If you’re looking to modernise your old virtual infrastructure to a new all-singing hybrid cloud, you need to know how to avoid the common challenges that many digital transformations encounter.
Cloud computing has been central to modern business strategy for a number of years. Organisations expect flexible, agile solutions that enable business continuity and transformation for now and for the future.
While firms aspire to have robust cloud strategies in place, recent studies* confirm that current cloud environments are convoluted and struggle to achieve the business or technical benefit they expected.
So for those who are looking to modernise their creaking data centre, support strategic business objectives, tidy up the long tail of technical debt and historic spaghetti of organic hardware and software purchases, the deployment of a new shiny hybrid cloud promises many great things.
The reality is that the ability to realise the long-term benefits of modernisation is less about the chosen technology and more about the approach and what happens after deployment, so let’s focus on how to avoid pain and achieve more.
In its most simple form, hybrid cloud offers the ability to manage business applications from both private cloud (dedicated cloud infrastructure, hosted or managed either internally or by a third party) or public cloud (SaaS applications and hyperscaler services including AWS, Azure and Google). These may operate independently or be integrated together in some way.
A common path to hybrid cloud for many larger organisations has been the ongoing evolution of data centre virtualisation. As technologies have advanced, the modernisation of the private cloud as a key foundation for both new capabilities and extensions to public cloud services has been one of the driving factors for change.
These benefits can include aspects such as improved management, security, compliance, automation, scalability and application development. We’re going to focus on this data centre modernisation path, as it remains one of the most prevalent routes to current day hybrid cloud.
Setting high expectations by selling the dream to the business then underdelivering, or even worse delivering a poorer experience than before inevitably leads to people losing their jobs, business frustration, or the technology being abandoned. Some of the most common outcomes of doing it badly are:
The strategies follow similar patterns to many common digital transformation scenarios. Here is a list of the most common ways to increase the chances of hybrid cloud success for both implementation and the longer term:
Challenge yourself with some simple questions: Do we have the skills and experience to design it? Do I need to operate it all short term or long term? Are those skills available? How often will I need them? How much do they cost to keep and maintain? High performance cars may be fast but require specialists to keep them on the road – undertaking an internal skills review at the start and defining an appropriate target operating model is an invaluable reality check exercise.
Built-in futureproofing: Ensuring any cloud investment is able to extend to and integrate with public clouds and SaaS services in the way the business expects, or may require in the future is important. Consider proving key scenarios and trialling cloud services across providers ensuring there are exit paths – this will reduce the risk of unexpected surprises later.
Plan to deal with the old stuff and act on it fast: Modernising could mean refreshing hardware and software versions or full-scale adoption of new technology. The transition period of trying to maintain both old and new worlds at the same time can easily cause IT meltdown. Organisations can risk ending up somewhere between old infrastructure being neglected or new not being adopted, with both outcomes generating significant and avoidable risk and cost. The most successful transformations plan to address the transition in their budgets and timeframes, and how to burst resourcing to run both in parallel.
The sooner you can lock in an approach which proactively works to catch future potential diversions and pitfalls, the sooner you can move forward with greater confidence and business support.
This starts at the very beginning of the process with assessing the needs, forecasting now and potential future scenarios, getting everyone on the same page with regard to approach, identifying the target state, and recognising operational impacts. These key strategies will allow the business to focus more on the future gains and less on future firefighting.