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4 Principles for Hybrid Cloud Success

(t) Trend Micro logoOriginally posted on the Trend Micro blog.

The future is cloud. At this point in it’s evolution it’s undeniable.

The questions facing organizations now are “how much?” and “how fast?” How do you map out a reasonable path to a cloud deployment? Few organizations will be 100 percent cloud and most will take years to migrate existing assets from their on-premises environments.

This is the reality of the hybrid cloud.

Organizations are taking a pragmatic approach to cloud adoption. They are looking to maximize their existing investments while at the same time taking advantage of the new technologies offered in the cloud. Striking the right balance is difficult because of two major challenges:

  1. The tendency to split processes. One traditional. One for cloud
  2. The complexity of tooling to handle multiple environments

If these two areas aren’t properly addressed, organizations quickly find themselves drowning under the weight of multiple environments.

Split Processes

No one wants to do twice the work but that’s often what happens when organizations start to adopt the cloud. Teams built out a new process for the cloud because their existing processes for traditional, on-premises environments don’t work or simply don’t make sense.

While this can be a quick solution to keep a cloud project moving along, it’s not a sustainable solution.

Teams should work together to map out what the desired process would be in the target environment and then map that ideal process to the existing constraints.

Exceptions will need to be made in order accommodate some on-premises systems and existing processes. Once these exceptions are made, you’ve got an easy list of “to do” actions. Eliminate these exceptions in order to streamline the processes across all environments.

Tooling

Most of your IT processes are going to be tied to the tool sets available in each environment. Here’s where the real clash happens.

Cloud environments are highly automated. After all they have the advantage of being API driven and constructed with a clean slate over the last decade. Your on-premises environment has grown over time and is a combination of vendors, technologies, and concepts.

There are a few goals to keep in mind when it comes to your tool set:

  1. You want to reduce the number of tools in use
  2. Alignment of the tools methodology with how the team approaches each problem
  3. Training overhead for the team on each tool

Some on-premises tools are capable of managing the transition to cloud.

Some cloud-native tools are capable of managing on-premises assets. Every organizations situation is a little bit different.

In general you’re looking for tools that:

  • Scale automatically
  • Are programmatically accessible (easy data in & out, has an API, etc.)
  • Make smart decisions on your behalf

Imagine you’re looking for a disaster recovery tool. You’re going to need the ability to scale that tool up to handle more applications and data as your deployment grows.

You need to be able to automate the recovery process when one environment fails. You also need the tool to be smart enough to update images and configurations in all locations when you change them in one environment.

If you’re missing any one of these aspects, the tool is going to require a lot more work than necessary. Tools should make it easier for your team to do more with less. A good tool offers more value than the effort it takes to run and maintain it.

An Example

With VMWorld happening this week, let’s take a look at the VMWare Cloud on AWS + Trend Micro’s Deep Security as a use case. If you haven’t heard about it already, VMWare Cloud on AWS , is a unique offering where you can extend your existing VMWare deployment into AWS using the same toolset.

The VMWare infrastructure in AWS is run as a managed service so you can focus purely on your applications and data as your VMWare infrastructure scales seamlessly.

This solution removes the logistics and cost of scaling supporting hardware from the equation. Combined with Deep Security, your cloud security configurations also scale seamless across this hybrid environment. Looking back at our key principles:

  • Processes only change slightly…and for the better. Your teams no longer worry about procurement and assignment of hardware as a capacity planning exercise.
  • You haven’t added any tools to the chain
  • Scaling is now part of the service
  • The VMWare environment and Deep Security are programmable
  • The overall tool set does a lot of the heavy lifting for you

This solution stack meets our requirements. It’s an environment that your teams are already familiar with deployed in a manner where some of the key pain points are removed. This is a strong move to start taking advantage of the strengths of the cloud while minimizing disruptions in service and to our team.

Four Core Principles

Success in the hybrid cloud starts with these four principles;

  1. One process regardless of environment. Make small exceptions when absolutely necessary
  2. Tools must scale automatically
  3. Tools must be programmable and make it easy to get data in and out
  4. Tools must make smart decisions on your behalf

For any hybrid cloud deployment, you can save yourself a lot of headaches if you make sure that your solution meets these key principles before moving forward. Once you’ve tackled these key principles, it’s full speed ahead.

How are you tackling hybrid environments? Are you having trouble unifying processes? What about tool sets? Let me know on Twitter where I’m @marknca .