Cost Optimization Part 3: Make the Most of Your Hybrid Cloud Environment
In part three of our series on IT cost optimization, we explain that the companies who are finding it advantageous to support multiple cloud environments will need to manage costs efficiently in order to maximize performance.
Where possible, companies like to have their cake and eat it too, a desire that’s driving many to adopt hybrid cloud environments. And why not? Cloud services are increasingly interoperable, companies want to avoid vendor lock-in and have a safe disaster recovery site, and certain applications perform better in differing environments. For enterprise IT, it’s a best-of-all-worlds scenario, provided they can manage their costs and performance effectively.
While a hybrid cloud (a public cloud paired with either a private cloud or traditional IT setup) offers significant opportunities, it also creates challenging new complexities for IT shops. To thrive in this environment, IT professionals have to determine which applications should run in which environment, properly allocate resources in dynamic fashion, and manage their cloud spend flexibly. In other words, the greater number of machines at their disposal, the more pressing the need for IT to maintain control over performance and cost.
Generally, organizations should pursue the public cloud only after determining that some applications will deliver better performance there, and at lower cost. Conversely, some apps will not be good candidates, and it’s the job of IT to assign them into one of these two camps.
Usually, the ideal candidates for the cloud are newer, leaner applications that could benefit from elastic resources; leave-behinders tend to be bulky legacy applications would need significant retooling to run efficiently in the cloud. Security and compliance also come into play. For instance, it may not be appropriate to place medical or financial data in the public cloud, security advances notwithstanding.
After that, organizations should develop a clear architecture plan. As TechTarget notes, traffic paths and patterns will change in a cloud hybrid network, moving from a single data center to several environments, and making it more difficult to manage their resources in a way that guarantees performance. They recommend creating direct connections between those multiple environments in order to direct resources more fluidly and maintain some sort of centralized control. Often, vendors’ own tools or open-source software are useful here.
The real challenge, however, is to maximize not only the performance, but the efficiency of resource usage for applications, regardless of environment. This requires more than selecting an appropriate environment for an app and establishing dedicated network connections.
Organizations should realize that resource usage isn’t automatically optimized in any environment. The cloud, for one, can give the appearance of excellent app performance by automatically boosting it with too many resources (one of the reasons why it’s harder to monitor performance in the cloud).
This problem is only magnified in a hybrid environment, which means that organizations need to be able to monitor both the performance and usage-efficiency of resources, redirecting capacity as needed. Put another way, great performance doesn’t always indicate a great price — organizations need both in a successful hybrid project.
For that reason, IT professionals need to be able to leverage their hybrid environment to maximize the cost-efficiency and effectiveness of every application. That’s not easy to do with so many moving parts, and many IT shops choose to use performance monitoring tools like TeamQuest’s Vityl suite to automate much of the data collection and analysis involved. Ideally, organizations should leverage both horizontal and vertical integration, monitoring each individual machine across the hybrid environment from a single dashboard location.
This goes to show that, as flexible as the cloud can be, organizations should avoid approaching hybrid environments in an ad hoc fashion. Despite their advantages, the complexity of such environments can obscure costs and inefficiencies. With a carefully designed plan and calibrated tools, however, they can deliver significantly more value to the company.