Key questions to consider when evaluating hybrid cloud

Jerry McLeod, VP of business development, HotLink

4. How will we manage the hybrid environment? 

You need to consider compute, network and storage together and ensure their hybrid management construct is capable of easily spanning a range of on- and off-premise platforms and resources at a very granular level. To be operationally efficient, you need a single point of administration and management across the hybrid resource pool a self-service portal alone will not be sufficient for day-to-day administration operations.

The ideal would be to have a hybrid management solution that is lightweight, thorough and cost-effective. When managing a hybrid configuration, you need to base these choices on individual requirements: Are they highly regulated? Who will be accessing the information? What is the information? And so on. Regardless of the answers, the best situation is to manage the hybrid cloud and on-premise workloads from a single point. Optimally, the hybrid resources would just work seamlessly with the existing management portfolio.

5. How will this integrate with our existing operations?

Most people inherently resist change. One of the biggest challenges comes from the people inside a company, especially (and rightly so) those who are responsible for delivering a certain grade of service like IT staff. You have to be aware of this issue, and if adopting hybrid cloud means replacing familiar management consoles, retraining personnel and changing current workflows, employees will balk. Integration with existing operations is essential to successful deployments.

In addition, the hybrid project must scale. What works for a handful of technical people will not work when large scale production IT is involved and needs a very deliberate, orchestrated solution that is seamless with existing operations. Success of the project comes down to the ability to manage it. Integration with current tools and processes is key.

6. What skills will be needed to deploy, maintain and operate our hybrid environment?

IT staffers need to be able to analyze what they have today and what is needed tomorrow in terms of cost, performance, compliance and security, and then evaluate the choices. To do this, you need a strong working knowledge of both on- and off-premise management and integration. The hybrid cloud demands a shift in thinking. With on-premise infrastructure, IT teams had to do a lot of the physical underpinnings, such as hardware installation, wiring and networking, so those skill sets were heavily valued. The cloud takes away some of that and introduces a new application of those skill sets. Now, IT teams need to adapt their players and potentially hire new staffers with expertise in hybrid cloud functionalities, management, integration and administration.

7. How will we prevent vendor lock-in?

Before you ask this question, you should look around to see whether you're already locked in and don't realize it. Preventing lock-in requires vigilance against technical and financial constraints that could impede the very flexibility hybrid cloud is meant to create. Think about how lock-in occurs and make the hybrid choices that prevent it. For example, if you can seamlessly and easily move hybrid workloads between disparate platforms, that reduces lock-in. If you deploy a management solution that can span platforms, that also reduces lock-in. The other type of lock-in is long-term contracts. Vendors have endless incentives to contractually lock-in customers. With the speed of IT change and options, CIOs should be particularly wary of the multi-year enterprise license agreement (ELA).

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