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Hybrid Cloud: What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You

By Michael Segal May 03, 2017

The global business environment has changed dramatically across all industries in recent years, and established organizations have to react quickly to new challenges and increasingly agile competition. This evolution of the business environment has heaped renewed pressure on IT to reap the benefits of external cloud services. The move to cloud services is a key part of the digital transformation (DX) journey that all companies need to embark on and, if the transition is managed properly, the benefits of the move to the cloud are clear.

Enterprises can potentially gain the agility to increase infrastructure capacity with no additional capital expenditure and quickly deploy new services as mandated by the business needs. However, it is important to consider that, in the process, enterprises risk losing visibility and control over the data and the quality of service delivery.

A major issue faced by enterprises under pressure to migrate to external cloud services, is the complex ‘hybrid’ environment that is created within their IT operations. Every additional system, service and functionality a company adds to its offering will add complexity to the environment, particularly when deploying virtualized technology to supplement the existing legacy infrastructure and migrating workloads to public cloud.

This additional complexity is a necessity to ensure a successful DX process. But without a window into this entire hybrid environment enterprises lose sight of service performance and vulnerabilities, which is a major risk. It is crucial that this risk is mitigated effectively as this will allow organizations the confidence to migrate services to the cloud make hybrid cloud a key part of their ongoing infrastructure.

Visibility of the hybrid environment

As the pressure builds within enterprises to realize the benefits of cloud services, one key element can be overlooked – namely that there is rarely a plan to assure the performance and security of the applications and services migrated to the cloud, beyond relying on the cloud providers. While cloud providers advertise they have integrated control, management, and security of respective cloud offerings, a better approach would be trust but verify. This is an important consideration for line of business heads, CIOs and IT ops personnel, who plan, execute, manage, and champion hybrid cloud initiatives.

While external cloud providers may provide detailed insight and monitoring tools for their own environment, it’s important to remember that they are only able to monitor operational and performance metrics of cloud resources and to some extend applications. Cloud management does not analyze the interdependencies across service chain components such as network, compute, storage, databases, service enablers and applications. Last but not least, cloud management does not monitor holistically hybrid cloud and multi-vendor cloud environments. The important consideration is that if an enterprise becomes dependent on the cloud to support key business services and processes, it will not automatically gain complete visibility across the entire hybrid IT environment.

Therefore if an organization becomes dependent on the cloud to support key aspects of the business then the CIO needs an alternative approach to achieve complete visibility across all hybrid cloud based systems. Visibility is crucial to assure the entire service delivery structure, to enable business agility and swift and proactive response to service degradations and outages. In addition, without this view of the hybrid environment, criminal activities, such as hacking and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and advanced persistent threats (APT), can go unnoticed. With so much of modern business activity reliant on the effective operation of the network, this state of affairs is unacceptable.

Assuring the benefits of hybrid cloud

With these challenges front of mind, the cloud transition, and DX as a whole, needs to be managed carefully to ensure continuation of service and the best outcomes for the business. Organizations must gain insight into existing service performance baselines and migrate applications, compute, network, and storage workloads to the cloud with confidence by and quickly detecting and resolving service issues without modifying their existing workflows in hybrid cloud environments.

This is achieved by continuous end-to-end monitoring and real-time analysis of the traffic flows collected from hybrid cloud physical and virtual networks and applications. The analysis of the monitored data provides end-to-end service-level visibility in hybrid cloud environments that simplify the complexity, mitigate risks, accelerate business agility and promote operational excellence. By using pervasive software based instrumentation technology in the cloud, enterprises can retain the control over application and service assurance in hybrid cloud environments.

Retaining the control is especially critical during cloud migration since successful cloud-based disruption is not only about delivering transformational customer and business services. It is about delivering them well. By translating real-time smart data into actionable insights enterprises will be able to migrate to the cloud with confidence, while maintaining business agility and service quality across a complex hybrid environment.

For more from Michael Segal,check out Part 1 and Part 2 of his NFVZone series.

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