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The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and the Hybrid Cloud

To benefit from the advantages of a hybrid cloud, the integration into the IT landscape should be well planned

April 22 2020Martin Holzinger

Using public-cloud resources for successful business

Moving to the multi-cloud is easy. And the larger the company, the faster you can get there. I feel somewhat reminded of old Goethe and his Sorcerer’s Apprentice: ‘Gone for once the old magician, with his countenance forbidding ... all his ghosts must do my bidding.’ Business units obviously use public-cloud resources to achieve their business goals.

Challenges in the public-cloud

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These days, the initiated, who are the ones facing the ‘cloud sprawl’, have called this ‘shadow IT’. This also works well. Otherwise the managers wouldn’t have opted for this ‘shortcut’ on their business journey. But after a while the ‘new services’ have to be dovetailed with the existing ones. How, for example, do the leads generated using a public-cloud tool get into the CRM database or internal reporting systems? And can the Sales department have full faith in the fact that the (personal) data generated will also be handled in accordance with the GDPR? Hopefully the data isn’t stored with an American service provider? Pitfalls abound …

Multi-clouds need a strategy

‘Fool unwitty, stop your going! Overflowing are the dishes. I forgot the charm; what a pity! Now my words are empty.’ Unfortunately, the magic wand that could clear away all these types of problems in seconds is yet to be invented. Once the cloud services are up and running, it’s virtually impossible to go back. 

Whether wanted or not, a multi-cloud strategy needs planning and care – and not just for compliance and security requirements. In addition to compliance and security, it is typically also matters such as cost control, provider management, and the incompatibility of existing tools for the extensive task of managing the multi-cloud that keep IT managers awake at night. 

Hybrid clouds – deliberate and integrated

Companies wanting to implement hybrid scenarios have even more to worry about. One of the main differences between the multi-cloud and hybrid cloud is that there is no such thing as ‘unwanted’ when it comes to hybrid clouds. The necessary integration involved means hybrid clouds always have to be planned. They don’t just fall out of the multi-cloud sky. First and foremost, this includes a suitable use case in which a hybrid setup offers clear strengths. These could be cost advantages or increased flexibility.

Hybrid clouds for cloud bursting

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Hybrid clouds are often recommended for cloud bursting. If, during simulations, for example, a private cloud’s resources do not suffice for promptly achieving the desired outcomes, part of the workload may be moved to the public cloud. Even if this is just a temporary measure, the course for the integrated interplay between private and public cloud must still be set beforehand. Specifically speaking, this means that the simulation software is rolled out in the public cloud at the press of a button (or, better still, automatically based on threshold policies). At the same time, the application itself needs to be able to support the simultaneous processing. A job scheduler that distributes the workloads accordingly is also required. At the end of the processing, it must be possible to combine the (partial) outcomes achieved to form one overall result.

The easiest way to ensure something like this is of course having the public and private clouds based on the same technology. But when is that ever the case? The private cloud and public cloud are generally based on different technologies. Given the fact that a different operating system can sometimes have dramatic effects on this kind of ‘collaboration’ (or, more accurately: non-collaboration), it becomes clear that hybrid clouds require considerable technical expertise. And there’s another aspect that also needs to be taken into account in temporary scenarios: The agility of public clouds. Updating or adjusting APIs (or even switching them off entirely) can mean a wonderful hybrid-cloud showcase project soon becomes history. Or generates additional expense.

Keeping an eye on challenges

Continuous use of hybrid clouds, for example because of the aforementioned compliance regulations, also requires provisions to be made for full system scalability. So, if the front end of a webshop in a cloud automatically scales up, it means the systems in the private-cloud back end also need to scale along with it in order to discourage sales drop-outs. Fulfilling compliance requirements as per the GDPR? That’s not a good justification for a poor user experience. 

The multi-cloud world needs solutions for management, security and cost control. And the hybrid cloud also needs integration expertise – in addition to the skills required of user companies for the various clouds. In view of the many pitfalls associated with multi/hybrid-cloud use, it may sometimes be wise, from a business perspective, to opt for a managed service and thus reduce stress levels. Not everyone can be a sorcerer.  But you might find some basic spells in our white paper about future cloud infrastructure.

Actively shaping the multi-cloud

The Future Cloud Infrastructure enables future-oriented multi-cloud management that helps you keep compliance and costs under control. You can read exactly how this works in our white paper.

About the author

Martin Holzinger

Head of Business Development & International Consulting, T-Systems International GmbH

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