Encompassing a huge range of solutions that can all evolve over time along with your business's needs, hybrid cloud should really be considered a strategy, rather than a service.
Descriptions often position hybrid cloud alongside public and private as the third cloud computing service. Given that hybrid cloud can describe a near infinite number of solutions, and the fact that these can change over time, it makes sense to treat hybrid cloud as a strategy instead.
From a company's first steps into the cloud, combining public or private cloud with their on-premises kit, through to cloud maturity and complex solutions including all manner of platforms and connectivity combinations, it can all be called hybrid cloud.
As such, the term doesn’t describe anything concrete. Rather, it refers to an approach to aligning cloud technology with present and future business needs. Your solution will, in most cases, be completely bespoke, and the service you actually procure will be that of selecting, configuring and connecting the various platforms that make up your hybrid cloud.
Thereafter, your hybrid solution needs to evolve with your business, enabling you to cope with growth, while providing optimum total cost of ownership through the right blend of platforms at any time. This is where your hybrid strategy comes into play, outlining both the initial form and future iterations.
Things to consider when developing your hybrid cloud strategy:
If you're considering a hybrid cloud approach now, then some part of your infrastructure is probably letting you down or worrying you. Other parts of your system, however, could be performing perfectly while operating within specific business parameters for physical location, security, etc. Therefore, your first objective is to architect the solution that meets your current business needs, selecting cloud platforms, providers and connectivity solutions.
The right solution for today may be a far cry from the ideal future solution. If, like many businesses, you are planning a complete move away from on-premises, this probably calls for a phased approach while key components of the solution are defined, tested, implemented and rolled out. Defining the end point will help you to plan and prioritise the steps required to get there.
Check the landscape for any technologies that are emerging or gaining traction now that could provide business advantages for you later. In recent years we have seen the rapid evolution of software-defined networking (SDN), software-defined storage (SDS), disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) and containerisation - to name but a few influential new technologies.
How will the different components of your hybrid infrastructure talk to one another? This may range from private networking within a single vendor’s data centre to inter-site and platform links. Don't forget to consider connectivity with your business locations - is the internet enough or will you need dedicated MPLS circuits?
Migration and portability
Getting applications and data in to and out of cloud platforms over time can be where problems present themselves. While it's not really feasible to avoid vendor lock-in altogether, meaning there will always be some switching costs, planning for these two events in advance can help to minimise their impact. The optimum solution lies in careful vendor selection, creation of supportive SLAs and the constant monitoring of new integrations and app tie-ins that inevitably occur over time.
Support and accountability
Any hybrid cloud solution has multiple components by definition, some potentially within your own walls. Supporting this requires an intimate knowledge of the solution's architecture, clear definition of responsibilities and processes for the management of more complicated issues, should they arise. As with all things, the fewer vendors there are in the mix, the easier this will be to achieve.
Treating hybrid cloud not only as a solution for today but as a strategy for the future enables you to make the best choices of providers and platforms, and plan for a smooth journey from your current requirement to your ideal future state.