Hybrid-cloud management requires new tools, skills

Organizations are turning to hybrid cloud technology for greater agility, security, compliance and other benefits. Now they face the challenge of making everything work together seamlessly.

staffing the hybrid cloud 2 public private cloud clouds
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Hybrid cloud environments can deliver an array of benefits, but in many enterprises, they're becoming increasingly complex and difficult to manage. To cope, adopters typically turn to some type of management software. What soon becomes apparent, however, is that hybrid cloud management tools can be as complex and confounding as the environments they're designed to support.

A hybrid cloud typically includes a mix of computing, storage and other services. The environment is formed by a combination of on-premises infrastructure resources, private cloud services, and one or more public cloud offerings, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure, as well as orchestration among the various platforms.

Any organization contemplating a hybrid cloud deployment should begin building a transition framework at the earliest possible stage. "The biggest decision is what data and which applications should be on-premises due to the sensitivity of data, and what goes into the cloud," says Umesh Padval, a partner at venture capital firm Thomvest Ventures.

Numerous other issues also need to be sorted out at the start, including the ultimate destination of lower priority, yet still critical, data and applications. Will they be kept on premises forever or migrated at some point into the cloud? With applications and data scattered, security is another major concern. Operational factors and costs also need to be addressed at the very beginning. "Your email application may run great in your data center, but may operate differently in the cloud," Padval notes.

Hybrid cloud tools immature yet evolving

A complex hybrid cloud requires constant oversight as well as a way to intuitively and effectively manage an array of operations, including network performance, workload management, security and cost control. Not surprisingly, given the large number of management tasks needed to run an efficient and reliable hybrid cloud environment, adopters can select from a rapidly growing array of management tools.

"There’s a dizzying array of options from vendors, and it can be difficult to sort through them all," says R. Leigh Henning, principal network architect for data center operator Markley Group. "Vendors don’t always do the best job at making their differentiators clear, and a lot of time and effort is wasted as a result of this confusion. Companies are getting bogged down in an opaque field of choices."

The current hybrid cloud management market is both immature and evolving, declares Paul Miller, vice president of hybrid cloud at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Vendors are still getting a handle on the types of management tools their customers need. "Offerings are limited and may not be supported across all public, on-premises and edges," Miller adds.

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