platforms. We have numerous technologies up and running, so you can make informed decisions without having to buy it to test it. It's a great way to minimize risk, mature your cloud capabilities and ensure you will get the business outcomes you need. 

9. Continuously analyze your workload placement and migrate it to the place that offers the most value. 

As cloud has evolved, the concept of placing a workload in the one "best" place and leaving it there has changed radically. Today, with so many expanded placement options, it makes more sense to continuously reassess workloads to determine if the placement is ideal for the outcome you currently desire, or if moving to a different model will provide more value.

Continuous reassessment and placement are only possible at the highest levels of hybrid cloud maturity, with sophisticated visibility, governance and advanced automation capabilities. 

WWT cloud services

Comprehending all of this is essential to successfully leverage a hybrid cloud, yet it can be overwhelming. It may be beneficial to work with a third party with deep expertise to set you up for success. At WWT, we help numerous customers anchor, develop or reset their cloud strategy with our application discovery, dependency mapping and migration services, as well as cloud candidacy assessments to determine the best platform for a given application or service.

Explore cloud services from WWT.