What is a hybrid cloud? Ask 10 people in the IT industry and you’ll probably get 10 different answers. At the most basic level, a hybrid cloud is the intersection of an off-premises, hyperscale cloud service and a privatized IT infra­­­structure that you run as a cloud. The degree to which those two environments intersect can vary widely.

For some organizations, it simply means managing both ecosystems in a way that meets cost, performance and security requirements. For others, it involves passing data between the two environments — even just using the public cloud for backup. At a more advanced level, the on-premises and cloud environments are integrated such that the organization is able to move workloads between them as needed.

When you add vendor definitions of the hybrid cloud, things can get confusing. Vendors tend to view the hybrid cloud through the lens of the products they provide rather than what the hybrid cloud model can do for the customer. That’s why it’s important for organizations to step away from preconceived notions and consider the problems they are trying to solve.

Generally, customers are looking to reduce risk, lower costs or add value, and within each of those objectives there may be business, financial and technical requirements. For example, organizations may adopt a hybrid cloud due to security, privacy and regulatory compliance concerns. In some cases, organizations look to the hybrid cloud to balance OpEx costs and capitalized investments. Sometimes it’s about driving better scalability when on-premises infrastructure is limited by physical or operational constraints.

There may be competing priorities within the organization. The Rahi team recently worked with a customer that was highly focused on building out a DevOps pipeline to accelerate application development. The development group was inclined to use the public cloud because of the elasticity it provides, while the IT group wanted to keep everything on-premises to maximize the value of existing infrastructure.

The IT group didn’t know that someone in the developer ecosystem had already signed an agreement with a public cloud provider. The company had two sunk costs — it’s existing environment and the public cloud. The Rahi team helped the organization maximize both investments by moving some developer workloads to the public cloud and keeping some on-premises in a hybrid model.

Rahi’s approach is to first understand the customer’s objectives and motivation for moving to a hybrid cloud. We then look at the IT resources the customer has in place today, and consider how to best take advantage of those resources while integrating the cloud into the IT operational model. We’ll look at financial impacts, and any existing business relationships the customer may have in place that may drive the choice of cloud provider. We’ll also evaluate the customer’s operational processes and skill sets from a technical perspective to ensure that the journey to the hybrid cloud is successful.

By looking at all those components together, we can gain a clearer picture of what a hybrid cloud solution might look like. We can help the customer determine which workloads to move into the public cloud and understand the impact on their data strategy. Ultimately the goal is to align cloud and on-premises resources to the needs and objectives of the business. That’s what hybrid cloud is all about.

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