Challenges and Opportunities in Implementing Hybrid Cloud

By Sajith Kumar, CIO, Happiest Minds Technologies

Sajith has over 23 years of experience in diverse technology and management roles. Sajith has varied experience in the IT field, he has handled multiple roles from supporting IT to developing applications to building large teams to deliver IT initiatives for large enterprise accounts. Prior to joining Happiest Minds, Sajith has worked with MindTree, Microsoft, and Wipro.

Cloud computing has become one of the most disruptive forces transforming the way business is done. Industry experts highlight various benefits of transitioning to the Cloud, including improved business efficiency and cost savings. But, one of Gartner’s recent Emerging Risks Report and Monitor surveys highlights that a majority of risk executives are most concerned about the probability and impact of potential data risks associated with public cloud.

Well, there is a boom in cloud migration like never before, and while some organizations that are still skeptical hold on to the traditional way of operations, many have adopted the cloud way (public, private, hybrid or community cloud).

Hybrid cloud adoption and implementation is on the fast track in many enterprises. However, this adoption too comes with its own challenges and some of them are described below.

" As cloud-hosted solutions start evolving at a fast pace and old solutions get replaced more frequently, organizations should get accustomed to managing IT resources that are hosted across internal and public cloud, and with experts in multiple technology areas " 

Infrastructure security and compliance:

Sensitive data such as personally identifiable information (PII), personal health information (PHI), bank-countrelated  information and other confidential information are increasingly being stored on public cloud infrastructure as well as cloud-based file sharing apps such as Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive. Does IT have sufficient measures in place to ensure only encrypted files are stored on the cloud infrastructure or in the file sharing apps? Does the data loss prevention (DLP) policy cover all file sharing providers as well as other forms of cloud storage? Are all cloud service providers (CSPs) responsible enough to safeguard this data and ensure compliance? Organizations are increasingly becoming concerned about data security, backup data security, data loss, data leakage and data privacy. Complex cloud infrastructure (private, hybrid, public, community)- which is the case in many organizations - and spanning multiple vendors and locations, makes this all the more complex. Partnering with mainstream cloud providers that meet regulatory compliance and have strict access controls may help overcome some of these psychological barriers, but may not be cost-effective. Today, there are hardware vendors too who offer private cloud options that are as cost-effective as mainstream cloud providers.

Cloud cost management:

Hardware vendors currently offer in-house or private cloud solutions that are cost effective. Calculating the true cost of services before transitioning to a public cloud or a cloud outside the enterprise, and tracking costs regularly post implementation, ensures there are no sudden surprises. Enterprises should follow cost-saving measures such as adding new server capacity only when needed rather than upfront provisioning, eliminating unused instances, monitoring storage and network consumption, and shutting down instances when not in use. Serverless computing or utility computing is another trend that is quickly catching up for saving costs. In this model, computing resources and network or storage infrastructure is made available only when needed, and the customer is charged for usage by the application rather than a flat rate for the server instance.

Connecting legacy systems with cloud applications:

Today, most enterprises have their data residing in multiple systems, across multiple locations within and outside the organization. The challenge of integrating this data, applications and APIs from multiple systems, locations and cloud providers is causing significant rework on some processes and also slowing down many of the integration projects.

Every cloud integration project faces a unique set of circumstances that affects the complexity of implementation. It can vary from the number of applications to be integrated, to how the cloud/legacy applications need to communicate (synchronous, asynchronous, offline), to the volume of data required by the applications, and these challenges impact the cost, time and availability of technical expertise.

Latency in data exchange is another big threat in hybrid cloud integration where slow data transfer impedes or even paralyzes application performance.

Lack of standardization too can make cloud integration between two clouds or from cloud to local (on, premise)

environments challenging. Developing and maintaining connectors that are required to communicate with various elements of the cloud and local environments becomes tough when different communications schemes are utilized by applications, resources and services. The choice of the right integration platform could be a potential life saver.

Managing multi-cloud environments and vendors:

The multi-cloud option allows enterprises to enjoy them benefits of a mix of public cloud, private cloud and internal data center. Data governance and compliance tops the list of challenges that organizations may encounter, yet benefits such as lower costs, freedom from vendor lock-in and power of choice attract them toward multi cloud (public, private or hybrid). Working with multiple vendors offers flexibility, but managing multiple skill sets and vendors can be cumbersome due to compatibility and integration issues. Striving for commonality across diverse and distributed environments can help IT leaders address the challenge.

Vendor lock-in and switching cloud providers:

Switching CSPs is not an easy task, with vendor lock-in, incompatibility and downtime coming in the way. CSPs are generally not ready to let go of the effort invested in setting up and configurating a custom cloud for a specific business. Varying network bandwidth from one provider to another, different versions of OS, and database supported by the provider, could result in compatibility issues during migration.

As cloud-hosted solutions start evolving at a fast pace  and old solutions get replaced more frequently, organizations  should get accustomed to managing IT resources that are hosted across internal and public cloud, and with experts in multiple technology areas. Hybrid cloud integration, though large and complex, can be handled very well with proper planning.

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