Hybrid is now: How to manage on-premises and cloud applications

Modern businesses are well on the way when it comes to cloud adoption. Whether they hope to take advantage of the cost savings or simply increase their overall agility, this ‘cloud first’ mentality often leaves IT professionals tasked with managing applications in a challenging new environment: the hybrid data centre.

[easy-tweet tweet=”A #cloud first’ mentality can leave IT professionals managing applications in a challenging #hybrid environment”]

Despite the rapid rate of cloud adoption, it’s expected that many businesses will continue to have a significant part of their daily operations tied to physical infrastructure for the foreseeable future, due to cloud economics, as well as security fears and regulations – the cloud is for everyone, but not necessarily for everything. Rather than re-architect applications for cloud, IT teams are mostly likely to ‘lift and shift’ applications from traditional infrastructure to the cloud, which in turn can cause a whole set of challenges when it comes to management.

At the end of the day, unless it’s a brand new application architected from the start to be cloud-aware, IT pros face the challenge of running an app in the cloud which was designed for the ground, and so has many of the same properties as one built for on-premises – and the same challenges: uptime, performance management, patches, issue resolution, capacity planning, etc.

The ultimate objective of the IT pro when it comes to applications is to give the end user the best application performance possible, therefore silos within teams often do not work

With this reality in mind, SolarWinds offers several best practices to help IT pros align the management of on-premises and cloud-based applications in this new reality of Hybrid IT:

End user and application focus

In a hybrid environment, there is less of a focus on infrastructure components and department silos defined by technology layers, and more focus on end user experience and overall application uptime. Traditional infrastructure serves only to make the application work, whereas cloud infrastructure is ephemeral and dynamic.

In order to achieve resilience and flexibility, IT professionals should note that in the cloud servers are disposable and so if they begin to fail or problems arise, it is time to kill and replace them. They should also consider ways to implement a more iterative process in order to allow teams to move faster and serve the business more effectively. It’s also important to remember automation, deployments, tests, monitoring and alerts when it comes to faster end-user servicing.

One unit with one goal

The ultimate objective of the IT pro when it comes to applications is to give the end user the best application performance possible, therefore silos within teams often do not work. There should be one unanimous IT team rather than separate database, virtualisation and storage teams. The team as a whole should be responsible for the performance of applications, so when an application is down, it’s everyone’s role to help rectify the issue. This level of teamwork requires a shared set of goals, transparency, and a consistent set of tools that provides everyone with a consistent set of metrics and visibility across the stack.

The IT team needs to have the same common goal: maintaining the application uptime and improving the end user experience.

Research cloud providers

When evaluating a cloud provider, IT professionals should be careful to do their research based on the individual requirements of each workload. Administrators should pay close attention to a cloud provider’s upgrade and patch processes and service interruptions, SLAs, recommended architectures and available services and capabilities. The right questions need to be asked when making the move to a hybrid data centre: What is the security model? How resilient is the environment and what are the architectural implications? What are their response times? What will they take responsibility for? How will they help me enforce governance rules? How do they support meeting compliance requirements?

Full stack monitoring

Transitioning workloads to the cloud – even if just a few – can be a mammoth task. A successful transition requires a reliable, full-stack monitoring system. The cloud allows more flexibility, more control and instant changes, which is great but will also be reflected in your monthly bill. This creates a responsibility and an opportunity to optimise everything – all elements should be tried and tested, and the impact of every change known. When managing a hybrid environment, combined visibility is key, and so is adopting a monitoring model which allows you to review the health of both physical and cloud infrastructure in one dashboard, and helps compare performance and resource utilisation on premises and in the cloud. The end goal is performance certainty, both in terms of end-user experience and resource utilisation (and cost).

[easy-tweet tweet=”Due to economics, as well as security fears – the #cloud is for everyone, but not necessarily for everything”]

These best practices can be useful when applied to both traditional on-premises IT and cloud. The goal of moving certain workloads to the cloud is that the IT department can begin leveraging cloud-based principles and some of the new services more efficiently, providing them with the benefits cloud natives enjoy. Through a holistic approach of adopting these best practices, IT pros can manage both on-premises and cloud-based applications, allowing for a faster and more agile business.

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