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Manage a hybrid cloud deployment with these top tips from 2016

Without an effective management strategy, IT teams can't fully realize the benefits of hybrid cloud. Learn how to tackle network bottlenecks, manage data and more with these tips.

Despite all the buzz around multicloud computing in 2017, hybrid cloud, for many enterprises, was still the endgame.

But like any IT environment, efficient management practices are crucial to get the most of a hybrid cloud deployment -- and everything from networks and connectivity to data management and storage come into play.

Before diving into the New Year, here's a look back at five of SearchCloudComputing's top tips on hybrid cloud management in 2016.

Optimize your enterprise network design for hybrid cloud

To optimize a hybrid cloud deployment, efficient network management is a must. Without it, network bottlenecks, especially within wide area networks, can occur, hampering performance and slowing data transfers between public and private clouds.

While some businesses attempt to rely on traditional internet connections to link their private cloud to a public cloud provider, bandwidth can be an issue. One option is to update your internet lines for increased speed -- but this can be pricey.

Instead, consider private networking options, such as virtual private network or a direct connection service from a public cloud provider. With a direct connection service, such as those from Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Azure, users can access a private, dedicated line that speeds the transfer of data from their own data center to the public cloud.

Managing a cloud resource pool for hybrid environments

Cloud sprawl is a common challenge for enterprise IT teams. It occurs when organizations spin up new cloud resources that they don't necessarily need, thereby driving up costs and making cloud bills, often surprisingly, high.

In a hybrid cloud deployment, controlling cloud sprawl can be especially challenging. This is because, when organizations use a mix of public and private cloud, they often treat each of those environments as a separate, unique set of resources, rather than view it as one. The result is a subdivided resource pool, which can decrease efficiency and ultimately drive up costs.

To prevent this from happening, and to save money in the long term, IT teams need to use the smallest possible number of server and VM configurations. Categorize applications by their resource requirements, and then create a minimal number of standard hosting models to meet those demands. This reduces the risk of fragmentation within the hybrid cloud resource pool.

In addition, organizations should review cloud computing contracts on an ongoing basis to identify and eliminate cloud sprawl. In most cases, it's helpful to dedicate a specific person or group to act as the cloud coordinator and take on this role.

Implementing a tiered storage architecture with hybrid cloud

A tiered storage architecture typically stores data within a primary, secondary and archived tier. The primary tier is usually the most expensive, but offers the highest performance, while the archived tier --used for infrequently accessed data -- is the least expensive and offers the lowest performance.

To create a tiered storage system within a hybrid cloud, IT teams should keep some best practices in mind. For example, it's generally best to keep the primary storage system on a private cloud, if that's where the majority of applications run, and to keep the secondary storage system on the public cloud. The primary system should be the highest-performing, and store the files and data that the applications require to run.

The secondary storage system in the public cloud is typically for active backup of the primary system, or to store older data, thereby freeing up space in the primary system. While archived storage isn't always a requirement, it is recommended. For long-term, archival data, consider options such as AWS Glacier or Google Cloud Storage Nearline.

Among other benefits, tiered storage in a hybrid cloud deployment helps organizations ensure automatic redundancy and reduces the risk of data loss. However, it's crucial to fully test the storage architecture to make sure it meets your needs.

Hybrid cloud management tools improve, but not perfect yet

The benefits of hybrid cloud deployment are clear -- increased flexibility, the ability to meet certain security or compliance requirements and application testing and development are just a few. But with these benefits come increased complexity, as IT teams strive to manage workloads between private and public clouds.

As a result, many enterprises look to evolve their cloud management toolkits to meet these hybrid challenges head-on. The problem, however, is that the hybrid cloud management tool market is still relatively new, forcing some teams to stitch together multiple tools, using APIs and other means, to meet their goals. Managing connectivity and networking between the two cloud environments also continues to be a challenge.

Fortunately, public cloud vendors increasingly realize that users want to employ a mix of their offerings. AWS and Google, for instance, have been working to evolve their management services, and Microsoft offers a set of hybrid cloud management tools with the same interfaces for public and private clouds. Another option is to evaluate third-party cloud tool vendors, such as RightScale or ScalR, to smooth the hybrid cloud management process.

Optimize hybrid cloud performance with these data management tips

Reliability and interoperability are key benefits of hybrid clouds. But without proper data management techniques, those benefits may be hard to come by.

Hybrid cloud data management techniques, such as deciding which data to keep in both private and public clouds, are critical to avoid bottlenecks and optimize performance. IT teams should also determine where to make asynchronous updates, and which in-house or primary data copies -- such as order numbers -- require synchronous updates.

To reduce traffic in a hybrid cloud deployment, consider sharding your data. To move bulk data to the public cloud -- a common challenge for IT teams -- consider the transportation of old-fashioned tape or disk. But remember, encrypting that data is a must.

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