As we discussed in our white paper, “Augmenting and Enhancing Your Existing Network with a Hybrid Cloud,” there are many advantages of a hybrid cloud model such as greater levels of redundancy and elasticity. To acquire the advantages that a hybrid cloud offers requires a lot of planning and preparation. We have compiled a comprehensive checklist to aid you in the preparation of your deployment.
1. State the purpose of why you want to move to a hybrid cloud and what you want to achieve
Greater levels of redundancy, scalability, and elasticity are a few of the many reasons why adopting a hybrid cloud solution can be advantageous for your company. We’ve recognized that many hybrid cloud benefits tend to align with an enterprise’s digital transformation business objectives. With that being said, getting the most value out of this deployment is essential, which is why it is important to do plenty of research to avoid running into unexpected problems down the road. You need clear objectives in order to justify such a transition in not only resource allocation but computing philosophy as well.
2. Assess your network infrastructure
If you don’t currently utilize cloud computing, you need to assess your network bandwidth to ensure that your users get the same performance from the cloud that they experience within the LAN. Take the time to identify and rectify any latency bottlenecks. Increasing your internet to 2GB or more will have little impact if it still connects to a 1GB interface on your firewall. Be sure to assess your routers and core switches as well. The location of your data and services when accessing them should be totally transparent from a performance point of view. Remember that large amounts of data will be traveling to and from the cloud if you are employing the cloud as a primary storage silo.
3. Evaluate the skill set of your IT staff
Don’t just assume that your IT staff has the necessary skills to successfully manage a cloud environment or that they can adapt to it quickly. The traditional network is designed around making the user experience as managed and controlled as possible in an infrastructure defined by standard protocols. On the other hand, the cloud is designed to support web services and is about elasticity, agility and perpetual alteration. It is a world in which applications are assigned and not installed.
4. Evaluate compliancy, government, and corporate policy
This is most important if you are considering hosting data in the cloud. Being aware of compliance requirements is most important if you are considering hosting data in the cloud. Industry or governmental regulations may require certain data types to be stored on premise, which is important to know. In some cases, your own corporate policies may require you to do the same. A thorough study of your data types should be performed in order to identify any compliance issues.
5. Select which applications you will host in the cloud
You must evaluate which applications are capable of fully operating within a hybrid cloud environment. Before moving to a hybrid cloud environment, you must evaluate which applications are capable of fully operating in the new space. While some application types such as email or disaster recovery (DRaaS) are created with the cloud in mind, many applications are not. For example, if you are replacing server hosted applications with a cloud equivalent, you need to have a plan for how to decommission the on premise application once your users have fully transitioned to the new platform.
6. Do your homework in selecting a cloud provider and negotiating an SLA
Be sure to read the Service Level Agreements of all proposed providers and fully understand where the separation of responsibility and security lie between you and the provider. Like any big business decision, you should carefully review the pros and cons of all available options. There are a number of public cloud service providers that can operate within a hybrid model environment, so there is no shortage of possibilities. Sometimes the nature of your data may dictate that you only work with a vendor that specializes in providing a hosting environment to fulfill compliance requirements and regulations. Circumstances such as these will limit your available options; as always, WEI is happy to help assess your unique situation.
7. Compare the upload methods and managerial processes
If you are migrating data or server resources to the cloud, you need to understand the upload process and how it is implemented. Your organization’s on premise data center and the cloud itself may be securely locked down, but your data can be exposed during the upload process, leaving you vulnerable to security breaches. In most cases, this will involve some sort of VPN connection to encrypt the transfer process, so some vendors may provide a gateway storage appliance to handle data transfers both ways. If you are migrating some of your servers to the cloud, you may be required to manage each instance with a separate interface, while other solutions may allow you to manage your entire enterprise with a single VM.
8. Test, test, and test again
Before you begin fully migrating your data and resources, it’s important to conduct tests within a non-production environment; some vendors may offer a free trial period to do this. Testing will give you a chance to not only become familiar with the interface of the product, but also discover any limitations or potential obstacles in working with your on premise environment. For advice on test driving cloud services, see this blog post.
There are many benefits that come along with the hybrid cloud. This checklist is a strong first step for organizations looking to optimize their IT strategy and operational abilities. Planning a successful hybrid cloud implementation takes time and research. Because of this complexity, it is advisable to collaborate with an IT solutions provider like WEI to help guide you through the process. As anyone who has gone through the process will affirm, the cloud environment isn’t a mere replica of the traditional data center environment. The cloud uses different terminology, services, and protocols than you may be familiar with.