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Hybrid Cloud Architecture

The term digital transformation has become inescapable in recent years. Every business has a transformation plan of some sort, and each will be different from all the others. Although the nuances may differ, the ubiquity of digital transformation reflects the inextricable link between an organisation and the technology that powers it. An organisation that isn’t equipped with the right technology will fall behind its competitors and eventually fail. 

Rarely considered in articles about digital transformation is where the intersection between business and technology lies. For nearly all organisations, digital transformation relates to the applications that drive their business. These apps are how organisations generate revenue, engage customers and expand into new markets.  

On one hand, applications are shaping the way an organisation operates and to what extent their industry is redefined. At the same time, thanks to the cloud, organisations have more options than ever when it comes to building, running and managing them. 

The ongoing evolution of the cloud delivers: 

  • new models for infrastructure and data centre operations  

  • diverse tools and frameworks to boost the productivity and efficiency of developers 

  • the continuous growth of intelligent automation.  

All these factors give IT unprecedented power to drive the business forward.   

At a very high level, organisations are increasingly turning to a hybrid cloud because it provides the best environment for an organisation’s applications.  

The hybrid cloud aims to deliver optimal performance, but it also provides access to external services, ensures flexibility from a support perspective and ensures the best price. Hybrid cloud enables organisations to continue building on the years of investment across systems, teams, tools and policies that are already proving valuable to their business. 

In short, it gives every organisation the power to drive their business forward, make digital transformation a reality and ensure there’s innovation on the horizon. 

In this e-book, we’ll look at why hybrid and multi-cloud strategies are essential for companies that want to address the challenges of digital transformation and put in place their strategies for the future. 

Application Needs Drive the IT Roadmap

Every business manages a complex set of existing and new applications; and supporting these effectively will always be a core priority for any IT team. These apps have a unique value to the business, whether they have been running a core function for decades or supporting a new idea that is still being developed. 

But each comes with specific performance, reliability, security and capability requirements. Every IT team is constantly evaluating the best way to deliver all of that while also enabling developers to deliver new and more powerful applications as quickly as possible. As a result, businesses are investing in a combination of initiatives to give each of these apps what they need to be a success, aligned to their business value. 

Data Centre Modernisation 

There are still big opportunities in the data centre to improve capacity, efficiency and operations. While most of the world is virtualised, organisations can extend proven concepts across storage and networking to create a complete software-defined data centre (SDDC). Evolving this core infrastructure unlocks significant gains in efficiency for the management and operation of on-prem systems. A modernised data centre supports an end-to-end cloud strategy more efficiently, enabling IT to operate a true hybrid model. 

Extend to Hybrid Cloud 

In the past, businesses that wanted to extend from the data centre to the cloud endured complex, time-consuming and costly efforts to refactor applications for the public cloud. Today’s hybrid offerings aim to reshape this model, delivering consistent infrastructure and management from the corporate data centre to the cloud to the edge. By standardising the environment in a way already proven by large enterprises, organisations can freely extend beyond the data centre, migrating applications easily and leveraging the Public Cloud for disaster recovery, scale-out requirements and geo expansion. Significant for organisations who are unable to rebuild or refactor a legacy app, this model invests further into the skills, tools, processes and teams already have in place, bringing new value to these resources without wasting time or budget. 

Increase Automation 

As the complexity of an application grows, so do the expectations of the organisation or end-users. This brings a greater dependency on automation and intelligent systems to maintain optimal performance. Despite significant gains in productivity due to IT automation, IT teams continue to struggle to dedicate resource for innovation. The need for intelligent automation grows alongside cloud expansion, for example, the introduction of cloud-native apps and the more complex services that come with them.  

Embed Security 

As applications scale between the data centre and cloud, the potential attack surface expands dramatically, and security becomes more complex. IT teams try to bolt-on tools to secure their applications, but surveys show that they are struggling to set consistent policies. The only solution is to embed security within the infrastructure so IT can apply policies around the applications and not the infrastructure. This allows security to scale more easily alongside the application. 

Deliver Modern Apps 

Organisations are dealing with a rapid proliferation of applications. Further complexity comes from frameworks like Kubernetes, which join virtual machines as mainstream application nodes, new capabilities, such as machine learning, and data requirements. All this makes innovation possible, but organisations must find ways to harness it without adding complexity or risk. 

Hybrid Cloud: The New Model for IT

The optimal model for meeting the above challenges is hybrid cloud. This combines data centre, cloud and edge environments with consistent infrastructure and operations. Increasingly, the best way to enable this is with a multi-cloud strategy – using several, separate cloud providers to handle distinct workloads. This builds a foundation on proven systems to support the most demanding applications and make available the most powerful technology. The result is that organisations can: 

  • Optimise infrastructure for all apps by matching the needs of each to the best environment and migrate apps seamlessly without the cost of refactoring for the new environment.  

  • Operate efficiently across data centre, cloud and edge with a single model for securing, governing and operating the entire hybrid cloud. 

  • Modernise existing infrastructure investments by eliminating the operational bottlenecks of legacy infrastructure and reducing dependence on storage and network specialists. 

  • Migrate seamlessly to the cloud by using hybrid and multi-cloud environments to remove the cost and complexity that typically hold back migration. 

  • Rapidly deliver modern apps thanks to the consistency of the hybrid cloud and common policies for deployment and migration. 

5 Tips for Best Practice

Start on the right path 

Evaluate your current infrastructure and understand your unique needs across your existing app portfolio. Outline your business goals and understand the key use cases for hybrid operations, multi-cloud deployment, cloud migration and disaster recovery. 

Streamline complexity 

Understand your current cloud resource commitments and relationships. Establish architectural guidelines for your hybrid environment and build relationships with cloud services that deliver consistent infrastructure and operations with your data centre. Evaluate your policies, tools and practices across the hybrid model and eliminate any that aren’t returning value. Configure your solutions for maximum impact. 

Secure the IT environment 

Ensure that you understand your application so you can secure its known good state. Build security into the infrastructure by micro-segmenting the network and encrypting data at rest. Ensure that patches are applied promptly, user access is controlled and multi-factor authentication is applied. 

Maximise your investment 

Take advantage of proven deployment methods and validated designs. Integrate people and process changes and align investment with business goals and targets. Deploy tools that facilitate efficient implementations and incorporate automated support technology where possible. 

Empower your teams 

Train your staff so their skills are up to date and able to support your goals. Deploy your teams on high-impact initiatives and set out a path for existing teams to increase value and impact. 

Find the right partner

Navigating this on your own can be daunting and complicated, which is why finding a knowledgeable partner is a good strategy. Taking advantage of a multi-cloud strategy, for example, is easiest when you can draw on an intimate knowledge of each platform, which can be difficult to find internally. Similarly, expert third parties can offer consistent management dashboards across clouds and act as a safe pair of hands. 

A company like Ekco has the deep experience to support your goals. We have a true hybrid SDDC environment, have delivered several VMware on AWS projects; as well as multiple application modernisation initiatives. We can call on a variety of experts to support your unique situation and roadmap. Just get in touch with us today to learn more. 

Hybrid and multi-cloud unlock massive opportunities for organisations. They put digital transformation within reach, unlock business value and support ongoing strategic plans. The model described in this e-book builds on a wealth of experience to create a path forward for all businesses, wherever they are in their cloud journey and no matter where they want to go. 

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