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Hybrid IT: how to get the best of both worlds

2022 has seen more organisations move towards hybrid IT estates to glean the best of both worlds from on-premise and cloud computing but with many still lacking the necessary knowledge and tools to achieve the right blend of services, it’s a difficult balance to strike  

By Guy Warren, CEO at ITRS Group

‘The best of both worlds’ is a phrase that’s often thrown around when discussing the benefits of a hybrid IT model, which blends both on-premise servers and cloud computing.

And it’s true – each platform has particular capabilities that make it better suited to particular operations. For example, financial exchanges require low latency networks for trading due to microsecond delays impacting profitability per transaction, meaning it’s better for this type of business-critical infrastructure to be managed on-premises. Meanwhile, the cloud is far more scalable, meaning that if financial institutions are expecting a surge in demand, businesses are capable of easily scaling up to meet this service level.

Additionally, with rapid campaigns to digitise across almost all industries, operating a hybrid model has allowed businesses to manage the migration to cloud computing from the on-premise estate more gradually. Research shows that 82% of businesses globally have adopted hybrid cloud solutions, a remarkable uptake given that prior to the pandemic in 2020, cloud computing was still not the norm for the vast majority of businesses.

However, something that’s equally pertinent and significantly less discussed, is the potential for businesses to get the worst of both worlds by spreading themselves too thinly, making it near impossible to manually monitor and guarantee the operational resilience of the entire estate.

Additionally, many have struggled with the cost of the transition, a factor frequently overlooked at the outset. This has seen businesses fall into the trap of over-sizing their cloud estate to avoid running out of capacity. While this works fine for on-premise estate, it is unnecessarily wasteful when it comes to cloud computing. The number of firms spending at least $12 million on cloud computing annually has nearly doubled in 2022, with 30% of that capacity going to waste.

On the other hand, in a bid to save money, or simply a lack of capacity planning, some have underestimated their capacity needs, leading to bottlenecks and outages.

Moving into 2023, businesses must start to think more strategically about the configuration of their hybrid IT estates, and how to best optimise them. A big part of this must involve looking at how to automate IT estate management and monitoring processes to improve accuracy and free up time that employees could better use to add value to the business and client base.

Several unified capacity management tools exist that provide more effective analysis and projections of demand. Those available as a software as a service (SaaS) are particularly attractive in the world of cloud computing as they can be tailored specifically to each business and allow for limitless flexibility and scalability.

If not for the benefit of the team and customers, businesses must start seriously looking into onboarding such tools for the sake of compliance, with the recent introduction of operational resilience mandates across the UK and EU, and similar legislation forecast for other jurisdictions around the world.

Gone are the days when having one monitoring solution for storage, another for application performance and another for networks will see a business through. This prevents teams from obtaining the end-to-end observability required to keep a system operating effectively. Businesses need to be able to demonstrate that they have the right monitoring technology in place to mitigate downtime. Exceptions won’t be made for newly migrated systems that are still working out the best way to monitor their increasingly complex estate.

A single bird’s eye view will not only help businesses understand the capacity of their estates but, should a problem occur, make it easier to get to the source of it in a time acceptable to both customers and the regulator. You have to actually be able to see and understand both worlds if you want to get the best out of them.

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