Hybrid IT service delivery models that combine public-cloud architectures with private-cloud architectures are on the rise within companies across industries. Such environments require a holistic management approach that ensures effective governance, regulatory compliance and security, as well as high IT performance and reduced costs.
While public clouds often are used to set up new projects in a short time and conduct agile and cost-effective testing, companies prefer private clouds when data privacy and security are an issue. With hybrid cloud models, however, companies can reap the benefits of both cloud types.
Hybrid cloud models, for example, allow companies to address competing requirements, such as cost versus data protection and security. With a hybrid cloud model, companies can host public websites in the public area of a hybrid cloud, while managing data-sensitive applications in the private area. Further, big data or Internet of Things applications often are implemented in a hybrid cloud environment.
While a hybrid cloud model is suitable for companies in all sectors, data protection may play a greater role in one country compared to other countries. Varying legal and data residency requirements may require companies in some countries to be cautious and stick with private clouds.
Greater complexity with a hybrid cloud
Despite its advantages, a hybrid cloud model increases IT complexity. Integrating, securing, controlling and monitoring hybrid landscapes while also providing users with self-service functionalities, for example, by offering Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, is a very demanding task. Managing procurement from various cloud service providers also is difficult. Increased expenditure in the service integration and management (SIAM) field must be taken into account. Further, the IT department has to acquire expertise with various cloud solutions.
The first task before tailoring a hybrid cloud management solution is to perform an inventory of the application and data portfolios that the company intends to migrate to a hybrid cloud. This is closely tied with the second task of analyzing, evaluating and documenting requirements in the areas of performance, agility, reliability, availability, data protection, cybersecurity and architecture.
Completion of these two tasks provides the foundation for developing an overall hybrid cloud strategy and roadmap—including one or more proofs of concept. Only then should a company start looking around for suitable service providers and solutions, including one or more cloud providers with public, virtual private and dedicated private cloud solutions, as well as an integration and management provider with tools to ensure seamless management of the hybrid ecosystem. It also is important to find a strategic partner that can support the company through its digital transformation with analysis, planning and process management, as well as the right personnel skills and technology.
Hybrid cloud management is part of hybrid IT management
Cloud applications, particularly those in hybrid clouds, are not isolated solutions, but should be integral components of a company’s overall and ever-changing flexible IT infrastructure. Thus, implementation of a hybrid cloud management solution is always associated with a detailed analysis of existing systems that, for example, documents their current status and cloud readiness, discovers and exposes shadow IT vulnerabilities, and applies the results to the new hybrid IT governance processes. A hybrid cloud management solution therefore should have APIs that enable it to work smoothly and seamlessly with existing management tools while also interacting with public cloud platforms. A welcome side effect of this may be that it reveals which applications require an IT update.
One of the central tasks of an integrated hybrid management solution such as CGI’s Unify360 is to grant users access only to those cloud applications, functions and resources for which they are authorized. With such a solution, a company also gains control over utilization, invoicing, data protection, and security, as well as the performance of components for both cloud and existing systems. In addition to dedicated and multi-tenant virtual private clouds built on the leading cloud operating systems such as VMware, Windows Azure Pack ( and soon Stack) and OpenStack, a hybrid cloud management solution also should support the major public clouds, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Further, implementation of hybrid cloud services is a good opportunity to make the transformation to agile DevOps models and processes for development and operations.
The advantages and value of a hybrid IT service delivery model are proven, so it’s important for companies to understand the implications and requirements for moving to such a model. For questions or further discussion, feel free to reach out directly to me or contact CGI at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About this author
As a member of CGI’s Global Emerging Technology team, Ralf coordinates CGI strategy, messaging and capabilities for key areas such as intelligent automation, robotic process automation, advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, high-performance computing, and hybrid cloud. With CGI for 20 years and based ...