The IT world is and remains hybrid. Firstly, because there will always be applications for which local infrastructures have to be kept available. Just as on the one hand the regulations will not always allow all data to be moved to the cloud, on the other hand it is not possible to obtain all services from the cloud. On the other hand, hybrid IT can combine the best of both worlds. And because hybrid IT not only includes the shared use of on-prem applications and public cloud services, but also includes multi-cloud structures, the hybrid world offers users the freedom to connect and run services and applications, where it makes the most sense.
In order to be able to adapt this freedom to your own needs, you need a well-developed operating model and, above all, an overview in the form of hybrid IT management. In the past, it was all too often seen how quickly company-internal IT can lose it: Specialist departments like to get services from the cloud on their own in order to advance their business faster. The consequences were shadow IT and an unmanageable zoo of software-as-a-service (SaaS) products. If you want to avoid this from the start, you should first take a step back on the way to cloud services and consider why you actually want to use public cloud infrastructures.
Information on the partner packages of the ‘Hybrid IT Management’ study
Just three or four years ago, medium-sized companies in particular had the intention of reducing costs with the cloud. Today, the intention is rather to implement new and innovative topics for business via cloud technologies. The cost discussion became an intensive search for the purpose. Does the move to the cloud drive the company’s digitalization strategy, or does your own company simply need services that you cannot or do not want to provide yourself? Because the ravages of time are gnawing at the data center and your own IT infrastructure is no longer suitable for modern applications? The reasons that motivate companies to go to the cloud can be divided into three models:
At the tactical approach it’s about using analytics from the cloud for an application or having a special workload in the cloud. The advantage: hardly any changes to the operating model. A hybrid model is very often an option for this approach.
Bringing multiple workloads or entire applications such as security and network to the cloud is the intention of the strategic approach.
And finally there are the companies that have one transformational approach pursue because, for example, they will have to get out of their data center in the next few years. The leap from this data center take-out can be a hybrid approach that serves to bring the application data into a cloud-native world.
Few organizations are driven by transformational backgrounds or even go completely cloud-native. Of course, this also depends on whether the company comes from an area such as finance or insurance, is subject to regulation or whether it is a digital-native company. Companies like Zalando, Trivago or Booking.com will always have an easier time going to the cloud with their handful of applications than, for example, Deutsche Post or Telekom. As is well known in this country, one tends to be relatively conservative and cautious, so the most common way is to switch from the tactical to the strategic approach.
In addition to these approaches, there is also a practical reason to be interested in the cloud: agility. Services can be obtained much more quickly and easily, there is no hardware to procure, no know-how to build up, and no admins to keep up with operations. In short: The fact that you get the fully managed service from the cloud is a strong argument for companies for whom IT is only a tool for their core business.
Whether it is the advantages of elasticity in the cloud, the cost advantages, interesting functions that can be obtained quickly and easily, the deployment or the time to market – only when the question of ‘why’ has been clarified and strategically delimited, you can check which applications are actually suitable for the cloud approach. However, one has to differentiate between front-end and back-end strategies and separate the topic of the workplace from the back-end. Because: The role of IT is changing in general.
While IT used to be responsible for keeping the systems running, today it has to focus on application operations and better support the business. This requires understanding and managing the partner ecosystem. If you look at the management consoles of the various clouds, you quickly come to the conclusion that there is a lot to do. For example, it is best to leave the on- and off-boarding of employees to IT so that they can keep track of their data access even if the role of an employee changes within the company. IT also has the task of specifying governance and determining who can create new resources. To solve a bit in the hybrid world and to enable the business areas to create containers themselves is an important requirement for IT in the hybrid world.
Creating guardrails for business to ensure flexibility also means modernizing the organization within the company accordingly. However, due to the speed that the cloud offers, many companies still struggle to build mixed teams, DevOps, and an agile organization. Currently, bimodal IT infrastructures are still a tried and tested means in IT. But even here you have to take an intermediate step with hybrid technologies that allows you to follow up on the organization.
“Hybrid IT Management” study: You can still participate!
COMPUTERWOCHE is currently conducting a multi-client study among IT decision-makers on the subject of hybrid IT management. If you have any questions about this study or if you want to become a partner, Ms. Regina Hermann (firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 089 36086 384) and Ms. Nicole Bruder (email@example.com, phone: 089 360 86 137) will be happy to help . Information on the Hybrid IT Management Study can also be downloaded here (PDF).
With all the on-demand options that you have in the cloud, you will eventually find that it is usually not as cheap as originally thought. If you start with the IaaS models to move individual functions to the cloud, you will quickly notice that you still need this and that. And suddenly you’re about to rebuild half the data center from the physical world in the cloud. It is therefore not enough just to monitor efficiency, but also the costs, which include the opportunity costs. Consistent cost monitoring will certainly also result in a return movement: a repatriation of applications that do not have the necessary cloud-typical elasticity or functionality, which is why cloud operation is too expensive.
In the case of legacy applications, on the other hand, which are actually not primarily suitable for the cloud, a lift & shift with refactoring can be observed in the cloud. The conversion of the applications, if they support the business process, as well as modern microservices will play a major role in the future, but this will also increase the complexity of the infrastructure. The ideal solution would be a platform that decides for the in
dividual workload where it should run best. There are approaches for this, but a lot still has to be assembled via APIs before a uniform administration platform is available that brings together the different cloud services.
Information on the partner packages of the ‘Hybrid IT Management’ study
A well-intentioned tip from the experts is not to staple the microservices onto a single cloud and to think very carefully in advance how deep you can go into the application and possibly lock-in with it. If the customer uses special hyperscaler-specific functions for his application, a change later is no longer so easy. In addition, such is neither contractually nor technically simple. The move incurs considerable migration costs. If the Hyperscaler’s database is used, the move would result in migration. Containerization of applications and Kubernetes slightly reduces the depth of the anchoring, but data management remains the challenge.
Setting up open source databases is an available option, but the general goal should be to create a suitable data structure for hybrid environments that can be put together as desired. The classification according to customer, device, transaction or monitoring data as well as a sourcing strategy for data storage can help to act more flexibly if a hyperscaler change actually occurs.
It is advisable not only to look at data storage from the operating perspective, but above all to access it for development, applications and services. Driven by the big internet giants, there are already new APIs that are independent of the data structure used. And this must also be available so that the application can be used in different environments without having to change the code – and the hybrid IT world is somewhat easier to manage.