There are many reasons why a hybrid cloud environment is still the right choice for many enterprises. Whilst SMB organizations can typically run everything in the cloud apart from a few infrastructure servers, larger enterprises with a big datacenter footprint face a myriad of other considerations and challenges – legacy apps tied to on-premises hardware and apps that are simply not suited to being in the cloud, to name just two. Despite an increasing number of regional data centers, data residency concerns continue to be an issue for some organisations. For those reasons, the hybrid model is here to stay.
Planning for success
One of the biggest mistakes that companies make is thinking that moving to a hybrid model is going to be easy or that it doesn’t require as much planning as a traditional data centre. Jumping straight into implementation and migration, without considering the desired future end-state, can cause a variety of problems and ultimately mean that the business doesn’t realise the benefits it originally sought. In our experience, there are 3 key elements to consider as you approach a hybrid migration.
- Plan from a green-field start – Plan your cloud journey and treat your new Azure environment as a data centre that’s being built out from scratch. It’s all too easy to “dabble” with Azure and end up with a Proof of Concept system in Production, as we’ve all seen many times before. If your business is multinational, think about how you transfer data between regions, for example do you use technologies such as ExpressRoute to make low latency, high bandwidth links to Azure? And ask yourself ‘what is the end state I am looking for to drive the right business outcomes?’
- Carefully plan the order of app migration – Some apps will be easier than others to migrate; some may even need to be rewritten. Get some quick wins with those that are easier to move and work up to the more complex multi-tier apps, advanced apps, or apps that need to interface with on-prem hardware, software and databases.
- Approach data migration as a clean install – The ‘Lift and Shift’ approach where you replicate your previous install in the cloud may give you a speed advantage but all you’re likely to get is ‘your mess for less’. A ‘green-field’ approach enables you to have a clean install just like a server OS refresh. You avoid taking your current ‘sins’ with you and are much better placed to arrive an end-state architecture that facilitates the long-term, strategic view of your cloud journey.
Power through SIAM
The advent of the SIAM model can be particularly successful for businesses looking to create a hybrid environment with multiple service towers. As opposed to the whole environment being controlled and managed by one large outsourcer, business can split work across multiple best of breed partners in Service Towers who then co-ordinate efforts into one SIAM provider.
The biggest advantage this brings is that you’re not locked into one vendor or service provider. You have choice, you can shop around and select smaller best of breed partners who often enable the business to run systems at a lower cost base. And if any one partner isn’t doing their job properly you can more readily swap to another. The SIAM model put simply puts you in the driving seat and gives your business power.
Selecting the right SIAM cloud partner
Where the cloud is concerned, the SIAM model opens up the opportunity to work with a partner with established leadership, deep domain expertise and multiple customers references. Experience of the SIAM model, and what it takes to make it work, is also critical.
New Signature works with a number of customers – Heathrow Airport, Lloyds Register, AMEY and BP to name a few – as one part of a multi-supplier IT operation model. Process and coordination is critical between all companies as is ensuring that every customer has a process and service owner within the business who feed into the SIAM provider.
But for many businesses being able to access not only planning, build and operational expertise but also a full suite of managed services that span the entire hybrid cloud environment is also a key factor in success for ongoing management and optimisation of a hybrid environment.
For example, you will need monitoring support for your whole environment, not component parts of it, to ensure optimum system health and performance. Similarly, proactive services and maintenance activities such as patching, health check-ups, system backups and advisory services, ensure that your environment is safe, secure and running smoothly. When issues arise, can you provide expert assistance to end-users directly as well as providing guidance to in-house IT teams.
And lastly, consider the potential value of having the day-to-day management of your IT environment managed for you so you you focus on your customers and your business’s core competencies. The critical element is selecting a partner that can provide the front-to-back and sustained expertise to help you regardless of whether your infrastructure runs on premises or in the cloud. That way you ensure a best of breed hybrid environment which unleashes the true power and benefit of the SIAM model.