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Before embarking on a hybrid cloud storage deployment, you need to consider the big picture. What do you want to accomplish, beyond what you're already doing on premises and/or in the public cloud? Is a hybrid cloud architecture a good fit for the organization's planned use cases? Are you familiar with other companies that have successfully deployed a hybrid cloud for a similar set of usage scenarios?
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If you're happy with the answers to these questions, then you're ready to prepare your on-premises environment for a hybrid cloud implementation. Consider the following items as part of your preparation checklist:
1. Map out the primary use cases. This will help you decide which ones to pursue initially in the hybrid cloud. Taneja Group recommends starting with one or two scenarios and working out any issues before moving to the hybrid cloud more broadly.
2. Select the specific apps you will run to support those use cases. It's important to understand whether the applications themselves are designed for a hybrid cloud implementation. For example, a modern disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) app will likely have been created with the hybrid cloud in mind. This can reduce, or at least simplify, the infrastructure-level integration you'll need to do, at least for your cloud-ready apps.
3. Determine and document your requirements for key service-level agreement metrics. This covers SLA areas such as storage performance, availability, security and quality of service, as well as network bandwidth and latency. Integration alternatives should also be evaluated against those requirements.
4. Evaluate candidate public cloud providers for ease of hybrid cloud integration. Check out factors like virtual private network connectivity, infrastructure as a service offerings, service and usage terms, and corresponding costs. Ensure the provider's IaaS offerings are sufficient for your needs and that the expected benefits significantly outweigh the anticipated costs of your hybrid cloud deployment.
5. Narrow your integration choice to one or two options. The best hybrid cloud implementation choices might include purpose-built software, cloud-enabled apps with built-in integration capabilities or cloud storage gateway functionality.
6. Take stock of your current infrastructure. Decide what additional systems and software you'll need to make your hybrid cloud a reality. For example, if you choose a gateway approach, you'll need to invest in an on-premises appliance or gateway-enabled array, whereas a do-it-yourself integration plan might benefit from some type of software-defined storage layer. These are two very different integration plays, with the latter likely requiring lower Capex but higher development and integration costs.
7. Assess your storage management needs. Determine how your current management tools and processes will need to adapt to the hybrid cloud project.
8. Scope out the resources and skill sets needed to implement and maintain each integration option on your short list. This will help you to decide which ones you'll be able to accomplish and support within a given budget. If you move use cases and/or storage capacity to the cloud, you'll need to consider the effect on your current staff. For example, a cloud deployment may offload storage administration, freeing up your current staff for new tasks or responsibilities. In the case of larger deployments, you may need to reassign IT resources or invest in retraining.
9. Consider your future growth and use case requirements. This will ensure your chosen hybrid cloud implementation approach will accommodate long-term needs. For example, an application-driven integration scheme that works well for DRaaS might not be optimal to support primary storage.
Once you've made it through these checklist items, you should have a pretty good feel for what approach, or set of approaches, will best satisfy your needs. At this point, you should be ready to move forward with a hybrid cloud deployment to support your initial use cases.
As you gain experience with your initial foray into the hybrid cloud, you can apply what you've learned from those first one or two use cases to further improve and increase the value of your deployment. As hybrid cloud becomes more popular, keep an eye out for new functionality and services that can ease the integration and management of your environment and make it more effective. While hybrid cloud is far from a panacea, it will continue to prove its value for an expanding set of use cases.
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