Avoiding the Common Pitfalls in Hybrid Cloud Environments

The cloud is inevitable. A hybrid cloud environment is gaining steam as the best bet in cloud strategy, because it allows you leverage the distinct benefits of diverse cloud environments.  However, there are several considerations from an IT perspective before deciding on a solution and groundwork to be done at the organizational level prior to implementation.

Hybrid cloud environments present a host of benefits, but as with any technology, they have certain drawbacks to be aware of. Reduce the likelihood of problems in the future, by avoiding these common pitfalls when implementing hybrid cloud environments.

  1. Understand how you are going to predict, control, and allocate costs.Initial and ongoing costs must be assessed. How much of the IT budget will go towards cloud technology, cloud implementation, cloud maintenance and/or cloud support? Personnel costs like new employees need to be weighed against training your current staff or hiring a managed cloud service company (or a combination of these choices).Also look at data costs. Creating a cloud environment isn’t just about server and storage costs. Understanding how to leverage clouds to avoid over paying for data movement or communication from one server to the next for example is vital. Amazon is a good example here. If you use a public IP, you haven’t purchased dedicated bandwidth so there is a data charge against each IP address. Say you have a video that’s 150 MB that you are encouraging site visitors to download. What happens if you get a huge surge of downloads – do you have the budget for this popularity? Also, some servers have a constant dialogue back and forth, and what appears to be a small GB charge adds up quickly.Other costs to consider include custom security requirements and disaster recovery or fail-over. Some services have these costs embedded, others require you to pay extra.Put together a list of your needs and map those needs against the cloud type. Satisfy your needs while keeping cost contained by doing your homework.
  1. Create defined criteria for your workloads and determine which cloud to allocate them to. When looking at hybrid cloud environments, you have a myriad of options. Your workloads should define which choices you make for housing your data. What type of security, performance, operations or cost do you expect for each data set?  Define your needs and work backwards to map these needs to an offering.  For example, storing sensitive employee or customer data in the cloud can be risky if not done right. The hybrid cloud model can effectively move some workloads to the public cloud, while maintaining sensitive data on-premise. Keep in mind however that private cloud isn’t always the most secure option. If you have a private cloud with aging infrastructure and questionable security, you may want to consider a public cloud with strict compliance and security options instead.
  1. Understand how you are going to monitor and manage your hybrid cloud More efficient resource management is one of the most-cited benefits of a hybrid cloud environment. Having a complete view of your resources can take a lot of strain out of managing servers, operating systems, and networks. That being said, consider carefully what you want your internal technical resources focused on. How will ongoing monitoring and maintenance be managed? Do you need a particular solution for compliance and does your internal team have the right skill set? Do you want to maintain backups or is that something you can offload? Which of these aspects will be outsourced to technology service partners, and which will be developed or retained in-house?
  1. Take security seriously and ask the right questions.While hybrid cloud environments are designed to alleviate security risks, there are perils in every environment. Whether you have decided on a public cloud or private cloud for a particular data set there are questions that your provider should be able to answer. Don’t just accept their assurances that your data is safe, ask questions. Do they have encryption at rest and in flight? Do they have antivirus and malware detection with alerts and reporting? What is their disaster recovery or backup process for your data? What is included in the price and what is extra?Don’t forget about the human element. As with any environment, limit your employee access to what they need.  Don’t create sweeping cloud admin access. A great employee can quickly become a real danger to the company, if disgruntled.Whether your concerns are with technology or with employee access, address these issues at the start, not when they become a problem.
  1. Understand what your compliance requirements are and how you will fulfill those requirements.Industry standards and regulations should factor into your hybrid cloud design, planning, and implementation. You may need to comply with regulations where you have servers, other physical locations, or even significant numbers of employees. Since just one cloud environment already presents challenges with respect to compliance, all the components of a hybrid model need to be evaluated as a singular environment, and as separate environments, in all stages of planning and deployment.
  1. Do not underestimate the impact that hybrid cloud deployment may have on your internal team.Your employees will need training and support at all stages, from planning to deployment. Big sweeping changes in any department can cause unrest. Particularly in IT, employees don’t want to feel like they are falling behind. Your tech talent has gotten used to their tools and methods, and a sudden upheaval to their routines can cause a major disruption or even unhappiness. Make sure to provide ongoing training and support with both IT change management experts and trainers who are well-versed in hybrid cloud models.
  1. Not all cloud providers are created equal. Understand where they specialize.Come prepared and with a long list of questions about the types of hybrid cloud environments they have previously built. What industries has the cloud provider specialized in, and what problems are they best known for solving? Which type of enterprise do they serve the most? What is their history in the data center and what training do they have with new technologies? Look for a cloud provider who can design the hybrid cloud model that distinctly fits your organization’s needs and challenges. Cloud providers frequently have specific industries they focus on, such as healthcare or retail. A cloud provider who designs solutions for Fortune 500 companies may have solutions for smaller organizations, but less apt to understand day-to-day technology issues at this scale.

Comport offers decades of trusted expertise in the data center, moving data from on-premise to the cloud and back again. Let us set your organization on the right path with an effective hybrid cloud strategy and deployment plan. Our custom solutions and the time we take to understand your particular business needs set us apart. Contact us today to speak to one of our cloud computing experts.


Author: Bill Flatley, Field CTO for Healthcare

Bill is responsible for technical strategies and recommendations for Comport’s Healthcare clients. His extensive experience includes four healthcare systems in leadership roles supporting Clinical Applications, Digital Health, and Office of the CIO as the primary liaison between IT and the business.

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