By Theresa Miller and Phoummala Schmitt


Hybrid IT has moved from buzzword status to reality. More organizations are realizing that they are in a hybrid world. Including any potential impact, you should be thinking about the following: What is hybrid IT? Why do you care? What does it mean for the future of IT?


Hybrid IT and the Organization


The introduction of the cloud has made organizations wonder what hybrid IT means to them and their business applications. Hybrid IT is any combination of on-premises and cloud in just about any capacity. Cloud for Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS), Software as a Service (SAAS), Platform as a Service (PAAS), and any other cloud option you may choose. The moment you choose a cloud to provide something in your enterprise, you are not in a mode of hybrid IT.


With hybrid IT comes the same level of responsibility as on-premises. Moving an application to the cloud doesn’t mean that the cloud provider is responsible for backups, monitoring, software updates, or security unless that is part of your agreement with that cloud provider. Make sure you know your agreement and responsibilities from the beginning.


Hybrid IT can provide cost savings, and while some may argue otherwise, it comes down to a budget shift to operational cost. The true value is that you remove the capital overhead of maintaining your own servers, heating, cooling, and sometimes even software updates.


Is there value to a hybrid configuration within a Microsoft Exchange deployment?


Looking back, it seems Microsoft was one of the great innovators when it came to email in the cloud. It wasn't exactly successful in the beginning, but today this option has grown into a very stable product, making it the option of choice for many organizations. So how does email factor into hybrid? I wonder if migrating the Exchange online through hybrid is necessary? This is due to the ability to failback, the ability to keep some email workloads onsite, and the ability to create a migration experience similar to an on-premises deployment. These options work to create a more seamless migration experience overall.


How you ask? Here are some of the technical functionalities that are vital to that seamless experience.


  • Mail routing between sites – When correctly configured, internal and external routing appear seamless to the end-user
  • Mail routing in shared namespace – This is important to your configuration if the internal and external SMTP domain remains the same
  • Unified Global Address List – Contributing to the seamless user experience, the user sees all of their coworkers in one address list, regardless of whether or not they are on-premises or in the cloud
  • Free/Busy is shared between on-premises and cloud - This also contributes to the seamless user experience by featuring a visible calendar showing availability, no matter where the mailbox exists
  • A single Outlook web app URL for both on-premises and cloud – If your organization uses this functionality, your configuration can be set up with the same URL, regardless of mailbox location


How about hybrid IT for VDI?


VDI has been showing significant growth in organizations. It is becoming more interesting to companies with an estimated growth rate of 29% over the next couple of years. So what about hybrid? Well, to date we are still seeing the strongest options for VDI being within on-premises product options. That being said, there are some cloud options that are getting stronger that can definitely be considered.


Many of these options do not have strong plans for hybrid, but are rock solid if you are looking for one or the other: on-premises or cloud, but not both. So, what are the gaps for hybrid? To date, many of these options have proprietary components that only work with certain cloud providers. Connector options between on-premises and cloud are still in the early stages, and there needs to be more consideration around applications that are on-premises that need to work in the cloud.


Hybrid IT - Ready or not


So, if you are already moving just a single application to the cloud, you are embarking on the hybrid IT journey. When moving to Microsoft Exchange Online, be sure to use hybrid for your deployment. Last but not least, if you are ready for VDI, choose either on-premises or cloud only to get started. Also, be prepared for some bumps in the road if your applications are on-premises and you chose to put your VDI in the cloud. This is because this option is very new and every application has different needs and requirements.


If you would like to learn more about hybrid IT for VDI and Exchange, check out our recent webcast, "Hybrid IT: Transforming Your IT Organization. And let us know what you think!