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Five keys to an effective hybrid cloud migration strategy

The call to adopt a hybrid cloud strategy is persistent. Vendors suggest it, and management teams listen. So, what does it take to actually adopt the hybrid cloud approach?

With a hybrid cloud migration strategy, an organization extends its internal workloads into an environment that it does not own. Performance and features you know and expect from your own IT environment become dependent in part on an environment that is provided for you. The hybrid arrangement works -- but you need to properly prepare for it and avoid certain pitfalls.

These five hybrid cloud strategies will set you on the right path.

1. Determine if an app is hybrid-cloud ready

With hybrid cloud strategies, an application must function in both an on-premises environment and on resources rented from a service provider such as AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud. The first necessary step, which is often overlooked, is to determine if the application in question is suitable for the hybrid model.

Be careful, and don't assume too much. Just because a vendor runs the application in a cloud doesn't mean it's hybrid-cloud ready. It's less complicated to host the application in one environment or another than to bridge two environments.

A legacy application that is not ready for hybrid cloud migration can still be successfully adapted if planned properly, without appearing like a Frankenstein concoction. Ideally, pieces of the application that can exist behind load balancers move into the cloud. Examine application tracking to see traffic communications; this will give you a sense of how much data is shared and how potential lag time might affect application performance.

Key differences between private cloud, hybrid cloud and public cloud
Hybrid cloud migration involves the mixing of private and public cloud resources.

2. Shift the right pieces of an application

Many applications consist of multiple parts, so you have a lot of possible decisions to make. Often the first consideration is to determine what can be moved quickly to the cloud.

Carefully consider on-demand or cloud bursting capabilities. Unless you'll pay to keep dormant workloads waiting to start on public cloud servers, look at automation to spin these workloads up and down quickly. Workloads that require excessive customization or large amounts of data storage might not be a good fit for a hybrid cloud migration strategy -- especially if cost savings is one of your cloud adoption goals.

Time is a constant factor to consider. Automation helps to create workloads, and it removes manual effort. Even so, complete and ready-to-go resources don't simply appear instantly; you wait for them to build, which can take seconds or hours. A slow-building workload can be costly because the cloud provider bills you for that setup time, before the workload itself runs.

Any parts of an application that you decide to move and leave in the cloud will cost money, even if these pieces are seldom used. This can be a big concern if an application is not ready for the hybrid model, such as when it requires additional frameworks to support it. With any cloud adoption, remember that additional resources increase your costs.

3. Don't overlook storage

Size also is a key consideration in hybrid cloud strategies. Cloud storage is a type of expense that grows slowly, so it is easy to go unnoticed if you don't pay close attention.

Cloud storage costs won't break the bank initially, but they accumulate steadily over time. Take advantage of cloud storage tiers for archiving.

4. Check the network

When an organization moves part of a workload to the cloud, it might introduce lag between its data center and the cloud provider. Such a delay can affect application performance and customer experience.

Your internet service is the lifeline that keeps your application running properly. Network lag between components of multipart applications must be addressed. Determine where the delay stems from -- it might be the quality of your connection to the cloud, rather than anything specific to the cloud service provider.

5. Track the metrics

The success of a hybrid cloud migration strategy will be revealed in the metrics. Performance statistics and response times are valuable, but they mean little if your hybrid approach costs you three to four times the amount you would have spent for a purely on-premises setup. When an organization spends too much, its cloud strategy isn't cost-effective, and from that perspective it could be considered a failure.

Get a clear picture of your organization's hybrid cloud migration strategy by looking at data from a variety of aspects. Think about everything from performance data to customer engagement to help desk responses. For example, a shift to hybrid cloud might cost the organization more money -- but if your help desk calls drop by 30%, the overall cost-benefit analysis might be favorable.

The challenge is the comparison of data points that come from different sources, which can be difficult to correlate. That effort can really pay off, though, because you'll be able to evaluate how your hybrid initiative is going and where you might adjust your workloads. You most likely will not get it right at first, so think of it as a process. Make the adjustments to match metrics to your specific business needs and cloud goals.

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