I&O leaders must confront the challenges of Hybrid IT

While enterprises have adopted the use of the cloud for greater IT agility and ROI, concerns about its use for mission-critical legacy applications and data privacy compliance mean businesses frequently opt to keep some of their IT operations on-prem.

This is known as hybrid IT – a combination of on-premises data centers, and private & public cloud – already a commonplace in enterprise IT environments.

The advent of this mix-and-match approach means I&O leaders face ‘cascade effects’ prompted by the multi-dimensional complexities it brings. But to cope with these new challenges, many traditional Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) tools have reached their expiry date.

So, as I&O leaders are under pressure to rapidly create, set up, and manage dynamic application environments that help accelerate business goals, they must simultaneously develop and implement new strategies and tools to maximize productivity and minimize the potential risks they can bring.

 

Hybrid IT management

In many ways, hybrid IT can offer the best of both worlds – the opportunity to take advantage of leading cloud services while retaining the security and control of legacy and sensitive applications in-house.

At its best, when systems are optimally configured to work together, hybrid IT offers efficient, rapidly scalable, and on-demand IT service availability. But naturally, as data gets stored in different locations and enterprise workloads are spread, across different locations, departments, and systems, silos of communication and visibility can quickly arise.

To avoid this, organizations must find ways to integrate and orchestrate IT spread across multiple on-prem and cloud infrastructure. With effective hybrid IT management, I&O leaders can do this, as well as place individual workloads in optimal environments.

One way to manage hybrid IT is by harnessing new I&O tools, such as Unified Infrastructure Management (UIM) platforms, which incorporate automated operations functions and advanced analytics with features found in commonly used IT services and cloud management tools.

As such, these platforms function to create a framework that pools and organizes IT assets across hybrid environments to enable organizations to leverage their IT services on demand by understanding which services they can access on-prem and from third-party providers.

 

Preparing for data breaches

Distributed infrastructure allows data to be efficiently processed as close as possible to its source, bringing benefits for latency and efficiency. It also enables access to data and IT services wherever the business use case demands – key in an age where much of the workforce has migrated to working from home.

Three-quarters of global enterprises now describe their data infrastructure strategy as multi-cloud or hybrid; an approach chosen to create greater shareability, flexibility and growth capacity. But the wide and varying distribution of hybrid IT can pose risks to the data it spreads along with it.

Maintaining visibility over hybrid environments of high operational complexity also poses a significant security challenge to I&O leaders. Unsurprisingly, gaps can be missed, and vulnerabilities go unaddressed. As a result, bad actors have greater openings to exploit when trying to access company and customer information – with very real results for privacy and security.

Additionally, synchronization features can leave the whole database vulnerable to viruses, as infected files from one user’s system can spread across the entire database. Without the correct management, these risks will continue to grow alongside the level of distribution.

To safely manage the growth of distributed data, I&O teams need to conduct impact assessments for the use of data within distributed infrastructure, identifying where and how it is used, potential risks that could arise as it grows in volume and distribution – and their ability to protect and manage it securely.

Ensuring they can do so may require hiring extra administrative staff, developing the right governance early on, taking advantage of the local control offered by distributed cloud databases, and – crucially – ensuring hard copies of data are kept while allowing teams remote access.

 

The advantages and disadvantages of distributed cloud

Digital transformation throughout industries has seen a burgeoning adoption of the cloud, with more and more business functions migrating there.

With a hybrid IT approach, having to manage on-prem, cloud and edge compute infrastructure can mean missing out on some of the key advantages of cloud, enabled by its unification of technology across the organization.

An increasingly popular feature of hybrid IT is the distributed cloud approach, which allows companies to operate public cloud services in different locations and manage them within a centralized dashboard – while cloud providers retain ownership, operational, governance, and update responsibilities.

And the benefits can be significant. According to Santhosh Rao, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner, “multi-cloud computing lowers the risk of cloud provider lock-in, and can provide service resiliency and migration opportunities, in addition to the core cloud benefits of agility, scalability and elasticity.” Other advantages include being able to meet localized requirements for compliance and performance while benefitting from the provider’s management and expertise that comes with their control.

This model can however present significant challenges, and I&O leaders must weigh up its payoffs by asking questions such as how will the lifecycle management of hardware will be actioned, which SLAs will be required for the solution, and how they can reasonably be met? As well as these ‘Day 2’ considerations, I&O teams must also find the right use cases, technology vendors, and architectures to ensure safe and successful cloud projects.

One way for I&O to evaluate if the benefits outweigh the operational challenges is to simulate these challenges in a distributed model, measure their ability to cope with downtime while hardware is serviced, and identify performance bottlenecks.

 

Hybrid IT environments need hybrid management services

Underlying hybrid IT environments are often complex, multi-vendor hardware systems, distributed in distinct locations, and managed by different teams with multiple vendor contracts, all with their own conditions.

What’s more, with the increasingly complex and unique applications and configurations of hybrid IT, traditional management techniques are reaching their limits while the need for ever-greater levels of customization continues to grow.

In this context, I&O teams and their budgets would benefit from less complexity – not more. One smart approach being explored is a hybrid approach to IT infrastructure management by partnering with third-party, brand-agnostic IT service providers. These companies can help optimize IT environments, identify vulnerabilities, and develop accompanying recovery plans.

This management style offers the advantage of combining all brands of hardware in a single, centralized contract with one point of contact to support entire IT infrastructures. Choosing providers with global reach, such as Evernex, creates the added advantage of receiving specialized, technical support at a time and in a language that caters to the geographical distribution of equipment.

 

Evernex has 40 years’ experience providing customized support to meet the needs of thousands of unique, multi-vendor IT systems. If you would like assistance managing your hybrid IT, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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