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Checklist for hybrid cloud deployment

As part of a global IDG Connect study, Cheam Tat Inn, managing director for EMC Malaysia shared his thoughts with Data&StorageAsean on the growing interest around hybrid cloud solutions among Malaysian businesses.
 
There is an earlier misconception that a private cloud is infrastructure hosted at the organisation’s own data centre. This is in contrast to a public cloud that is hosted at a third-party service provider. The reality is that vendors do sell off-premise private clouds where there is no shared pooling of resources among various customers. Gartner’s Tom Bittman is quoted in a NetworkWorld interview as saying that a private cloud computing is defined by privacy, not location, ownership or management responsibility.
 
DSA: What is the point of on premise private cloud if the infrastructure is your own equipment in your own datacentre in your own premises? Doesn’t this “private cloud” concept mean the same thing as your own datacentre which has existed for decades?
 
Cheam: An on premise private cloud is hosted within an organisation’s own data centre. Although this form of private cloud provides a more standardised process and protection, it is however usually limited in size and scalability. Besides that, it would normally incur a higher spending on operational costs and usage of physical resources with this model.
 
However, the usage of private cloud is no longer restricted to just being on premise. Organisations have the option of having an externally hosted private cloud with a guarantee of privacy. This concept helps omit the risks associated with the sharing of physical resources.
 
DSA: Who should own the hybrid cloud initiative? And how does it cascade throughout the organisation?
 
Cheam:  The role of CIOs has changed exponentially over the years and the hybrid cloud initiative should come under their purview. Today, CIOs are in a position to really impact business outcomes. They must be able to leverage mobile and social and new technologies and services for business innovation and advantage; complete the shift to a services-based provisioning and consumption model; enable the business to put

and analytics to work and maintain security and business continuity in an extended-platform world. And, of course, manage a high-performing infrastructure at reasonable cost.
 
All those roads lead to Hybrid Cloud and with it, the high level of business agility it brings. CIOs must know that their most important role isn’t provisioning and running the computing environment, essential as those activities are. It’s to encourage and enable the business to use technology strategically. That includes both implementing the cloud strategy and formulating it in the first place. The capabilities of Hybrid Cloud create new strategic options for businesses. Hybrid Cloud should be part of the business discussion today and the business capability tomorrow. The CIO should be leading that discussion.
 
That being said it is also important that the full ecosystem, especially technology companies, take the initiative in creating awareness and partnering with businesses to make this transition seamless.
 
DSA: What can we learn from those organisations that have successfully built – and manage – hybrid clouds in Malaysia?
 
Cheam: With the deployment of Hybrid Cloud in organisations, IT has greater flexibility to determine where to run individual workloads including applications and services – in-house, with service providers, or in the public cloud. That in turn makes it much easier to “re-platform” applications by migrating them to more current and robust technology. The implementation of Hybrid Cloud also provides IT with a richer set of automated monitoring and management tools for a better integrated computing environment. With mundane tasks automated and management simplified, IT is better able to control and optimise the platform while improving infrastructure performance and cost. Hybrid Cloud also makes it easier for IT to provision and manage business services. Some services may be primarily for IT, such as the rapid and on-demand spin-up of test-and-development environments. So IT benefits as a consumer of services as well.
 
 
DSA: Cloud solutions are much more complicated than what vendor marketing brochures play them out to be. What should be the BASIC steps that all organisations interested in hybrid clouds must do (check list) to make sure that they really benefit from the technology?
 
Cheam:  Choosing the right cloud provider is an important aspect when transitioning to Hybrid Cloud. It is vital that the Cloud provider chosen is able to support your organisation from the planning stages to implementation and will be able to continue to give support as the organisation grows.
 
Understanding your organisations needs and capabilities are also essential before considering the implementation of Hybrid Cloud.
 
One mistake that businesses must avoid is being short-sighted when making their cloud investment. The decision should not just be based on today's needs and today's budget. The market place is undergoing massive transformation as we speak. As structured and unstructured data in organisations continue to grow, and with security and cost continuing to be a concern, it is important that businesses remain agile in the choices they make today.
 
Organisations should also pay extra attention to IT security as it is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to cloud adoption - we have surveys and real life conversations to prove that. I like to start the discussion with three realities:
 
·         Mobile devices, social media and big data all increase demands on security. Yet they're part of the extended environment and here to stay
·         Traditional perimeter defences must be redefined and supplemented to have any chance against the growing onslaught of cyber-intrusions. You can't build a hard shell around the enterprise when your employees and customers can be anywhere anytime
·         Securing sensitive business assets in the public cloud has turned out to be a serious pain point. You have to negotiate how to map and recreate your security apparatus to fit into an external service level agreement. It's laborious and the results have not inspired confidence.

Companies lose data and transactions in public cloud failures. Public cloud security issues have limited the business flexibility that cloud is meant to deliver.
 
Given those realities, enterprises need more attentive and adaptive approaches to security. We see Hybrid Cloud as an important part of the solution. Hybrid Cloud enables enterprises to leverage public cloud services while maintaining the trust of their customers and ensuring consistent enforcement of security policies and compliance with regulations.
 
DSA: Please list our top 3-5 BAD practices in hybrid cloud implementations.
 
Cheam:  The first step businesses should always take to avoid negative implications when transitioning to Hybrid Cloud is by choosing the right Cloud provider. As mentioned above, businesses must look for a Cloud provider that is able to support them from the planning stages to implementation and be able to continually support them as their businesses grow.
 
Being well aware of your business needs and capabilities is the next important thing to consider in order to avoid choosing the wrong Cloud model for your business. Agility and security must be the guiding factors of a cloud decision in a business of any size. Businesses must also focus on open technologies in their cloud ecosystem in order to retain choice and interoperability.
 
While the hybrid cloud model offers businesses a host of benefits, another caution to take is ensuring that the IT departments in businesses are able to adapt to today’s reality and deliver hybrid cloud in a highly user-friendly way in their organisation.
 
In this respect, the challenge for IT departments is to balance their traditional (and still essential) concerns around security, performance, economics and compliance with this need to deliver genuine agility in IT service provision, and be seen as a facilitator of business enablement. If the user experience is seamless, business users will quickly warm to it. A hybrid cloud is not, after-all, simply the co-existence of a public and a private cloud at the same business: it is the integrated management and orchestration of both types of cloud by the IT department for the benefit of the wider organisation.
 
Besides choosing the right Cloud provider, understanding a business needs and ensuring the usability of a Hybrid Cloud model, organisations should also have a planned investment for the future. As highlighted before, the decision in choosing a Hybrid Cloud model should not just be based on today's needs and today's budget. The market place will continue to progressively transform as structured and unstructured data in organisations continue to grow and security and cost continue to be a concern. Therefore it is important that businesses remain agile in the choices they make today.
 

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