4 Lessons Learned From Moving to Hybrid IT

While working in the Equinix Professional Services for Cloud organization in New York City, I see a lot of customers ̶ mainly financial services and local government agencies in the Northeast ̶ moving to hybrid IT by enabling cloud computing because of its flexibility, reliability and lower costs. The cloud allows them to work from anywhere and quickly create a highly available and fully functional test/development or disaster recovery environment, and cut hardware costs. Much of this cloud migration results from the acquisition of a new business or a de-investment from an old business. There is also a lot of “lifting and shifting” of applications, as well as new apps being developed for the cloud that are a mix of database, home-grown apps, management platforms, and backup and disaster recovery solutions.

In addition, not a lot of our customers are moving completely out of their data centers. They want to protect the huge investments they have made in their on-premises IT infrastructures. As a result, they are partially moving applications to the cloud by leveraging Equinix’s data center colocation and interconnection platform to create hybrid IT infrastructures.

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Here are four lessons I’ve learned from working with these customers to help them develop and deploy hybrid IT infrastructures:

  1. Apps most likely will need to be rewritten.
    Many customers find they have to rewrite applications to take full advantage of the flexibility and agility of the cloud. In fact, many see how ineffective their “on-premises” applications have been once they start optimizing them for the cloud. Here’s why: Because IT organizations have been in the practice of over-provisioning their on-premises IT infrastructures so they can have the extra compute or storage headroom to scale, they do not develop applications as efficiently as they would if they were writing them natively for the cloud, where they can take advantage of the cloud’s on-demand scalability.
  2. Security is a shared responsibility between the enterprise and cloud service providers. Security and privacy issues that are specific to the cloud seem to be a mystery to an enterprise’s security staff because they can’t see it, touch it or control it. Security personnel need to better understand where the lines are drawn between them and their cloud service providers (CSPs). Once they do, they can develop a joint plan with their CSPs to quickly proceed with hybrid cloud migration.
  3. You’ll want to take advantage of the redundancy features in the cloud.
    Cloud platforms inherently have built-in redundancies for systems, storage and networks. Clouds can also be leveraged as a backup or disaster recovery (DR) environment for an enterprise’s on-premise IT infrastructure, or a fail-safe solution for applications that are being supported between two separate cloud platforms, such as AWS and Microsoft Azure. For those applications that were built for high availability and DR, the cloud is the ideal platform. And many other applications, would benefit from being re-architected to leverage the cloud’s redundancy features to lower application downtime and increase accessibility to data.
  4. Cloud service quality requires direct, low-latency, secure and resilient connections.
    Many enterprises access the cloud via VPN gateways or going over the internet. These methods typically experience high latency and difficulty moving large workloads into the cloud. Distributed, interconnection cloud exchanges can provide direct, high-speed and more reliable connections to clouds, such as with the AWS Direct Connect and Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute via the Equinix Cloud Exchange. These interconnection solutions increase control over connection speeds and provide lower latency because they connect to the cloud from the closest end point, making workloads appear to be local. These are guaranteed private connections, so the security and resiliency are also superior to VPNs and the public internet.

The move to hybrid IT holds numerous benefits, but it is a venture best entered with eyes wide open to ensure you can take full advantage of all the cloud offers. Read the Gartner report, “Colocation-Based Interconnection,” to see how enterprises can leverage hybrid IT to manage their resources and assets in the cloud alongside their on-premises and colocation infrastructures.