Cloud is now an essential business enabler, and the question has become not whether to use it, but by how much. So, IT leaders are faced with a conundrum: how can they maximise value from cloud computing, whilst maintaining data security? Virtualised machines and cloud-enabled business-critical applications allow data to be streamed in from millions of new internet-enabled devices escalating data growth in terms of both volume and complexity.
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Despite the cloud’s presence, organisations are only recently starting to understand the level of cloud adoption that is appropriate for their business needs. The cloud has developed to a significant extent, with hybrid models becoming the favoured approach in terms of agility, while maintaining control of sensitive data on-premise.
A Hybrid Approach to Cloud
For all organisations moving to the cloud, whether private, public or a combination can be daunting. Greater business agility and low upfront investment are promised: however, if not handled systematically and driven by insights gleaned from data, cost and complexity can be increased dramatically. A number of organisations are experiencing issues ranging from egress costs to wasteful utilisations, to complex and siloed managements. Beginning with data-driven insights provides businesses with a better understanding of which workloads and applications are most appropriate for a public or private cloud, or on-premise hosting: in turn a successful hybrid model can be deployed.
Having direct access to an on-premise, private infrastructure means a decrease in the use of public Internet
Having direct access to an on-premise, private infrastructure means a decrease in the use of public Internet, which effectively cuts down latency compared to public cloud services. With the hybrid cloud model, organisations are offered on-premise computational and storage infrastructure for processing data which requires extra speed or higher availability. Combine this with the benefits of the public cloud, where a workload may exceed the computational power of the private cloud component, and you have a compelling argument for hybrid cloud.
Expanding the private component of a hybrid cloud also allows for flexibility in virtual server design: organisations can automate the entire virtual machine lifecycle to archiving older VMs to the cloud.
Another benefit of the hybrid model is the increased connectivity and collaboration offered to employees – which can often be a challenge in today’s digital world. The ability for teams to easily and securely share files should be coupled with the integration of remote workers into core business processes, such as internal messaging, scheduling, edge protection (laptops, tablets, etc.), business intelligence and analytics.
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Although the benefits are clear for adopting a hybrid approach, it can still be difficult to know where to start. CIOs need to explore ways in which they can introduce a hybrid model that delivers deeply integrated cloud automation and orchestration tools, ensuring compatibility across cloud solutions and on-premise infrastructure.
The hybrid environment is fast emerging as the norm for many CIOs. However, the key to a successful hybrid cloud deployment is to firstly understand which workloads and applications are most appropriate for a particular hosting. Secondly, it is important to leverage a single integrated console with an enterprise-wide view of data across these infrastructures. This will mean that IT leaders can control where to process data and maximise cost savings by identifying reasonable spend in relation to the value that data offers to the business.
The Spending Shift – from Capex to Opex
Cloud computing offered promises of cost savings yet increasingly we are seeing headlines such as The Hidden Waste and Expense of Cloud Computing  or Cloud Computing’s Wasteland. So what is actually happening?
Due to a lack of controls to help track and manage utilisation, businesses are being faced with unexpected costs; typically from an unusually large bill from their cloud provider after cloud instances are left running. In the traditional CapEx model, we invest heavily upfront in hardware and software. However, with the cloud subscription model, we can build a data centre with a credit card in a predictable Operational Expense (OpEx) model – which is wonderful in theory, but largely expensive. As organisations mainstream public cloud, holes are exposed within the maturity of their management processes and controls. As a result, developers have been deploying VMs at will and failing to take down workloads once they are completed.
In order to tackle this growing concern, it is necessary that IT leaders ensure they have a data and information management strategy. This would enable them to capture a workload at the point of creation and attach data management services simultaneously. To support hybrid models, we need to be able to remain with the workload as it moves between on-premise to hosted private cloud, to hybrid and public clouds.
Data is only useful when value can be gained from it
Data is only useful when value can be gained from it, whether it is in the cloud or on-premise. Starting with backup and recovery, organisations are able to fast track into more advanced use cases such as DEV/test solutions and more. Here emerges the hybrid data analytics strategy: ‘analytics with purpose’ will be a guiding principle for progressing businesses. Regardless of whether it’s to introduce a Business Intelligence project, or move an advanced analytics strategy to the next level, organisations leveraging a hybrid cloud model will have opportunity: the chance to construct increasingly intelligent choices regarding structured and unstructured data in their environment. In addition to this, they will be able to rapidly mitigate the risk of compliance-related issues, regain valuable storage space and free up budgets in order to pursue vital opportunities in terms of business growth.