What is Hybrid IT?
Hybrid IT is an enterprise computing method used by organizations to provide and manage information technology (IT) resources both internally, in a traditional data center, and via cloud services. The hybrid approach allows businesses to adopt cloud computing while maintaining a centralized approach to IT governance.
There are three factors driving hybrid IT adoption
- The need to maintain control over data
- Cost-effectiveness of cloud resources, such as software as a service and cloud storage
- The need to rapidly respond to new business requirements
Hybrid IT Benefits
The benefits of a hybrid IT strategy include:
- Allowing companies to scale resources separately for different workloads, selecting the type of infrastructure that best fits business needs.
- Storing data in accordance with regulatory and security requirements, while enjoying cloud features for less sensitive data.
- Flexibility to decide how deeply you need to integrate on-premises and cloud services. Some companies will create a fully hybrid setup with the ability to migrate workloads from on-premises to the cloud, and vice versa. Others will use simple, static connections between environments for specific needs.
- Ability to perform development and testing in the cloud, and then deploy applications on premises, enabling agile development practices.
Building a Hybrid IT Architecture: IaaS, PaaS or SaaS?
A hybrid IT architecture includes applications and data that run internally, as well as data and applications are deployed in the cloud. Cloud products fall into three basic categories: SaaS (Software as a Service), IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and PaaS (Platform as a Service). It is very important to know when to choose between these deployment models.
The advantage of SaaS is that you can engage a vendor with specific business expertise in running data and applications from end to end.
The downside of SaaS is that it can lead to vendor lock-in. There might be issues if you want to use a different system in the future, or need to move data from the vendor’s system to your local systems.
The second option is IaaS. This allows you to access compute, storage and network resources as needed. If these resources are no longer needed, you can discontinue them and stop paying for them.
The advantage of IaaS is that you don’t have to permanently invest in local IT resources, when you may only need them for a short time. For example, during peak periods of demand, you can increase computing resources temporarily to meet the demand. When the peak ends, you can get rid of this additional capacity. IaaS provides this flexibility by letting you pay only for what you use.
The downside of IaaS is that the IT team does not have direct control over the additional IT resources. Problems can arise when applying your organization’s security and governance standards. This is a major concern for various industries, especially healthcare entities choosing healthcare data management tools. IaaS creates new risks that need to be managed, but the flexibility to expand capacity on demand can justify these risks. The third option is PaaS. It provides a virtual environment including hardware and software, allowing software developers to create and test applications before putting them into production.
The benefits of PaaS are that it can save valuable time spent configuring and installing systems for development and testing. Without PaaS, environment setup is a heavy, ongoing task, because there may be multiple development teams requiring many different environments.
By migrating to PaaS, you receive these services and resources from the PaaS provider. This not only saves time for IT, but also dramatically improves productivity for development teams.
The downside of PaaS is the security and governance barriers that must be overcome. Another risk is that new applications being developed may contain sensitive intellectual property (IP). When entering into a contract with a PaaS provider, it is very important to include a clause in the contract to protect your IP.
3 Tips for Successful Hybrid IT Management
Implementing and managing a hybrid IT environment can be difficult. The following tips can help simplify the process.
IT leaders must fully consider costs, including labor costs for cloud migration, security, disaster recovery procedures, and more. You must clearly state the terms of your contract and service level agreement (SLA) to avoid paying for services that are unavailable when you need them.
After these initial steps, you need to decide which specific services to use, what data or features to transfer, and how to migrate. Access and security policies, user training, and other organizational needs must be determined and planned in advance.
IT Data Security
To fully protect your hybrid environment, first perform a comprehensive security audit that includes how external attackers may be able to access cloud endpoints and services. Evaluate user access and permissions to make sure user accounts are defined correctly and credentials are secure, and take measures to prevent insider threats, which are more prevalent in an open cloud environment.
If the workforce is not familiar with cloud-based processes, incorporate end-user training into your IT plan. A centralized logging and monitoring solution with alerts can help to ensure that the overall configuration is safe and the steps taken are effective.
After setting up a hybrid environment, it is important to keep monitoring and managing the configuration to ensure there are no security incidents or performance issues. Determine how often your environment should be tested, and the process for remediating issues discovered in testing. Also regularly evaluate the cost of cloud resources, compare performance and usage metrics and use them to optimize service usage and pricing.
In this article, I explained the benefits of hybrid IT, how organizations can build their IT strategy, and provided three tips for improving hybrid IT adoption:
- Planning adoption carefully to ensure all organization concerns are taken into account, including security, availability, and user training
- Carrying out a security audit and protecting new cloud resources against external and internal threats
- Optimizing the cloud environment on an ongoing basis for performance and cost effectiveness
I hope this will be helpful in your organization’s journey to successful adoption of hybrid IT.