Going Hybrid: Overcoming the Challenges in Cloud Computing

12 November 2018 | Francis Prince Thangasamy, Vice President, IT Services & Managed Hosting, Asia Pacific

Enterprises in Asia Pacific are ramping up their adoption of hybrid cloud as part of their digital transformation journey. Since hybrid cloud is a combination of on-premises, public and private clouds, it allows organizations to optimize their IT infrastructure flexibly as well as quickly respond to changes.

However, the migration can also bring about unplanned complexities. Here is how enterprises in the region can prevent the challenges associated with hybrid cloud adoption and maximize their competitive advantage.

As the lifeblood of digital businesses, data needs to move to where it is needed in order to allow organizations to quickly and easily access or analyze it for actionable insights that inform decision making. In order to do this effectively, companies need to leverage a hybrid cloud model which offers the capabilities of on-premise as well as private and public clouds.

With hybrid cloud, enterprises can handle varying workloads that fluctuate or are dynamic efficiently; these workloads can move seamlessly across environments and also scale according to business demands. Consequently, this helps to reduce capital expenditures as enterprises can rent additional capacity on-demand from a public cloud provider instead of investing in hardware.

Take the case of Sysomos for example. By adopting a hybrid cloud model, the social media analytics company can access six times the amount of compute horsepower found in their previous colocation arrangement. It also gained the ability to scale as needed, which helps ensure high availability and reliable performance of its services even during periods of high web traffic. 

Another benefit of hybrid cloud is that it can help accelerate the time to market for innovations. Enterprises can do so by keeping critical research and development activities in their private cloud and using the public cloud to test their new products and services.

Sysomos Uses Hybrid IT to Grow Social Intelligence Service

Implications of hybrid cloud 

Hybrid cloud deployments are gaining traction in Asia Pacific, with enterprises surveyed by 451 Research citing that they plan to spend 24 percent of their IT budget migrating workloads to public clouds. While the move empowers them to become agile digital businesses, it can also introduce complexities and risks into IT operations. Here are the top four challenges that might arise from adopting hybrid cloud. 

#1. As businesses grow bigger or beyond borders, so will latency issues

Although digital assets are hosted in the virtual space/cloud, the machines hosting those assets sit in the physical world. This could pose an issue to enterprises with international operations as the further the distance between those machines, the higher the likelihood of latency.

Storing data and systems in different environments may introduce latency too. A company that keeps its backend systems and APIs in its own data center while running cloud services such as cloud analytics, for instance, may face latency issues as round-tripping the APIs to the public cloud and back can slow down operations.

#2. Agility is nothing without control

As hybrid cloud contains a mix of environments, it makes it challenging for enterprises to have complete visibility of their IT infrastructure and efficiently manage it to ensure constant performance.
 

Hybrid cloud contains a mix of environments – each with different capabilities, processes and performance levels, and hosting a variety of applications and data. This makes it challenging for enterprises to have complete visibility of their IT infrastructure and efficiently manage it to ensure constant performance.

#3. Public clouds lower upfront costs but are inflexible 

Since public clouds are managed by cloud service providers, they provide enterprises with limited control and customization functionalities. To counter this shortcoming, enterprises around the world are increasing their spending on private cloud infrastructure by 26.5 percent, to reach US$3.9 billion in the first quarter of this year. However, this move puts pressure on IT teams to be able to effectively manage multi-clouds. 

#4. Security perimeters are blurring due to digital transformation 

As hybrid cloud blurs the boundary between on-premise and cloud, it is no longer sufficient for enterprises to rely on traditional network perimeter defenses to secure their business. The lack of visibility across environments also makes it challenging to configure and maintain a security policy across a hybrid network. 

Moreover, increased connectivity might cause an enterprise to be more vulnerable to cyber attacks. According to the CenturyLink 2018 Threat Report, countries with rapidly growing IT networks and infrastructure were popular targets for cybercriminal activities. In Asia Pacific, the largest victims based on DDoS attack command volume last year were China, Japan, Korea, India, and Taiwan. To make matters worse, cyber threats are on the rise. Case in point: CenturyLink Threat Research Labs shared that there were about 195,000 cyber threats impacting, on average, 104 million unique targets per day in 2017.

 

Easing hybrid cloud woes

To overcome the challenges of hybrid cloud and fully realize its benefits, enterprises should streamline and simplify cloud management. This can be achieved by leveraging a platform that provides end-to-end visibility across their environments and allows IT teams to flexibly manage their hybrid cloud through a single portal.   

Cloud security is often cited as one of the top barriers of cloud adoption, which is not surprising as the typical organization faces 23 cloud security threats every month. This calls for enterprises to take a proactive security strategy to better protect their business from threats. They can do so by using threat intelligence to proactively monitor network traffic and analyze threat data, as well as deploy multiple security measures at every level of their environment – from physical equipment to cloud to customer data.

Enterprises should also consider working with third-party providers to address the complex challenges introduced by hybrid cloud. By tapping on the knowledge and expertise of trusted managed IT partners and cloud specialists in particular, organizations will be able to choose the best execution venue and network path as well as to optimize that network path, in order to take full advantage of their hybrid cloud.  

By tapping on the knowledge and expertise of trusted managed IT partners and cloud specialists, organizations will be able to choose the best workload venue and network path as well as optimize that network path, in order to take full advantage of their hybrid cloud.
 

However, before entrusting their hybrid cloud to service providers, enterprises should ensure that their chosen partners are equipped with the necessary industry certifications, can provide access to specialized resources and are able meet with the regulatory security requirements that apply to them.

Achieving the AWS MSP partner and Microsoft Azure Expert MSP status, for instance, affirms a Managed Service Provider (MSP) ability to help organizations reliably and securely migrate, run and optimize their workloads on those public cloud platforms. Meanwhile, being certified in the Association of Banks in Singapore’s Outsourced Service Provider Audit Report (OSPAR), reassures enterprises that the MSP maintains the same level of governance, rigor and consistency as expected by the financial industry. 

One organization that has reaped hybrid cloud benefits by leveraging an MSP is Pramata. By leveraging CenturyLink’s expertise and technologies such as Cloud Application Management (CAM) and Managed Security Services (MSS), Pramata was able to build a secure hybrid cloud in just three months, instead of a year if it were to be done in-house. The move will also help the company reduce its annual operational cost by 25 percent.

As change is the only constant in this digital economy, having an agile and scalable IT infrastructure is crucial in enabling enterprises to flexibly and swiftly respond to changes in market and customer demands. Enterprises should therefore adopt hybrid cloud and mitigate its unintended consequences in order to become digital businesses of tomorrow.

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