If there’s one thing that will remain true about business and technology, it’s that the more innovations are made, the more complex things will become before they get simpler. Just when businesses really seemed to be getting the hang of cloud computing, more complex solutions have come to the forefront with an ongoing debate about the merits and drawbacks of the public cloud compared to the private cloud. If that weren’t complicated enough, now many are extolling the benefits of using a combination of both, effectively creating a hybrid cloud system using multiple environments and providers. Needless to say, this is providing a big challenge for businesses and IT organizations, but it’s one that could be well worth it for the benefits gained by using multiple cloud systems.
Adopting so many cloud platforms of both the public and private variety is not an easy decision to make. Much of the time, businesses decide on it simply out of necessity due to higher demands and limited resources. Hybrid cloud environments are sometimes adopted in order to deal with seasonal peaks in activity. This is especially important for companies that see a spike in activity and sales during the holiday season. A hybrid cloud may also be used by businesses that find themselves expanding into new markets and finding they need to improve their regional support, which means hosting applications in data centers located in new regions. Other businesses may use the hybrid cloud system by externalizing frontend use while securing the backend. This becomes especially handy when utilizing additional frontend activity during peak shopping hours while scaling down during the off hours.
With these situations in mind for why a business would want to use multiple cloud environments, it’s important to look at the management challenges faced by businesses and their IT departments. While this doesn’t hold true for every organization out there, many companies simply don’t have the infrastructure to handle such a drastic change. Many businesses already have a handle on cloud computing, but working with multiple vendors and managing all of them within a hybrid system requires upgraded equipment. IT environments are already complex, so introducing new variables and technologies and getting them to work together smoothly can easily be seen as a monumental task. Many IT organizations are already running at maximum workload tolerance, so adding more to the mix can create an overload. Much of this can be relieved by automating many IT processes, but again this requires the tools and management capabilities that some IT departments simply don’t have.
Integrating multiple cloud vendors also requires a certain level of expertise. There are many questions about cloud computing that have to be answered before beginning the integration process. These questions can include what processes will be done on the cloud, which vendors will be handling which tasks, where the cloud will be located, when the integration will take place, etc. These are a lot of questions to take in, and without the right expertise in cloud computing, the chances of making a wrong decision increase and could lead to some unfortunate consequences down the road. And as the problem becomes more complex, management needs to be well-versed in even more areas of expertise.
Other significant management challenges can be very intimidating for IT departments. IT personnel need to ensure different cloud vendors will be able to work well together, which may require the use of specialized tools and platforms, many of which are still pretty young. Regular maintenance of the system or systems is another factor that needs careful examination, since monitoring and maintaining multiple cloud environments can be difficult and often time-consuming. Then there are the networking and database challenges that every organization must deal with when implementing all of these unique systems to ensure smooth operations for the business.
All of these challenges seem daunting, but the benefits that come from using hybrid cloud systems are great. In fact, research shows that applications done on the cloud deliver 1.7 times more return on investment than those applications that are run on-premise. The multi-cloud approach also gives businesses more freedom and flexibility to meet other business challenges, while also giving them more capabilities than they had before. As long as a business has the resources and personnel ready to handle the challenges of a hybrid cloud, they’ll be able to see the positive results that come from the next generation of cloud computing. Lower costs and improved performance can all be within reach with the right planning and outlook.