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How to Orchestrate a Hybrid Cloud Platform

Many Australian companies are favouring hybrid cloud over public and private cloud solutions. According to a Microsoft study in 2016; 40% of Australian organisations are already using hybrid deployments, and this is expected to increase to 49% by the end of the year. It’s easy to see why this shift is happening. Hybrid models provide businesses the cost-effective, third-party support of public clouds as well as the security and performance guarantees of private clouds. In short, you get the best of both worlds.

But with a huge mix of public, private, and sometimes legacy IT systems; managing the interconnections and interactions between each platform is crucial. In many ways, a hybrid model can be likened to an orchestra in which; all instruments play their own role but require a conductor to maintain harmony. In an IT context, you (the conductor) must guide the processes, technology, and services to; deliver a seamless user experience across all channels to all users. With this in mind; here are some things you need to consider to perfectly orchestrate your IT infrastructure to the cloud environment.

Orchestration software

In a hybrid environment, businesses are in contact with more suppliers than ever before. Today, organisations that have opted for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS); are working with at least 15 or more vendors. With such diversity in applications and platforms; maintaining control is a constant challenge. You can, however, manage this complexity by using orchestrator software.

This software aggregates the status of every application (cloud or otherwise) in a single user-interface. This gives you a centralised platform for managing bandwidth, access permissions as well as workloads.

Service integrations

The most important thing to remember with the hybrid cloud orchestration is that; it has multiple services and technologies working as one cohesive unit. At the basic level of orchestration; you need to make sure that the public and private cloud services you are using can integrate seamlessly. You can achieve this by considering providers and platforms that have been proven to work well together. So, instead of pairing your Azure public cloud service with a VMware on-premises infrastructure; go for something that makes sense like Microsoft Azure and on-premises Windows servers. This way, you have a more unified hybrid structure that will make workload management a lot easier.

Data classification

When implementing a hybrid cloud; evaluate whether certain data should be stored in either public or private clouds. Remember to consider your data compliance and residency obligations. For instance, The Privacy Act 1988 requires companies to secure customer information; therefore, while you could store non-sensitive files in public clouds, you should store critical files in more secure private cloud data centres.

Security

Utilising a multi-cloud environment presents plenty of business opportunities; but it also creates security holes and vulnerabilities. Because public and private clouds are hosted in separate environments; you’ll have to monitor and secure each platform’s storage, virtual servers, and applications. Fortunately, good security orchestration and integrated cybersecurity tools can help you overcome this problem.

As data is held in multiple physical and virtual locations; you’ll need rigorous identity and access management systems to control who has access to what within public and private platforms. For example, you can (and should) grant front-of-house staff access to public cloud services like Office 365 and limit access to classified information stored in private servers.

You’ll also want unified security management systems; like encryption, security monitoring, and intrusion prevention tools; so you can manage the cybersecurity of all systems in one window. This will help simplify many security processes such as installing the latest security updates on time. More importantly, it will allow your organisation to discover and react to security issues quickly.

Workload management

Another area to consider is workload management as some workloads require certain type of environment. High-performance, low-latency applications that require a lot of processing power are perfect for private configurations that guarantee certain performance characteristics; while software that needs to run in the background or overnight are better off in a public cloud.

Once you’ve figured out what kind of workload you have; talk to your provider about automated workload provisioning services to ensure every workload, application and/or project is running on the right environment based on security, speed, and computing demands.

Proper workload orchestration isn’t just a way to make sure your applications are running; it also helps with managing dynamic or unpredictable workloads. For instance, you can set your workload management so that critical applications like online order entry systems could run in a private cloud and automatically “burst” into a public cloud when computing demand spikes during the holidays. All in all, this gives your business increased flexibility and agility.

Update coordination

The major distinguishing factor between on-premises private data centres and remote public clouds; depends on how applications are updated. SaaS vendors automatically roll out updates as soon as they’re available; which means that if you’re managing on-premises data centres, you need to keep up with cloud versions. This is important because many apps discontinue features over time, and if you fall behind on updates; certain private and public cloud integrations might stop working.

Those with Infrastructure-as-a-Service setups have an easier time since you’ll generally be responsible for updating both your on-premises and cloud frameworks. All you need to stay up-to-date is a reliable patch management software; that will distribute the updates company-wide.

Transitioning to hybrid

In order to have the elasticity, scalability, and agility that many hybrid cloud adopters claim to experience; cloud orchestration is necessary. Without finding the right balance in workloads, security, updates, and services, you risk creating a clunky, disjointed IT infrastructure; that will end up doing more harm than good to your service delivery and operations.

If you’ve been using either a private-only or public-only cloud plan; and want to see your business grow, consider orchestrating a hybrid cloud.

There are still many more things to consider when it comes to managing a truly effective hybrid cloud infrastructure. Speak to the Empower IT team; to ensure your hybrid cloud implementation is a harmonious one. Contact us today to find out how you can go hybrid!