by Deb Cobb | April 06, 2023

7 Steps to Creating a Hybrid Cloud Strategy

Creating a hybrid cloud strategy is no easy endeavor. Because hybrid clouds mix and share resources and services from two or more computing environments, they rely on integration and orchestration capabilities to coordinate data movement, sharing, and synchronization. They may also incorporate virtualization, containerization, networking, and storage technologies, add even more elements to a hybrid cloud design.

Formulating a plan for your hybrid cloud is critical for a successful implementation. So, what is involved in creating your hybrid cloud strategy? There are many elements to consider, and they include the following seven steps:

1. Determine your requirements

The IT team needs to consider several factors, including the:

  • Workloads that need to be supported
  • Anticipated traffic volumes
  • Data security and compliance requirements

You need to understand these implications to select the right mix of public and private clouds.

2. Select cloud providers

Your requirements will provide insight into which public cloud providers can best meet your needs. You’ll not only want to think about reliability, security, and support, but also pricing.

Cloud pricing can be confusing. Comparing prices across various vendors often results in a rabbit warren of pricing options. The “Big 3” cloud vendors (e.g., Amazon, Microsoft Azure, and Google) offer different plans that span consumption and tiered pricing across computing, storage, and AI/ML services. Although the Big 3 vendors don’t require long-term contracts, they do invoke egress fees, the fees they charge users for moving data out of the cloud. These fees can promote vendor lock-in for larger organizations that are forced to continue using that vendor’s cloud services, because switching to another provider or moving data sets back on-prem is not financially feasible.

3. Design your network

In a hybrid cloud, the network design connects your public and private clouds. Robust networking is foundational to any hybrid cloud deployment model.

As you plan, you'll need to assess interconnectivity options including local area networks, wide area networks, virtual private networks, and APIs. You’ll also want to evaluate how your technology preferences in those areas impact bandwidth, latency, performance, and security to formulate a network design that meets your needs.

Various tools, such as dedicated management software to allocate resources and enable provisioning to different environments, data integration and management software, and data analytics tools, will be integral to your hybrid cloud.

  • Data integration: Differences in data formats can make integrating data challenging enough, but some data may be moved from various storage repositories and be subject to differing security protocols. Further, maintaining data quality is important. Your data integration strategy should encompass tools that ensure data deduplication and provide capabilities to deliver accuracy, completeness, consistency, and recency.
  • Data security: Hybrid cloud architectures present vulnerabilities when they aren’t properly secured. Data may be at risk during transit between systems or when it’s stored in multiple locations. Consider adopting security measures such as encryption, access controls, and auditing to safeguard your most sensitive data.
  • Data latency: Data latency not only impacts performance, but also user experience. Consider using real-time data processing and analysis tools to ensure data availability and reduce latency.
  • Data analytics: Advanced analytics extract insights from almost any type of data. Select analytics tools capable of analyzing large volumes of data from multiple sources and visualization tools to present results to all data consumers.

4. Prioritize security

Security is a foundational element in any hybrid cloud implementation, especially when dealing with sensitive data. Ensure that your security measures are consistent across all cloud platforms and that your data is encrypted both in transit and at rest. You’ll want to assess other security considerations including:

  • Identity and access management: Managing user identities and permissions across multiple cloud environments can become complex. A unified identity and access management system can ensure that users can access resources when they need them.
  • Network security: Securing the network across private and public cloud environments is important. Helpful security capabilities include firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and virtual private network (VPN) connections.
  • Data encryption: Encryption protocols can protect data in transit and at rest. Consider using SSL/TLS protocols for data transfer and encrypting data stored in the cloud.
  • Disaster recovery/ business continuity: Most networks are vulnerable to disruption. A disaster recovery plan works to restore critical data and services quickly in the event of an outage or unanticipated disruption.

5. Strategize workload placement

Determining which workloads to run in which cloud can be hard. When making these decisions, IT teams not only need to consider factors such as cost, performance, compliance, and security, but also many other potential impacts such as:

  • Application architecture: To leverage the scalability and availability benefits of hybrid cloud, applications built on microservices-based architecture may need more granular workload management.
  • Workload type: Big data analytics, scientific simulations, and machine learning application workloads may need more processing power, storage, or memory.
  • Traffic volume: Some workloads generate high traffic volumes and require a more scalable and distributed hybrid cloud architecture to ensure performance meets your designated SLAs. Examples include e-commerce sites during periods of peak usage, IoT data streams, and online gaming applications that require constant communication between the game client and server.
  • Data sensitivity: As mentioned above, highly sensitive data may require a more secure private cloud environment while less sensitive data workloads can be directed to a public cloud.
  • Regulatory compliance: The handling of some sensitive data may be regulated. IT teams need to consider the impact of various mandates, such as HIPAA, GDPR, or PCI DSS, on their hybrid cloud architecture.
  • Overarching business goals: Some enterprises will prioritize cost optimization and leverage public cloud resources, while others may prioritize data privacy and security and direct more workloads to a private cloud implementation.

6. Consider governance policies

More companies are realizing the importance of governance in managing the data that end users access. You’ll want to establish policies to address monitoring, backup and recovery, compliance, and performance optimization.

Storing data in multiple geographies and various locations on-prem and in the cloud presents data governance challenges, such as inconsistent data retention policies, differing data privacy regulations, and varying data classification schemes. Make sure to standardize your data governance approach to comply with legal and regulatory requirements and create data management policies that address data lifecycle management.

7. Don’t forget training

Don’t forget to train your team to manage and support this new hybrid cloud environment. Make sure you have dedicated staff to support the overall network design, the cloud platforms you implemented, your security measures, workload placement, and management and governance policies.

The key to hybrid cloud success

When businesses implement hybrid cloud strategy well, they glean a host of benefits. However, they risk their brand and competitive position when they are unable to secure and manage hybrid models effectively and efficiently.

Don’t wait to think about the impact of data integration tools on your hybrid cloud model. Data integration is an important element of your overall hybrid cloud strategy—you’ll likely want to connect to many different sources and targets and implement ETL and ELT capabilities that support data transformations on data in-flight and at rest.

If you’re looking for simple, yet powerful data pipeline technology, get started with a fully-functional free trial of CData Sync today.