The primary focus of enterprise IT strategy today is on the user experience, and keeping IT operational 24/7, rather than on network infrastructure components such as compute resource, storage, LAN/WAN connectivity and UC.
Hybrid IT, bringing together Cloud, on-premises and colocation, can be a powerful tool in delivering an excellent, dependable user experience. Exploiting a range of data centre, connectivity and public/private Cloud computing innovations, Hybrid IT allows IT services to be delivered when and where they’re needed, as well as offering the flexibility needed to keep pace with rapidly changing business needs.
In creating a successful Hybrid IT strategy, a number of issues must be considered;
Choose Your Cloud
The benefits of Cloud are clear. Cloud gives access to enterprise technologies with benefits such as improved resilience, reliability and security, without the up front or in-life investment costs. Many companies want to focus budget on other projects, making this very appealing. However, Cloud services vary – selecting the right services from the right providers is critically important.
Leverage Your Legacy
Equally important is to take into account investments already made in legacy on-premises technology, considering how these may be re-purposed for future needs. In our experience, utilising these assets as part of a Hybrid IT strategy can reduce project costs by some 20-30%.
Integrate Your Systems
Weak integration of applications with core back end systems is a key driver of poor user experience, and the frustration, poor productivity, inefficiency and other malaises that go with it.
It is therefore important to put in place, criteria to help IT decide how to deploy each workload, so as to capitalise most effectively on the varying service capabilities and price/performance trade-offs of diverse on-premises, cloud and colocation deployment options. Here are seven key issues we advise our clients to consider, for each application.
Price and ROI
Look beyond the initial costs. Deploying applications in the wrong environment can prove a costly mistake if costs aren’t future proofed. For example, consider the many references in the press about the deployment of applications in hyperscalers driving spiralling costs. Identify hidden costs and examine the small print carefully. Be wary of organisations that seek to tie you in because this will expose you to future price rises.
Security and Access Control
Once an application is live, consider how you will ensure users can connect to it securely. Our clients typically prefer to use Private Cloud, on-premises or colocation for internal, business-critical systems, while customer facing applications can often reside in the Public Cloud.
Where is your data? How is it stored and accessed? Which deployment model will ensure you comply with regulations?
What support will be required to manage and monitor each application? Consider what skills you will keep in-house and what would be better outsourced. Attitudes and approaches in this arena vary widely, with individual company culture a key factor, so, while taking expert advice, make these decisions on your own terms.
Retain the level of control you need by putting your support in the right place. Be ready to change it as required, as your business, environment and technology evolve.
Be careful to avoid your support partner being seen as a threat: they should operate as an extension to your existing IT team, filling resource gaps rather than replacing people. For example, partners should deliver skills that your team lack such as specialists tasks that you carry out infrequently and need costly, highly accredited engineers, or tasks that you don’t need to operate in-house such as 24/7 monitoring.
When deploying any application, consider how it should integrate with other existing or planned applications. Some Public Clouds may not provide the integration you need; in such cases Private Cloud would be the most suitable option.
Take into account your existing infrastructure investments. For many organisations, existing resources can play an essential part in the execution of future plans. Leverage your current assets on the balance sheet by looking at how they can be upgraded or re-utilised.
Don’t overlook Colocation
Colocation may be an attractive option if you have a strategy in place to move services and resources off premises, but have IT assets that can continue to deliver value. Typically, this is used by our clients who want to free up real estate space, or don’t want to be contractually tied in to specific facilities.
Every application has its optimal location and our clients often use a blend of Colocation and Public/Private Cloud services. This will differ not only from application to application, but, for any given application, also from company to company. Furthermore, the ideal place for each application may change over time.
The secret to successfully delivering the desired user experience and best return on investment is a Hybrid IT strategy delivering the necessary choice and flexibility, while remaining as simple as possible, so that it can be swiftly adapted and scaled to address future needs.
Key to this is working with a service provider who can manage each deployment type for you, and provide genuinely agnostic advice on the pros and cons for each application; on-premises, Public Cloud, Private Cloud and colocation. It’s essential that you’re confident in the advice you receive and that you work with a partner who can move your workloads between Cloud services as and when you require.
For an informal chat about what’s best for your organisation, get in touch – call us on 01582 429 999 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can find out more about Hybrid IT here.
About the author
Mark Collins, CEO
Chief Executive of ONI, Mark is on a mission to transform the business from a leading systems integrator into one of the best Cloud and Managed Service providers in the UK.
Mark is driven by two core principles – total quality management and customer service excellence. He believes in adding value to the customer at every opportunity and helping them navigate the ever-changing world of IT and communications.