Digital transformation is a broad term for the act of changing and improving your business processes through the implementation of new technologies. The cloud plays a major role in digital transformation because it provides a flexible, scalable, and accessible environment that’s ideal for a wide range of business applications. However, there are still many processes that are better suited for a traditional, on-prem data center or colocation infrastructure due to cost, security, or performance concerns.
Combining public cloud platforms with private infrastructure is known as hybrid cloud infrastructure, and it allows organizations to map their business processes and applications to the environments best suited to run them. In this post, we’ll discuss the role of hybrid cloud in digital transformation and provide tips for managing and orchestrating a hybrid infrastructure.
The importance of hybrid cloud in digital transformation
While the public cloud offers many advantages, there are a variety of reasons why an organization would want or need to keep some services private.
For example, a company doing business in an industry that’s subject to strict data privacy regulations—like finance, defense, or healthcare—may want to keep sensitive data in an on-premises data center so they can maintain complete control over the security and access control measures. At the same time, they might have other processes and applications that aren’t as high-risk and could benefit from the flexibility of cloud infrastructure.
Sometimes, an organization will migrate a workload to the cloud, only to bring it back in-house later. For instance, cloud services can reduce costs for certain applications but can increase costs for others. Most public cloud providers charge extra for data egress—transferring data of their systems and to another cloud or on-premises. That means applications that require a lot of data egress can be much more expensive to run in the cloud. That cost increase may be worthwhile in the long run to achieve optimal scalability and flexibility, but with a recession looming, many organizations are sacrificing those big picture goals to cut costs for short-term survival.
One of the biggest use cases for hybrid cloud in digital transformation is a gradual cloud migration. Digital transformation is a journey, and along the way, many organizations end up in a hybrid state because they’ve successfully moved some of their processes to the cloud but have others that still live in the data center. For example, a business may send some of their data analysis workflows to a business intelligence application in the cloud but then have an on-premises DCIM tool analyzing the same data in the data center. They eventually transition from hybrid cloud to a pure cloud or multi-cloud environment once they’ve finished migrating all their workloads to the cloud.
Hybrid cloud is one of the most popular enterprise infrastructure models because it’s flexible and affordable, allowing organizations to make the digital transformation journey at their own pace and in their own way.
Tips for managing hybrid cloud infrastructure
The most effective hybrid cloud deployment provides a single, seamless digital environment for business applications and resources, with centralized workload and infrastructure orchestration that works across all platforms and data centers. Let’s discuss how to achieve this ideal hybrid cloud deployment.
To create a seamless environment in which workflows move effortlessly between the cloud and the data center to deliver a simple and unified experience to end-users, you need all your public cloud, private cloud, and data center solutions to work together. The best way to ensure this is by only using vendor-agnostic (vendor-neutral) hardware and software from the very beginning, but for most organizations that ship has already sailed. The next best option is to use a vendor-agnostic management platform that’s able to hook into all those closed solutions and control them equally. These solutions allow you to orchestrate workloads across public cloud, private cloud, and legacy environments without needing to replace all the systems and software already in place.
A hybrid cloud deployment can create some networking challenges because of the need to orchestrate WAN (wide area networking) connections across multiple clouds and data centers, each of which may have a different networking infrastructure in place. Software-defined wide area networking, or SD-WAN, helps to reduce the complexity of hybrid cloud networking by separating the control and management processes from the underlying WAN hardware.
SD-WAN virtualizes network management functions as software or script-based configurations, which enables centralized and automated deployment. With the aid of a vendor-agnostic management platform, SD-WAN benefits hybrid cloud infrastructure by consolidating control behind a single pane of glass. This gives administrators the ability to easily orchestrate, optimize, and secure the entire distributed network.
Automation plays a key role in digital transformation because it can speed up workflows while reducing the risk of human error. For example, using automation to deploy new infrastructure means administrators can provision many resources in a short amount of time while ensuring consistent configurations.
Automation also improves security, both by reducing the rate of misconfigurations and by ensuring all infrastructure is patched as soon as possible. Unpatched infrastructure leaves you vulnerable to hacks and ransomware, but keeping track of updates for so many vendor solutions in so many different places can be challenging. Automation can help by ensuring patches are pushed out to hybrid cloud infrastructure solutions as soon as they become available.
Vendor agnostic platforms, SD-WAN, and automation are key tools that help organizations more effectively utilize a hybrid cloud in their digital transformation journey.
The role of ZPE Systems in digital transformation
ZPE Systems offers a range of vendor-agnostic network management solutions to help your organization achieve digital transformation. The Nodegrid platform can dig its hooks into your legacy and mixed-vendor infrastructure to provide a common interface from which to manage and orchestrate your entire network architecture. Plus, Nodegrid can host or integrate with your choice of SD-WAN solutions to help you consolidate your tech stack while delivering optimized performance and security.
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