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November 3, 2021 | Matt Pacheco

The Cloud’s Importance in a Hybrid IT Strategy

The cloud has evolved greatly over the past few years. Businesses are leveraging a wide range of cloud services to meet customer needs and achieve digital transformation goals. The result is that most organizations combine a variety of cloud and non-cloud systems into hybrid IT environments. 

In fact, nearly three-quarters of organizations have implemented or are planning to implement a hybrid IT environment, according to 451 Research. 

How the cloud and the hybrid IT model are evolving is the topic of TierPoint’s webinar, Why Hybrid IT Environments are a must in 2022 and Beyond, moderated by TierPoint’s senior director of product research Dave McKenny. 

McKenny, along with Tara Kovaleski, a TierPoint solution architect, and Bryan O’Neal, director of product management for cloud solutions at TierPoint, shared their insights into the challenges in hybrid IT and what enterprise customers are looking for in cloud services. 

Priorities for enterprise cloud customers

Flexibility is a top priority of enterprise customers, they noted. 

“Enterprises are looking for solutions that combine some type of multi-tenant, public, SaaS [software-as-a-service], as well as dedicated and private solutions,” said Kovaleski. 

She noted that customers frequently need greater flexibility with their hybrid environments to meet a growing range of IT and business needs. 

“Different applications fit better in different environments. A very static type of application might fit better in a private, dedicated environment, whereas a dynamic, fluid application works well in the cloud,” she said. 

What is hybrid IT?

Traditionally, a hybrid IT environment might include public cloud services, often from multiple cloud providers, along with non-cloud on-premises infrastructure or co-located systems, and a hosted or on-premises private cloud. Different environments serve the different needs of the applications and the organization. 

The public cloud uses a multitenant cloud platform so that cloud resources are pooled and shared across multiple customers. A multitenant structure optimizes the usage of resources improves the cost-effectiveness for customers. The public cloud is also well suited for dynamic or highly distributed applications, however, the shared infrastructure can occasionally cause performance issues. 

Alternatively, private clouds provide a single-tenant platform dedicated to one customer. Private clouds give more control to the customer, who is also responsible for the full cost and maintenance of the infrastructure. Customers with higher performance requirements or who must meet stringent data privacy and security laws often prefer a dedicated cloud infrastructure. 

However, private and public are no longer the only types of cloud. The development of new cloud models and technologies provides more options for IT organizations seeking to move applications to the cloud and achieve greater flexibility with a multicloud or hybrid infrastructure. 

Cloud innovation driving hybrid cloud environment flexibility

In the webcast, O’Neal, McKinney, and Kovaleski highlighted four developments in cloud computing that provide greater flexibility in hybrid environments. 

Edge computing maximizes performance

For example, edge computing is a new model in cloud computing for moving content and data closer to the end-users and applications that need it. Media companies, for example, move video and other content to edge cloud locations closest to different geographical markets to reduce latency and use less bandwidth. 

IT organizations are leveraging edge computing in a variety of use cases, not just for media and video content. For example, companies can use the edge model to create local networks of smart devices in offices or create ecommerce systems specific to different international markets. 

“The edge is a key part of an organization’s success in expanding globally,” noted O’Neal. 

Public and private clouds merge

Major cloud providers such as Amazon and Google now offer software and services for creating public cloud infrastructure within their own data centers. Solutions such as VMWare’s vSphere, Amazon’s AWS Outpost, and Microsoft’s Azure Stack are examples of software aimed at bringing the advantages of the multi-tenant public cloud model to on-premises data centers. Azure Stack is a portfolio of products that extend Azure services and capabilities to other environments, such as a private data center, edge locations, or remote branch offices. 

“A statistic from Gartner predicts that, by 2023, more than 10% of large enterprises will be using on-premises public cloud infrastructures within their own private data centers,” said McKinney. “That’s up from less than 1% in 2019.” 

Similarly, TierPoint has a multitenant hosted private cloud that gives customers the security and performance of dedicated infrastructure but a multitenant structure to share IT resources (and costs) across a customer’s enterprise. 

Cloud expands to hardware

A growing percentage of IT shops are purchasing new technology through subscriptions, rather than making large investments in new hardware. 

“The subscription model is appealing for hardware as you don’t have to make a large capital purchase at the start of your five-year plan,” said Kovaleski. “Instead, you can focus on a much shorter window, and expand your hardware as needed.”

There are several options. The first cloud model to address hardware was the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) model. IaaS provides access to a provider’s cloud-based infrastructure resources like storage and computing. However, IaaS is a packaged service that limits a customer’s control over the hardware. 

Bare metal cloud services is another hardware services model that caters to customers who want a dedicated infrastructure they alone control. Bare-metal cloud services provide dedicated hardware resources via subscription. As the term implies, bare-metal hardware services come without any installed operating systems or virtualization infrastructure. Bare metal subscriptions spare customers the burden of maintaining and replacing old hardware. 

The rise of software-defined infrastructure—software-defined networking, storage, etc.—provides even more flexibility in selecting and configuring hardware. A software-defined infrastructure, whether in the cloud or at an on-premises data center, is a virtual infrastructure with compute, storage, networking, and other infrastructure elements. 

More workloads made for the cloud

Several factors are increasing the range of workloads that can run in the cloud. For starters, the pandemic created a huge demand for online work applications that could be quickly implemented and easily scaled. Online collaboration tools, video conferencing, and virtual desktops became ubiquitous. 

Rising ransomware and other cyber-attacks, as well as concern over climate disasters–such as the fires in California—have driven up demand for cloud-based storage and disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS). Also, more developers are creating cloud-native applications as well as cloud-enabling legacy applications. There are fewer IT systems that can’t operate on cloud infrastructure, whether public or private. 

“There are many more workloads today that are no-brainer candidates for the cloud, whether they’re software-as-a-service or mission-critical workloads,” said O’Neal. “This is a wake-up call to customers who’ve been entrenched in the on-premises world that there are many benefits to the cloud delivery model.” 

Learn more about hybrid IT

You can listen to the entire webinar here to learn more about what’s trending in today’s hybrid IT world and how the cloud can help you achieve your hybrid IT goals. 

Why Hybrid IT Environments are a Must in 2022 and Beyond_Webinar

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