Hybrid IT Strategy: Simplifying Application Portability and Management

By Dave Cope, Senior Director, Market Development, Cisco CloudCenter

Dave Cope, Senior Director, Market Development, Cisco CloudCenter

With the recent emergence of the cloud as a viable enterprise IT solution, many businesses are reevaluating their placement of application workloads. Traditional datacenters, private clouds, and public clouds all are being considered. But today, the answer is clear. Businesses have voted with their time and money and are choosing “all of the above.” According to the Cisco® Global Cloud Index, 80 percent of enterprises are already using multiple public clouds, and 55 percent have deployed some type of hybrid IT strategy that uses a mix of datacenters and private and public cloud environments.

With a hybrid approach, IT can be truly responsive. With hybrid use cases such as bursting on demand, cloud-based high availability and disaster recovery, DevOps, and hybrid IT-as-a-service, decisions about where to deploy workloads can be based on business factors, not just technical requirements.

"In the digital enterprise, technology is the essence of business success"

Although hybrid IT may be the primary strategy for most businesses for the foreseeable future, many traditional tools and processes are optimized for either pure datacenter or single-cloud environments; and are not designed to work well across IT-managed and rented cloud infrastructure. Orchestration, management, budgeting, security, and analytics processes need to work across environments to make a hybrid approach viable.

HybridCloud: Digital Transformation with More Options and Choices

IT executives want to enable digital transformation and to evolve from data and infrastructure managers, to technology consultants, and ultimately to strategic partners with business executives. They want to help business leaders select the best technology option for a particular business opportunity, choosing from a fluid mix of data center and cloud offerings. But they don’t want to be hampered by the unmanageable mix of platforms, data stores, and integration challenges that can result from ad hoc cloud rollout.

The on-demand scalable resource pools in the cloud and the software-defined technologies and related automation in the data center give IT architects more technically feasible options than ever before. Applications can now be more readily deployed where they are needed without the rigidity that in the recent past locked applications into a single data center, hypervisor, or public cloud environment.

It’s All about the Application

Today, the number of applications and environments is increasing dramatically. New Internet of Things (IoT), customer-facing, mobile, and line-of-business (LoB) applications using traditional architecture, platform-as-a-service (PaaS)designs, and new containerized technologies are being deployed and versioned at a fast pace.

At the same time, infrastructure environments are rapidly diversifying with the focus of businesses on hybrid IT. More, smaller datacenters and private, managed private, virtual private, and public clouds are being used, but with no standardization across these environments.

With the increased speed of application deployment and the diversity of infrastructure choices, forcing applications to conform to the nuances of infrastructure just doesn’t scale. Businesses need a new way to abstract information to the application level and use a cloud-independent application profile that can be deployed in any environment. This focus on application centricity is essential to the success of hybrid IT environments.

The Rise of Cloud-Independent Platforms

A cloud-independent application management platform provides a proven way to solve the problems of cloud and application complexity. The platform provides a central point of visibility and control, giving users the flexibility to choose deployment environments to meet business and technical requirements, without the need for deep expertise about each environment, and without locking the application to a single environment.

Keeping applications flexible and not hard-wired to a single environment also removes much of the stress from rolling out a cloud strategy. Even if business priorities change, the applications connecting the end user to the underlying infrastructure services don’t need to change with them.

Whether the user is a DevOps engineer trying to finalize an application build, a drug researcher seeking to set up a lab stack, or a marketing manager wanting to launch a campaign, a central management platform offers critical benefits. With relevant click-button service catalog items and with access to fully configured ready-to-use applications that can be consumed on the premises or through hosted or cloud infrastructure, users get what they need and can build on the value of the cloud.

With this approach, enterprises can switch among public, private, and hybrid clouds as often as they like, without affecting the employees, whose interface will remain consistent and delivered through the cloud-independent application platform.

Modernizing the Data Center

The cloud experience has trained businesses to expect IT to be a consumable service. As a result, easy access and pay-per-use economics have to be extended back into datacenters that will continue to be part of today’s hybrid IT environment.

Getting the data center to act more like a public cloud doesn’t necessarily mean building a private cloud that emulates the infrastructure service offerings of a public cloud. IT organizations can gain cloud like agility and simplify service delivery by adopting a cloud management platform. An application-centric management and orchestration platform can offer applications as a service through a consumption-based model that consistently delivers the application on any infrastructure foundation.

An “as-a-service” application delivery model allows organizations to embed use, security, and analytics policies into automated service delivery workflows, helping ensure that the organization is safe and in compliance regardless of where the workflow is deployed.

This type of model accelerates business innovation, allowing your business to outperform peers in your industry.

In the digital enterprise, technology is the essence of business success. Business leaders feel empowered to implement technology solutions that help them meet the needs of their customers. With a hybrid IT strategy and a cloud-independent management platform, IT leaders can be trusted partnersof the business, deploying the right workload in the right environment, giving users what they need when they need it, and providing the visibility and control that is needed to help ensure business success.

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