What is the Hybrid Cloud?

what is the hybrid cloud

As businesses expand their use of cloud-based services, a hybrid cloud approach to developing the network infrastructures they need is fast becoming the norm. What is the hybrid cloud, and what impact is this approach to cloud services having on CIOs, CTOs and their enterprises?

Silicon in Focus – interview with Dave Locke, Field CTO EMEA at WWT

Dave Locke is WWT’s EMEA Field CTO responsible for driving innovative solutions across WWT’s customer base; supporting businesses to modernise their IT, adopt new technologies and drive digital transformation programs.

How are businesses using the hybrid cloud today?

A hybrid strategy allows enterprises to host their applications and business services on the most suitable platforms to help deliver best in class solutions. This can include the power of the public cloud; consuming CRM or HR payroll systems from SaaS providers; or running mission-critical apps in the private cloud to secure IP and sensitive data on premise. A complete and thorough hybrid strategy will evaluate the best components of each platform and piece them together into one holistic solution. Cost should remain a concern, but it should not be the sole arbiter when it comes to a hybrid cloud deployment.

A hybrid strategy also allows businesses to adopt a flexible and sensible growth strategy. Using public or private cloud services can allow a business to scale performance and distribution with fewer overheads and deliver new capabilities without a huge spend. For global enterprises that want to operate with a reduced footprint, leveraging different parts of the hybrid cloud can help with data and governance. For example, an EU business wishing to operate in APJ can push data closer to its customers with the public cloud, avoiding the costs of founding private servers in the territory.”

What are the critical aspects of security when building and using a hybrid cloud deployment?

Companies are very keen to migrate to the cloud, but in the race to adopt new technology, it can be easy to lose sight of what this migration means in reality. Adopting the public cloud into your technology strategy comes with security implication: In adopting multiple cloud technologies, you also multiply the number of entry points for attacks and data leaks. Therefore, building a robust and data compliant strategy is an important part of any hybrid cloud deployment.

In hybrid cloud deployments, all parties must be clear on their areas of responsibility. Clearly, the security of the on-premises solution is the responsibility of the enterprise itself. However, the responsibility of securing the private and public cloud solutions must be clearly defined between the enterprise and the solution provider to ensure there is no lack of oversight and the whole stack is thoroughly defended and monitored. While responsibility must be clearly defined, ultimate accountability resides with the enterprise itself. If the public cloud provider were the source of a leak, the reputational damage would still fall on the company the customer did business with.

In the public cloud, there is also an ever-evolving risk (botnets can automate a cyberattack in 15 seconds) from malicious actors looking to compromise businesses. In this environment, they should ask themselves what data they need to move to the cloud and why. If data can be more securely and robustly confined to on premises, then do the risks outweigh the benefits of migration? For large enterprises with vast amounts of data and legacy infrastructure, this question must be carefully considered.

What are the cost parameters for migrating to a hybrid cloud?

Companies can view moving business processes to the public cloud as cheaper and easier. It is often more complicated. The cloud brings with it many positives, but companies should not just seek the most affordable solution. The strategy should be aligned to company goals and the best return on investment, not only cost cutting.

This is where time to market and quality become essential considerations in the cloud selection process. If a service costs more but will be operational quicker and provide a better service, it’s value to the organisation increases even if the cost of the solution goes up. This value could be even higher if the hybrid solution improves time to market, enabling the business to introduce solutions and services ahead of its competitors and generating revenue earlier. The bottom line is that the operation cost isn’t the only consideration.

What are the critical pressure points CIOs are feeling today about the hybrid cloud?

Before adopting any cloud strategy CIOs need to ask themselves a fundamental question: are you actually enhancing the customer experience or inadvertently detracting from it?

Adopting public cloud should not be a case of just following the latest trend but should consist of delivering real benefit to both the business and customers. Most CIOs worry about hearing ‘what is our cloud strategy?’ from a CEO that has recently read the term somewhere. From this perspective, there is currently a lot of hype and vendor noise, so businesses should make sure they are not adopting a cloud strategy out of fear. Instead, the CIO should do their homework before selecting any strategy; and ideally, they should seek to undertake an objective audit from a trusted third party.

When adopting a hybrid cloud strategy, a clear plan is crucial. Do you understand what you are doing and why? And who is going to lead you there? During implementation, the CIO should ensure they are constantly testing the output in labs and, addressing the application experience. Part of this relies on an enterprise to address three clear areas of impact as part of its strategy: The impact on security; the impact on customers; and the impact on employees. For a hybrid cloud deployment to work, all three areas must be carefully considered.