Damian-SkendrovicDamian Skendrovic, CEO of the newly formed Managed Services subsidiary of NTT Communications (NTT Com), suggests how companies are best to build and maintain a hybrid IT environment…

Many enterprises believe that to get the best value from IT and achieve their digital goals they need to utilize new delivery models in the cloud, whilst preserving the investment they have made in legacy systems. Gutting IT infrastructure and re-building anew just isn’t an option – it is a case of incorporating legacy systems into a hybrid cloud strategy.

Hybrid IT is an essential ingredient for enterprises looking to respond to market changes as they go through their digital transformation. The strategy enables companies to move some processes, services or applications from the private to the public cloud, on-premises and off-premises and behind firewalls. It gives IT departments the flexibility to work out what works best for the business in order to optimize performance, improve agility and cost-effectiveness, and ensure continuity.

Like all major IT projects, managing a hybrid cloud environment comprised of heterogeneous on-premises, private and public cloud hybrid resources is a challenge, but what is required is quite simply complete control and visibility.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are invaluable here. Many businesses have relationships with several MSPs. Given the need for most companies to speed up the adoption of hybrid to get ahead of the digital curve, MSPs are an obvious port of call. In addition, many enterprises looking to change are working with limited development and IT team resources.

The integration, security and process in hybrid IT need careful management to be able to work to its optimum potential. This is where an MSP can add value in managing this diverse but blended environment, leaving enterprises to utilize their precious resources on business priorities, and not just keeping the lights on.

Role of APIs

At present, the IT vista is a disparate one, in the middle of great change. Companies are running intricate software structures; it is estimated that the average company is running around 20 Software as a Service (SaaS) apps, as well as further apps on premises. Data is stored in different locations in different formats, further muddying the waters.

Enterprises have started to adopt APIs for integration. They provide a new and innovative way for organizations to link systems together and build new applications on top of existing data, saving time and protecting investment.

It is vital to carefully address security during hybrid cloud planning

There are, however, many ways to integrate an infrastructure in the Cloud API model. There are four areas where cloud computing will need to integrate with another platform: Platform as a Service APIs, Software as a Service APIs, Infrastructure as a Service APIs and cross-platform APIs. It is essential to choose the right API platform for your business. In saying this, you may need a mix of API models to get the best performance from your infrastructure.

The ability to integrate platforms and applications by using APIs is a growing trend in the hybrid arena. It is a sophisticated issue and if you don’t understand it, it is advisable to get professional consultancy.

Managing priorities and risk

Building, controlling and sustaining an effective hybrid IT estate while meeting business demands and end-user expectations is a herculean task. There are key considerations you need to look at before making the move to hybrid.

Businesses must consider that on-premises, hosted, cloud services, IoT and bimodal IT by their very nature create an intricate mix of legacy systems and new IT that needs to be managed effectively. Managing and monitoring systems across multiple providers and networks is also a major challenge.

You need to make sure that both the public and private cloud are compliant – and also that compliance exists between both

Additionally, cloud security typically tops enterprises’ worry lists. It is vital to carefully address security during hybrid cloud planning. This should include tools and policies to check back in the event of unauthorized data access, data leakage or a security breach.

Latency is a further pain point for hybrid IT if the infrastructure isn’t built properly from the onset. So too is interoperability, which can be a problem if applications don’t seamlessly integrate across the hybrid solution.

Companies must hold tight control over their data and be safe in the knowledge that you have the same level of control over data stored in the cloud as on-premises.

A hybrid IT environment of both public and private cloud brings many benefits, but it still has security hurdles to face. Both maintaining and demonstrating compliance can be an issue. You need to make sure that both the public and private cloud are compliant – and also that compliance exists between both.

Existing security controls, including authentication, authorization and identity management will need to work in both private and public clouds. Risk management is paramount. Cloud computing uses complex APIs that may push the capabilities of your security team.

Ensure that your SLAs are what you think they are. Check them carefully and look for any potential problems that may cause downtime or disrupt services.

When adopting a hybrid IT strategy, it is essential enterprises look to lock down critical data, minimize vulnerabilities and meet compliance standards to protect against cyber attacks and data breaches.

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