Click to learn more about author Oussama El-Hilali
As cloud services advance, service interruptions will hopefully not be as common as they are today. But we’re not there yet. Hiccups are still bound to happen, and companies can suffer a serious derailment of their operations if mission-critical applications stored in the cloud are disrupted.
In 2019 alone, there have been several notable cloud outages from the major hyperscalers. Google Cloud, for instance, experienced a massive outage that lasted several hours and impacted major customers like Snapchat and Shopify. To avoid extended downtime, many organizations are taking a closer look at hybrid and multi-cloud strategies instead of storing and recovering all their mission and business-critical data in a single cloud.
As companies look to implement these alternative cloud models, it’s important that they fully understand the time and resource investments needed to ensure they’re not leaving the company susceptible to IT failures or cyberattacks. Orchestrating these environments in a way that meets both IT and business needs is no easy feat. Companies must take two key steps to ensure they’re rolling out their cloud strategy successfully:
- Develop a committee to establish cross-organizational needs.
There are a host of different cloud options that an organization can choose from. So it’s critical that companies take a pragmatic approach to evaluate their options and ensure they’re picking services that meet both IT and business needs. To do this, they should create a committee of key decision-makers to establish which data, systems, and applications are most critical to operations; set a budget; and discuss where data currently resides. This way, they have a full picture of the current status of their IT infrastructure and can establish parameters around what they’d ideally like the outcome of the project to be. The biggest mistake organizations make is embarking on these projects without identifying internal champions to lead the endeavor. This first misstep can lead to wasted time, money, and resources.
- Understand the benefits and drawbacks of hybrid and multi-cloud.
When the committee is establishing the organization’s needs, it’s critical that it carefully research multiple cloud services options to determine which has the capabilities to meet the mandates they’ve outlined. Hybrid strategies include a mix of on-premises servers, on-premises hosted private clouds, and public clouds. That, in and of itself, can be tricky enough to manage. When orchestrating on-premises and cloud environments, IT teams must take stock of the data, applications, and workloads they need to protect, and determine how quickly they need to be restored. These details must be mapped out before moving any data or applications. If they’re not, the organization can lose track of where critical information is being stored and inadvertently heighten, rather than reduce, the risk of IT failures, which defeats the purpose of deploying a hybrid strategy in the first place.
Multi-cloud strategies are often part of hybrid cloud deployments, but the key difference is that multiple clouds are being used at one time. This enables cloud-to-cloud failover, which can be incredibly helpful when there is a cloud outage. However, there are risks associated with multiple clouds in that they can become extremely costly, as most public cloud service providers charge expensive fees for moving or accessing data. If the team doesn’t intimately understand the different subscriptions it’s signed up for, budgets can quickly get out of hand. The IT team must also be provided with adequate training resources, as not all public clouds operate in the same manner, and can certainly be different than the company’s own private cloud. If IT administrators don’t understand how to manage each cloud environment efficiently, it can lead to an increased risk of falling victim to cybercrime or an IT failure.
Before embarking on a hybrid or multi-cloud journey, it’s ultimately most important for companies to establish the goals they want to achieve, whether that’s to reduce IT complexity, minimize the threat of downtime, or upgrade their legacy IT infrastructure. Having clear goals in mind will help mitigate the risk that these environments are deployed in a haphazard manner.