The Case for Hybrid Cloud

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Wendy HolmquistJo PetersonBy Wendy Holmquist and Jo Peterson

The cloud truly has been a game changer and an equalizer. It has allowed companies to avoid the capital costs associated with hardware — servers, firewalls and load balancers — and pay a monthly operating cost for these solutions. It has allowed small and medium businesses (SMBs) and startups that couldn’t otherwise afford large capital outlays to have access to the same suite of products and services only previously available to larger firms with larger capital reserves.

That said, the cloud isn’t a fit for all environments. Client-driven requirements, regulatory constraints, corporate/IT preferences, costs (especially for scale) and good old-fashioned growth may cause company decision makers to stop and think about their cloud strategy. What may have worked a year or two ago may not be working today. The needs of the business may change and so might its needs around cloud services.

Take the case of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider. The company’s developers first create a test environment in a public cloud that later turns into a production environment. Fast forward a few years and the test-turned-production environment consists of more than 25 virtual machines with various workloads at a budget-busting hundreds of thousands of dollars monthly (yes, monthly.)

The ad hoc growth of the SaaS business causes internal friction between departments within the organization for a variety of reasons. Besides being very costly, the environment is no longer delivering some of the requirements necessary for running the growing business, such as standardized procurement processes, change management control, regulation and compliance oversight, and billing and contract reconciliation. Because cloud usage has grown out of control, executives decide to bring many of the services in house.

But what is the most efficient mix of in-house IT versus cloud-based IT from a cost, control and business innovation perspective? There is no magic answer, but basic methodology can help you determine the right blend of internal and external resources for your customer’s specific industry, culture and budget.

When consulting with a client on their strategy for cloud solutions, it is important to note that on-premises environments, colocation and cloud services can (and should) coexist. The right mix of each is driven by examining each workload in the environment and helping clients make sound choices about the optimal solution based on requirements and cost. 

A “hybrid IT" delivery model also can facilitate a phased — and less risky — approach to cloud adoption. Starting with one business application in the cloud can be a natural first step. At the same time, determining which business applications are not good candidates for cloud — now or in the near future — can help arrive at the right blend of resources in a hybrid model. 

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