Migrating to the Cloud Is a Good Start, but What You Do Next is Critical

NetworkWorldSeptember 24, 2018

Today, it seems like every business is migrating to the cloud. And it’s true — nearly three in four businesses are using cloud solutions to augment traditional networking practices, with no signs of slowing down. The cloud’s potential has captured the attention of business leaders across nearly every industry, thanks to its promise of speed, scale and control. In fact, nine out of 10 companies rely on the cloud to accelerate digital transformation and drive business growth.

Meanwhile, the adoption of cloud computing can bring “cloudier” days if an organization doesn’t consider and prepare for the complexities of migration, or the integration challenges it can bring if a hybrid model is introduced. So, how can enterprises better manage these environments to keep businesses agile, flexible and efficient, post-migration? It takes a combination of increased visibility, automation and security.

As hybrid cloud architectures are deployed, new challenges arise

Since its infancy, the cloud has conditioned businesses to expect more: on demand availability, simplicity and speed. Businesses today are looking to improve productivity by offloading resources to the cloud and reduce costs with flexible subscription-based pricing models.

Education is a prime example of this. The top reason K-12 school IT managers move to the cloud is to offer, “easy access from anywhere,” as described in a recent report from CDW. Because schools and universities are often constrained when it comes to support and resources, the cloud helps IT departments access key documents, applications and files as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Health care is another area that is experiencing rapid benefits from the cloud. For hospitals and health clinics, the cloud enables them to safely store online medical records, making it easier to archive and access patient records and medical images that are critical throughout the treatment process. 

However, when an enterprise uses a hybrid cloud architecture to improve their business functions, the level of complexity also increases. This can cause challenges if the IT team cannot properly manage the new infrastructure which incorporates multiple cloud deployment models storing a variety of applications.

In the retail industry, brands must offer personalized customer experiences, or risk losing loyal customers. The cloud enables businesses to store data required to make unique recommendations, but if the IT department is overwhelmed by complexity, sales can be lost and profit can decline. Or, think of a college campus, where student privacy is important. If the cloud environment is not compliant with FERPA, HIPAA, CIPA or COPPA regulatory guidelines, data moving across on-premise to cloud platforms are at risk of being compromised.

We know the success of a company’s cloud strategy can be directly affected by its willingness and ability to confront and manage the complexity that the cloud can bring. On top of it, workloads are increasing, budgets are decreasing, and data is more prevalent than ever before. IT departments must find a way to deliver self-service public cloud and private infrastructure while providing the tools for others to easily manage cost, security and compliance.  

Management is the answer

Today, enterprises need the ability to manage complex hybrid cloud environments to service different needs, and it’s fueling the demand for integrated management solutions. Regardless of the organization’s size or industry sector, these solutions must be able to support various cloud environments and offer distinct capabilities. When evaluating different solutions and hybrid cloud management strategies, enterprises should look to these four key considerations:

1. Understand what’s being managed in the cloud

To be successful, organizations must look at their existing cloud solutions, architecture and management from a holistic perspective. Typically, enterprises are able to manage their on-premise infrastructure resources internally; however, when applications and data are spread across a number of cloud platforms, management solutions become increasingly important. Understanding what the applications do, including their place in the network, security patterns and performance, is critical.

2. Single pane of glass/visibility

When managing a hybrid cloud environment, organizations need to think about the tools they are using to help increase visibility across platforms. Private and public clouds come with their own native APIs and resources, meaning they manage storage, networking, provisioning and security, differently. A single pane of glass interface deals with the differences on an organization’s behalf between the different clouds that are under management. Therefore, by aggregating all platforms and their respective resources into one view, IT departments are able to simplify the translation process across cloud architectures.

3. Automation

Hybrid clouds are designed for automation, meaning they are capable of changing traffic patterns in real time without human interference. Management systems that track traffic using analytics software, and that also manage and adjust workloads, make this a reality by offering end-to-end automation across the environment. This improves efficiency and responsiveness, but sometimes these tools are not optimized for the different traffic patterns a business can experience. In some cases, managing certain workloads on various platforms is not an effective use of automation, and in those cases, leaving a workload off of a hybrid cloud is preferable.

4. Security

Today, businesses need to proactively monitor security measures to ensure that sensitive data is safe. When it comes to the cloud, this is important in two instances: performance and governance. In terms of performance, if some workloads require specific security requirements, it can affect the performance of the network. Nonetheless, data transmitted over the network must be protected, requiring security to be reassessed. When it comes to governance, policies must be managed, written and enforced, which needs to be understood by those who are managing the hybrid cloud.

With automation, visibility and security in place, IT departments can simplify the complexities of hybrid cloud deployments post-migration. In turn, more time can be spent reaping the rewards of increased productivity, cost savings and more efficient workflows.

This article was written by Norman Rice from NetworkWorld and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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