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Hybrid Cloud: Advice on Strategy & Why It's Important To Your Business

Many IT leaders feel pressure to ‘pick the winner’ with their cloud strategy. In fact, some cloud providers are intentionally adding to that pressure by issuing ‘gag-orders’ on their partners from even mentioning the phrase “multi-cloud’. So it’s no wonder that the majority of workloads are still running on-prem or in a colocation (colo).

The good news, is that according to Gartner research, the hype around ‘hybrid cloud’ is ending, and we are about to enter the next stages where you can really start to see the business value behind it.

See their 2019 hype cycle forecast:

Gartner Hype Cycle For Midsize Enterprises, 2019

For our clients a ‘hybrid cloud’ strategy means extending your network and security operations from on-prem and colo’s into one or more public cloud providers.

Quick Wins

If you have not started your cloud journey yet, you can stop feeling pressure to pick a winner and instead leverage each cloud provider and data center provider for their unique strengths and cost competitiveness for three specific quick-win goals:

  • Leverage different clouds to create innovative new customer experiences and predictive analytics that utilize the massive R&D investments from the cloud providers.

  • Leverage the cloud for seasonal / bursty, fast-growing, or multiple region workloads where you can save money by optimizing utilization and stop being forced to buy for peak or forecasted capacity requirements.

  • Engage your security team as the driver of the initiative and take advantage of the cloud logging, monitoring, and advanced threat detection like Backstory

Google is the leader here, meeting you where you are, acknowledging your unique strategy for how you want to mix where workloads are running. Google’s strategy is to minimize your risk of starting with them. Lots of announcements this year from Google bear this out (like Robert Enslin’s response to AWS’s multi-cloud blackout and Thomas Kurian’s talk at Google Next 2019).Multi-cloud is a reality for many customers & Google embraces openness and choice.

This basic methodology starts with a project called “Cloud Plan Infrastructure Foundations” – it could also be called “design your hybrid cloud network and security infrastructure”.Cloud Plan Infrastructure Foundations

Business Case

The business case has 2 parts:

  1. Capex vs. Opex: If you have the cash flow to support hardware refreshes and avoid reliability issues with older systems, you can focus your cloud investment where flexibility of the cloud (auto-scale up/down, regional) has the highest hard ROI and leave the rest on-prem.

  2. Gain another 9 in reliability: If you have business critical workloads where outages have immediate and substantial revenue loss, you can gain another 9 in reliability by using your hybrid clouds for failover.

One of our clients recently said creating their hybrid cloud network and security infrastructure was like ‘paving a road’ to make it easier for the business to choose when and where to take advantage of Google Cloud, everything would already be in place to make that fast and secure. Rather than force their many business units and subsidiaries to standardize on a single cloud, they are looking to perform similar steps for all major cloud providers to head off shadow IT and to not be a roadblock for innovation. 

Getting started and looking into the future

The following is a roadmap from a recent client’s journey from basically no cloud usage, to where they are today and where they want to go.  Hybrid Cloud | Cloudbakers

The first step helped the infrastructure and security teams learn the concepts of GCP infrastructure and become comfortable with the recognition that this can be thought of as another data center with secure networking routes from on-prem to cloud services behind the firewall. The key decision here was how they wanted to connect their on-prem data center to GCP – via VPN or Interconnect.

The second step was to create “Cloud Plan Infrastructure Foundations” – a technical infrastructure design for the network and security settings to enable a hybrid cloud. The 65-page document has become their living reference point for the entire IT organization.

The third step used the design to build out Infrastructure as code (IaC) using Terraform to create the projects, networks, services, accounts, keys, VMs, etc. for each environment (dev, test, prod). This step also included creating the pipeline to approve and release changes to the infrastructure into production (known as CICD).

The fastest ROI in the cloud for this client was to retire their expensive SIEM solution and move logging, monitoring, correlation, threat detection, and incident management to GCP. This will also include using Backstory to capture collective threat intelligence.

Rather than risking downtime and having a cutover window for their VM migration approach, this client decided to build out a Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) environment for the first application they wanted to migrate to the cloud. Once the DR environment tests were successful, they executed the recovery process to change production to the cloud environment on a slower schedule. This enabled them to protect their servers while simultaneously preparing for a workload migration. 

This client is now beginning their Application Modernization journey into containers and serverless workloads. This process will start with a basic inventory of services and roadmap of first-movers to iterate through an upgrade process (using shadowing and validation).

The hybrid structure will allow this client to take advantage of the growing spot market for running workloads to capture further savings and cost optimization.

Bringing the cloud down to earth

Starting with a hybrid cloud does not have to be a complex and expensive process. Cloudbakers, with Google Cloud, can help you achieve a simple, secure, and ‘paved road’ to support your business objectives this year and beyond.

Up next in our discussion of the Hybrid Cloud will introduce you to the networking security components offered by GCP. Subscribe to our blog and stay tuned!

Originally published on September 27, 2019

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