A hybrid cloud computing approach comes with a huge amount of benefits, but also a few challenges. If these are managed carefully, the benefits can far outweigh the risks. Best practice in managing hybrid risk comes down to security, good network design with a solid strategy and being backed by a qualified team of IT experts.
The strategic advantage of hybrid cloud
Hybrid Cloud is a strategic coordination between a mix of on-premises, private cloud and third-party, public cloud services. It has many benefits, among which are that a hybrid cloud environment offers enterprises cost effectiveness, flexibility and security.
Private cloud allows organisations to stay in control of their most critical data and the speeds which it can be accessed. It can also help organisations meet security, business governance or regulatory compliance issues.
Storing data off-premises in the public cloud offers cost saving measures on IT infrastructure. This is particularly in cases where the workload or data storage requirements vary, such as in project work, and gives the ability to scale up or down quickly. The popularity and consequent expenditure on public cloud services has increased, with the trend set to continue.
Depending on an organisation’s requirements for non-centralised data processing, edge computing is also often thrown in to the mix. Working alongside public and private cloud, edge computing places data processing and storage closer to where it is used at the edges of the network. It reduces latency, particularly important in organisations which centre on service-oriented models, such as those which employ Internet of Things (IoT) devices where huge amounts of data are generated and analysed quickly.
Hybrid offers the best of both worlds
So combining these approaches to create a hybrid cloud solution, offers the best of both worlds to organisations. The hybrid cloud environment acts as a management framework tool, with the percentage split between the different computing environments at the discretion of each enterprise. The split is often dynamic to accommodate an organisation’s changing data requirements.
It’s clear why the majority of companies have, or are in the process of adopting this approach. On one survey, Gartner noted this massive shift towards hybrid infrastructure and estimated that within a few years, 90 percent of global companies will embrace this approach. So it’s safe to say that hybrid cloud is pretty much the gold standard of the IT architecture world.
But in an organisation’s rush to adopt a hybrid environment and avoid the possibility of being left behind by their more tech-savvy competitors, it’s tempting to overlook, or minimise some of the risks which accompany this approach.
Top 6 tips to manage hybrid risk
There’s no mistaking that any sort of IT architecture, even a hybrid variety, brings risk with it. In minimising these risks, the following points should be considered within an organisation’s risk management strategies:
Never to be attempted in a haphazard way, any approach to IT should be undertaken carefully and systematically, preferably before implementation is realised. Planning what data will need to be accessed and stored in what areas ensures the risk minimisation of inefficiencies in data handling and security holes.
- Ensuring visibility across all endpoints
Visibility across all endpoints is critical to network security. Particularly in a Bring-Your-Own-Device environment (BYOD) where corporate networks can be accessed by mobile devices and laptops, any security issues, such as unauthorised access or malware can be identified quickly, and patches or fixes issued.
- Finding a team with the right skillset
The management of a hybrid cloud environment needs to be carried out by a highly qualified set of IT cloud-computing specialists, who understand the integration of public and private clouds, along with any edge processing requirements.
- A focus on network design
A long-term view is required when considering the best network design for an organisation Bandwidth, cloud integration, application use and data transfer are all factors which should be taken into consideration when implementing a hybrid environment.
Arguably the biggest risk when it comes to adopting hybrid cloud infrastructure, problem-solving these security risks comes down to planning and restructuring access. Knowing how to manage the transfer of data between the clouds, and specifically what sensitive information should not be stored in the public cloud, as well as which select staff have access to the information stored within the private cloud, all become critical issues which can determine the success of a hybrid IT system.
- Disaster recovery
Using more than one provider for services can mean more scope for things to go wrong, making a solid, up-to-date and thoroughly tested disaster recovery plan essential.
Areas to consider are how easy or difficult it would be to switch vendors; or the liability for a cloud vendor’s downtime which may affect your business, or a security breach within a vendor’s operations.
Within the context of developing and implementing a hybrid cloud environment, part of forming a good disaster plan is to thoroughly understand your cloud vendor’s SLA’s (Service Level Agreement). These should detail their own disaster recovery time and be written into your agreement.