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What should I include on my hybrid cloud roadmap?

Given how rapidly IT evolves, it's tough to shape a long-term cloud strategy. So how can I build a hybrid cloud roadmap that lasts?

In the constantly evolving IT world, needs are rarely static; there's inevitable growth and change over time. To keep pace with ever-changing IT needs and mitigate growing pains, hybrid cloud offers flexibility and scale. But business and IT leaders still need a cloud roadmap that outlines future needs and goals. While predicting an organization's IT future is never easy, it's critical with hybrid cloud.

Consider how future growth will impact hybrid cloud deployment. For example, mergers and acquisitions put enormous stress on any IT infrastructure. Don't just assume public cloud absorbs all growth, or budget monthly OPEX to handle extra IT burdens. Some new applications and data stores may remain in the private cloud, which requires capital for on-premises expansion. If your business is planning major expansion or acquisitions, consider how private and public cloud will absorb more employees and customers -- and how that will impact costs.

Also, consider the potential for contingencies. Public cloud providers are effectively business partners, but most business relationships are finite. The provider may go out of business, fail to uphold its SLA or lose you to a better deal. It's important to understand what's involved in a cloud migration -- either migrating public cloud workloads to another provider or bringing them back on-premises. And make sure there's a plan in place to do it. Some businesses cultivate relationships with multiple public cloud providers just to have contingencies available.

Finally, consider the future impact of new industry or government regulations. Rules such as HIPAA and PCI DSS profoundly impact corporate data storage and security. Perfectly acceptable cloud deployments today may not be compliant when regulations are introduced or updated. Your hybrid cloud should stand up to any future compliance audit.

Hybrid clouds are dynamic IT entities that can be challenging to deploy and manage. Planning for the future helps mitigate oversights that can cripple a hybrid cloud initiative.

Stephen J. Bigelow is the senior technology editor of the Data Center and Virtualization Media Group. He can be reached at [email protected].

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