By Christian Lappin, TierPoint Sr. Sales Engineer
Cloud, cloud, cloud. It’s in the news everywhere.
Here at TierPoint, we deal in deploying practical cloud solutions that meet the needs of businesses, hospitals, universities and financial firms. Talk about mission-critical infrastructure; our clients simply can’t be mired in bureaucracy or placed in rigid frameworks and be successful in meeting their goals. Increasingly the solution to mission-critical infrastructure lies in the hybrid cloud, a blend of cloud platforms and services custom tailored to meet specific performance, security, and regulatory benchmarks.
If you’re a CTO or Director of IT looking to transition your infrastructure to a more elastic and scalable model, chances are you’ve bumped into hybrid cloud in the marketplace. You’ve scouted the benefits (reduction in capital expenditures, higher degrees of flexibility) but questions may still remain. Here’s a guide to what I see as the top five criteria when putting together your hybrid cloud solution plan:
Security always needs to be at the top of the list. When it comes to protecting the data of your customers, users and internal workforce, cloud is not the problem, it’s the solution.
A few years ago, security was the boogeyman in the cloud world. As more businesses and technology decision makers began to see the compelling benefits of cloud platforms, security solutions have quickly adapted. Using technology like VPN, NAT, DDoS Mitigation and Attack Detection, cloud systems provisioned with security in mind offer robust data protection for you and your end users. Furthermore, cloud platforms can be customized to meet industry specific regulations and compliance, including PCI DSS, HIPAA, GLBA, SOX and more.
Security can’t be an afterthought or a last minute add-on. Be sure to address your unique security concerns at the onset of designing your hybrid cloud. It will save numerous headaches (and possibly a few jobs!) down the road.
2. High Availability
What good is your nimble, fast and scalable cloud if you can’t access it? No good at all. Availability goes hand-and-hand with security as a chief concern when standing up your hybrid cloud.
When migrating core production applications and resources to a new cloud environment, it’s vitally important that underlying infrastructure is up to the task of supporting these mission-critical systems. Be sure to ask fully investigate power, cooling, and other key operational components to make sure your cloud is backed by the redundancies you need to stay in business.
Server rooms in the basement likely won’t cut it as a logistical home for your cloud. Seek colocation partners and verify they hold SSAE-16 SOC 2 certifications and are located safely away from floodplains and urban threat zones. Also consider the capital investment required to back your cloud with in-house generators, power feeds and distribution systems, let alone the staff needed to maintain such equipment. Do you have the available resources to be in the infrastructure business?
If the answer is no, seek a colocation partner with expertise in hosting private and hybrid cloud architecture. Ask to see their generators, their power systems, and other key components.
Massive public cloud vendors such as Amazon and Microsoft offer a lot of seemingly quick solutions to complex problems. However, there is a “lock-in” factor to be aware of. With critical systems on the line, it’s important to make sure all options are available at all times. There’s nothing worse in technology than the dreaded vendor lock down, and it’s no different with hybrid cloud.
The key word is hybrid. The ability to mix and match platforms and services to deliver a solution that works efficiently is what hybrid cloud adoption is all about. By signing with rigid providers with one-size-fits-all approaches, the benefits of the hybrid cloud greatly diminish. Make sure your hybrid cloud is created in such a way that it can be put to work for you dynamically, today and tomorrow.
4. Carrier Neutrality
Yes, the network still matters. Data circuits form the connective highways that bring users and the hybrid cloud together. Clear access paths and multiple points of entry will significantly improve access and end-user experience when utilizing the applications and resources hosted on your hybrid cloud. All roads lead to the cloud, and the network is the roadway.
Housing your cloud infrastructure in a carrier neutral environment ensures that you’ll have plenty of roads open to reach your vital systems. Carrier neutral facilities also provide exponentially more options for cross-connecting hosted infrastructure with multi-site offices, branch locations, and even other data centers.
5. Managed Services
So you’ve followed items 1-4 and have architected a hybrid cloud system that meets your security needs, is housed in a highly-available environment, provides flexible technology options, and is able to connect to multiple high-speed networks. What’s missing? A Managed Services plan.
Often overlooked, services are a key element in making sure your hybrid cloud is running at optimal performance. If a blade chasis fails at 3 a.m., who has your back? Do you have staff on-call 24×7? If a disk burns out, can you be available to replace it in an acceptable amount of time? If hackers are trying to breach your security and grab data, are you monitoring and checking logs?
Make the Cloud Work for You
Hybrid cloud provides incredible benefits for those responsible for managing enterprise IT systems. By addressing the key concerns of security, availability, flexibility, carrier neutrality, and managed services requirements, you can be sure to set your hybrid cloud on the rails of success.
As always, if you have any questions about hybrid cloud solutions, please contact the TierPoint team. We’re happy to help demystify any concerns around making cloud computing work for your organization.