The Rise of the Hybrid Cloud: Best Practices for IT Teams to Manage Today’s Increasing Network Complexity

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Today’s increasing agile business environment beckons the call of a cloud infrastructure, which is not surprising for the modern enterprise. I’ve worked with many different organizations’ stakeholders over the years and the one thing they all have in common is the struggle they face with increasing IT complexity forcing their teams to do more with less. Transferring workloads to the cloud in order to free up or discard costly on-premise resources for the fast deployment and flexibility of an elastic environment has overwhelming appeal for these IT teams.

While cloud infrastructure offers these key incentives, many enterprises hesitate to entirely replace their legacy systems for the simple reason on-premise IT infrastructure ensures greater compliance, availability and security that some of the most data-sensitive industries must uphold (e.g., HIPAA, PCI and SOX). Take a quick read of Google’s Terms of Service or Amazon EC2’s SLA Exclusions and you’ll see examples of how cloud platform vendors limit their governance and control responsibility.

But just because cloud services have limited compliance and regulatory guidelines, does not mean that they can’t, or shouldn’t, be an excellent extension of an enterprise’s existing infrastructure to help their employees and IT teams simply “get the job done” in a timely and cost-effective manner. In fact, for any business wanting to succeed in today’s fast-paced digital economy, a hybrid cloud networking approach is the only way for enterprises to stay relevant to their customers and partners, and compete with industry newcomers for years to come.

A hybrid cloud approach gives enterprises with sensitive data the best of both worlds – confidential information stored on-premise securely and compliantly along with the ability to store encrypted or less sensitive data in the cloud with no concerns about scalability, deployment, and maintenance. IT teams clearly already welcome this approach as evidenced by the hybrid cloud industry growing at a compound rate of 27 percent – but while this certainly shows promise for the future of the hybrid cloud, software management vendors and partners who are moving toward this “bridge strategy” need to provide their customers with more than just an IT-approval rating as reason to support the network’s evolution as they merge both cloud and on-premise resources.

Read more: Is Hybrid Cloud the Future of Enterprise IT?

Take the healthcare industry, as example. Healthcare organizations have been hesitant to relinquish any perceived control over their information, and yet the investments and resources required to securely store and manage files on-premise has become a burden most facilities can no longer shoulder. IT teams lack the bandwidth and expertise to manage the growing volume and traffic of Protected Health Information (PHI). A hybrid cloud solution, on the other hand, is the perfect answer to this dilemma – it provides significant value for the healthcare industry, providing organizations with industrial-grade security and control through on-premise networks, while the accompanied cloud-based solution of choice reduces the time and resources needed to achieve and maintain HIPAA compliance by freeing up IT staff to focus on other operational tasks.

Another example still is the payment card industry, which has a broad reach – many retailers and other companies are increasingly doing business with their customers that require some form of digital transaction to take place. Due to exponential increases in data and increasingly stringent compliance regulations, it’s almost certain internal teams at these companies don’t possess the bandwidth, expertise, or patience required to maintain a secure environment. A hybrid cloud approach can alleviate the pressures these companies now face with this new daunting reality – security and compliance does not have to be forsaken for the lure of simple and affordable business operations.

It’s not just the healthcare or payment card data industries that can take advantage of the hybrid cloud. Any company that wants to help their employees and IT teams work more efficiently and cost-effectively, but not forsake security for fast and easy processes, will fall in love with the hybrid cloud approach. But despite the many advantages the hybrid cloud has to offer, there are still pitfalls that enterprises need to navigate in order to ensure a positive engagement and user experience with this hybrid approach. If your organization is making the shift to the hybrid cloud (or considering it) to manage business processes, here are a few “best practices” to keep in mind for driving optimal performance:

  • Understand the business problem you’re trying to solve and what you’re trying to achieve. This isn’t a new concept, but this will help you identify weak links in your internal management processes and understand where you need a partner.
  • Find the right partner. Invest in partners that help you secure processes without the problem growing beyond your ability to handle it. Ensure your partner is well-equipped to manage the breadth of various regulation requirements, and able to provide you with the tools you need to show compliance to your auditors. It’s important that no component of what you choose to solve the business problem becomes the weak link.
  • Don’t trust anyone who says they’ll secure an entire business process for you. Security is complex, and the right partners will secure various components of your processes – not everything.

While these “best practices” are a good starting point, IT teams still need to learn how to effectively manage complex hybrid cloud environments once deployed with limited time and resources. Any organization seriously invested in a hybrid cloud approach should learn how to:

  • Efficiently monitor and manage infrastructure, applications and network.
  • Ensure security and compliance of critical assets, especially when they are most vulnerable (e.g., cloud transactions).
  • Control today’s complex IT environment to offer best-in-class services that allow your team to be perceived as proactive IT “champions” keeping the infrastructure operating smoothly at all times, instead of being viewed as only problem solvers when things go wrong.

A hybrid cloud approach can transform organizations if they are managed correctly, but it takes due diligence to ensure that the move goes as planned. By doing research ahead of time and developing a list of key business considerations, enterprises can ensure that the process will be both smooth and successful, and that their customers will love the security and compliance that haven’t gone overlooked through the appeal of simplicity and affordability.

About the Author

joeJoe Krivickas brings more than 30 years of experience in building and leading high-velocity software companies with an emphasis on developing and sustaining a strong culture. At Ipswitch, Krivickas sets the corporate strategy and drives the company’s vision across functions.

He is a veteran information technology industry president and CEO who has led several leading organizations through different phases of growth and ultimately acquisition including: the sale of Bluestone Software (NASDAQ: BLSW) to HP (NYSE: HPQ), the sale of Segue Software (NASDAQ: SEGU) to Borland (NASDAQ: BORL) and the sale of FAST (Oslo BORS: FAST) to Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT).

Most recently, Krivickas served as the CEO of SmartBear Software where he led the company in becoming the world’s largest volume supplier of testing tools with more than one million users. Under his leadership, the firm was selected as Glassdoor’s #2 Best Place to Work for Medium Sized Businesses in the country and received the Boston Globe’s 2013 Best Place to Work Award.

He served as an officer in the Army National Guard’s reconnaissance infantry and holds a BS in electronics engineering from the University of Scranton and an MBA in entrepreneurial management from the Wharton School of Business.

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