The challenges & benefits of hybrid cloud migration

F5 Networks, Senior Engineer, Martin Walshaw (Image source: F5 Networks)
Martin Walshaw
Using the cloud does not mean settling for less security. (Image Source: F5 Networks)

A hybrid cloud environment can save businesses time and money, but there are a few hurdles that must be overcome first, says Martin Walshaw, senior engineer at F5 Networks.

In the quest to remain competitive within the market, businesses are introducing more and more innovative applications to improve processes and efficiency.  However, maintaining this progress requires companies to have full control of spending on data centres – something that is often challenging for many businesses. But the advent of hybrid cloud migration now allows companies to combine private data centres with public cloud resources to form a unique hybrid cloud environment.

By migrating applications to cloud services based on certain criteria, such as data protection policies, legal agreements and whether the application can be supported by cloud technologies, an increasing number of businesses are discovering hybrid cloud migration and the benefits that come with it. According to IDC, by 2016, over 65% of IT enterprises will be using hybrid cloud technologies, which shows the market is without doubt moving towards a hybrid cloud environment.

Hybrid challenges
Before a completely hybrid cloud is achieved, there are a few hurdles that must be overcome. Firstly, all applications transferred to the cloud will need to be supported by an array of services in order to ensure high levels of security and performance, which has both time and cost implications.

Secondly, IT organisations often use a variety of solutions from multiple vendors to support their infrastructure. Trying to condense these can prove difficult.

Finally, the idea of abandoning an on-premises solution where the level of control is high, and switching to an external cloud service provider, remains unappealing to many.

Although all these factors can be overcome, it is important that the process of hybrid cloud migration is both simple and secure for businesses, which it can be through the use of security designs capable of evolving. Examples of these approaches include the segregation of customers at the network level as well as the storage level, and ensuring appropriate protection is in place against malicious attacks.

Hybrid benefits
Arguably the major benefit of a hybrid cloud model is the accessibility it provides to on-premise infrastructure, without the need to use the public internet. With the debate over net neutrality set to rumble on and increasing levels of hacker activity online, relying solely on the internet for connectivity poses risks that are too great for most businesses to take.

Another key benefit is the ability to have on-premises IT infrastructure that can support the standard, day-to-day workload for the business, while retaining the ability to leverage the public cloud for excess demand when the workload exceeds the computational power of the private cloud environment.

The $84.64bn question
Progression towards large-scale take up of a hybrid cloud environment is definitely underway, with research conducted by MarketsandMarkets suggesting that the hybrid cloud market could grow from $25.28 billion in 2014 to a staggering $84.64 billion by 2019. This not only proves that businesses are investing heavily into hybrid cloud migration, but also that they are aware of the benefits this technology can provide.

By simplifying IT systems for organisations, as well as for the delivery of business applications, a hybrid cloud environment has the potential to save costs and time, while reducing risk. In addition, the hybrid cloud model means the building and management of multiple data centres will become a thing of the past. As a result, more time and money can be focused towards innovation and the production of high-quality applications, which in turn allows businesses to grow and remain competitive.

By Martin Walshaw, senior engineer at F5 Networks