6 considerations before soaring into the hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud blends a mix of on-premise private and public cloud features to achieve specific IT systems requirements of an organization that cannot be met by any one of them alone. They are typically used when systems requirements are unique and organizations are willing to accept the high cost of developing, maintaining, and managing such systems.

Hybrid cloud solutions are generally designed with interconnections between a public cloud and a private cloud in order to accomplish a specific division of functions. The design is often in such a manner that the private cloud handles critical data that has specific privacy requirements, while the public cloud component is utilized to handle non-critical data.

Before you start to get all cloudy about this, if you are thinking about going for a hybrid cloud based design for your organization, here are a few aspects to consider.

IT budget

What is the size of your organization’s IT budget? Compared to public clouds, private cloud systems are extremely expensive to design, develop, and maintain. We know you do not want to spend money like the White House does, as you cannot afford to put yourself trillions of dollars behind.

Moreover, in the case of public cloud systems, the provider you contract with uses the cloud location to serve several individuals and businesses, not just yours. So, design and development costs are next to zero while usage costs are low, given that shared resources are being utilized.

Hybrid cloud based systems that are well designed have lower development and maintenance costs than private cloud based systems, since they use some public cloud components to implement the design.

Size of IT department and staffing

Given that hybrid clouds implement complex interfaces between public and private cloud systems, your business will need to have an IT department as large as you would need for a private cloud based setup. Unlike a private cloud based system, a hybrid cloud based system does utilize some public cloud components for which the maintenance responsibility rests in the hands of other providers.

However, given the number of systems interactions between the private and public cloud components, the overall complexity of the system goes up and there arises the need for a large sized IT department.

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Data privacy requirements

It is vital to consider the nature of your sector and the data privacy requirements specific to it. For instance, if your business is in healthcare, such as an insurance company, a hospital, a doctor, or a pharmacy, federal HIPAA regulations place strict controls over the safe storage, processing, and handling of consumer data.

A careful review of the regulations would let you know whether your organization could tap public or hybrid cloud systems as opposed to private clouds which would be more expensive to implement and maintain.

While private clouds are the safest, most comprehensive solution from the point of data privacy, hybrid clouds could also be a genuine option. If you are taking the hybrid cloud route, your design will need to ensure that all data is encrypted on the private cloud side before being transmitted to the public cloud based systems. There absolutely cannot be any storage of unencrypted sensitive data on public cloud system components in such situations. Nor can there be any access to keys provided to components or personnel on the public cloud side.

Software and systems enhancements projections

This has to do with the way you foresee the future development needs of your IT systems to be. Consider that you are planning to do the system implementation as a sequence of 3 big bangs over a year, at the end of which you are expecting a system code and definition that is more than 99% stabilized. If your vision is that once user acceptance testing is completed, not many enhancements would be expected in the pipeline, you could very well consider a hybrid cloud based design for your system.

In a hybrid cloud based design, there is a possible dependency on the provider maintaining the public cloud components, each time an enhancement is to be made. This also creates a dependency of your schedule on the provider’s which has to be incorporated into work estimates and timelines on your side. If your business is willing to absorb the timeline impacts, by all means, go ahead. It may not make sense to select a hybrid cloud otherwise.

SLA requirements

SLA requirements from internal and external stakeholders that are expected to be met by your business are a key factor in determining whether you should choose a hybrid cloud based design. For instance, in the financial services industry, there are a number of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly reporting requirements imposed by regulators such as the SEC and FINRA on all market participants including mutual funds and broker dealers.

Apart from that, several reports will need to be generated periodically for internal departments such as Audit and Finance. Such businesses will need to make a comprehensive review of the final business and systems requirements to see whether SLA requirements can be met while using a hybrid cloud based design.

Capacity scaling requirements

For any growing business that has a heavy dependency on IT systems for day to day operations, capacity planning is a vital factor in determining if hybrid cloud based systems can be chosen. While public clouds give you scalability on demand, their capacities may not be tailored to specific organizational requirements.

Also, if your business is in areas such as e-commerce, then you would often need rapid systems scale-ups to meet extreme spikes in demand. For such situations, private or hybrid clouds would be a better fit. This is not something you should decide on a Friday night at a sports bar after you have had a few while watching a sporting event either. This decision is a little more critical than that.

If well designed, hybrid cloud systems can give you a nice intermediate between highly expensive private cloud systems (which can give you the maximum ability to scale up on demand) and public cloud systems which give you the least flexibility and leverage over capacity, this may be the direction you want to take. By employing some public cloud systems components, hybrid clouds can be a lower cost alternative. In a recessionary environment and when businesses are being taxed left and right, any time you can save on costs it is not something to be overlooked.

Cloud computing services deliver value to businesses by reducing development and maintenance costs, easing software maintenance and updates, providing flexible capacity, and helping them focus on their core businesses. Hybrid clouds can be a sagacious option because they give you the dedicated abilities of private cloud based systems at price-points that are closer to that of public cloud based systems. Not a bad deal!

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