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The path to hybrid IT success

Level 11

By Paul Parker, SolarWinds Federal & National Government Chief Technologist

There may still be a few skeptics out there, but cloud adoption is getting commonplace. Here's an interesting article from my colleague Joe Kim, where he offers suggestions on simplifying the complexity.

The idea of moving IT infrastructure to the cloud may have initially sounded interesting, but this optimism was quickly followed by, “Hold on a minute! What about security? What about compliance?”

Administrators quickly realized that the cloud may not be a panacea, and a complete migration to the cloud may not be the best idea. Organizations still needed to keep at least some things on-premises, while also taking advantage of the benefits of the cloud.

A complex hybrid IT world

Thus, the concept of hybrid IT was born. In a hybrid IT environment, some infrastructure is migrated to the cloud, while other components remain onsite. Agencies can gain the economic and agile benefits of a cloud environment while still keeping a tight rein on security.

However, hybrid IT has introduced a slew of challenges, especially in terms of network complexity. Indeed, respondents to a recent SolarWinds survey of public-sector IT professionals listed increased network complexity as the top challenge created by hybrid IT infrastructures. That survey discovered that nearly two-thirds of IT professionals said their organizations currently use up to three cloud provider environments, and 10% use 10 or more.

Compounding this challenge is the fact that hybrid IT environments are becoming increasingly distributed. Agencies can have multiple applications hosted in different data centers—all managed by separate service providers. Even applications that are managed on-premises will often be located in different offices.

Connecting to these various applications and services requires multiple network paths, which can be difficult to monitor and manage. Even a simple Google® search requires many paths and hops to monitor. Traditional network monitoring tools designed for on-premises monitoring are not built for this complexity.

A single-path approach to simplicity

While administrators cannot actually combine all of their network paths into one, they can—from a monitoring perspective—adopt a single-path analysis approach. This form of monitoring effectively takes those multiple paths and creates a single-path view of the activity taking place across the hybrid IT network. Formulating a single path allows administrators to get a much better perspective on the performance, traffic, and configuration details of devices and applications across hybrid networks. This, in turn, makes it easier to ascertain, pinpoint, and rectify issues.

Single-path analysis can help managers quickly identify issues that can adversely impact quality of service, allowing them to more easily track network outages and slowdowns and tackle these problems before users experience the deleterious effects. Managers can also gain better visibility into connections between end-users and services, as single-path analysis provides a clear view of any network infrastructure that might be in the path and could potentially impede QoS.

IT professionals can take solace in the fact that there is a simpler way to manage complex hybrid IT infrastructures. By following a single-path analysis strategy, managers can greatly reduce the headaches and challenges associated with managing and monitoring the many different applications and services within their hybrid IT infrastructures.

Find the full article on Government Computer News.

17 Comments

Thanks, I know there are some government organizations starting to move into the Cloud, but there is still some apprehension in doing so.  The lack of control, touch-and-feel is still a major hurdle for some executives to understand, but nonetheless strides are taking place to move forward. 

Level 14

We are looking at a fairly large scale move to the cloud.  System monitoring will become a much greater challenge and they just won't listen when I try to explain what we will no longer be able to do.  Fortunately a move to Office365 for 5000 staff will happen first so they will get to experience just how much control we will lose before 500+ servers go.  It's going to be an interesting couple of years.

Level 13

good article

MVP
MVP

Nice article

MVP
MVP

Thanks for the stimulation! 

When I was building a DR site, my boss kept asking ... why can't we go to the Cloud???  Such a loaded question, and with such little thought!  I really appreciate the information, and have copied to the documentation I have been collecting!!! I am getting so much information from this community, that it is has made my job LIFE much better; I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Level 20

With some new special clouds provided by AWS and Azure with direct fiber attachment to a POP this may some day be acceptable for some of our workloads.

Level 20

BTW the new quarterly STIG's just came out and there's a BUNCH of them.

Count me in that group of "a few skeptics".   When I can point at a location and say "My data is here.  I see and control its physical and logical access.  Its backups / resilience are over THERE, and I control physical and logical access there, too.", then I can trust my data is safe and secure as I can make it.

Placing it in a nebulous area, where physical and logical access are not under my control, won't leave me comfortable.  To see the trustworthiness of the cloud, look at the news for the latest reports of identify theft, ransomware, stolen credit cards, ruined reputations, etc.

I just bought an HP notebook for my daughter.  Setting it up (Windows 10, Cortana) was a breeze.  Creating "LOCAL" users was not made easy, and required a bit of Googling, and steering away from all the obvious/easy Microsoft Cloud settings.  Microsoft and HP are obviously saying:  "Use the cloud--all your documents and files and pictures will be available to you on every device, no matter where you are!"

Except that's not true for those of us who live and work in rural areas where Internet access and cell phone coverage are not guaranteed.

Level 20

This is exactly why a I like to pay cash at many stores including TJMAX.

Level 20

I'll probably never totally get over the concern about having little control over what's running where in the cloud.

For many organizations it seems to be an easy way of saying "Data Protection is handled by my Cloud contractor. Many miss the point that it is still their responsibility to document/define/... many things themselves.

Let's see where this trend will lead us. Maybe we will be seeing a trend to shift back to "on prem" in 7-10 years?

Level 13

Loss all control.......................

MVP
MVP

As more and more businesses embrace "cloud" we have to prepare for it in every field. Healthcare is reluctant to move to "cloud" due to security concerns, but it is inevitable as the cost/benefit (not to mention management will eventually jump on the "cool" factor) begins to make it more difficult to justify in house for many applications.

Truth be told we are all using more "cloud" than we want to believe. When our customers swipe a credit card it's processed in the cloud somewhere. We recently purchased defibrillator that keep a database of usage/dates/times/levels, etc. and guess where that database lives - on the vendors computer - i.e. somewhere in a "cloud." Of course if we were to suggest that we build a database for such information and store it on a cloud providers data center it would be met with all kinds of concerns - it's  a perception matter more than a security matter in many cases.

MVP
MVP

I know VM Ware is hoping that it shifts back on prem.  I am very curious to see how things play out... I have another 10 - 12 years to go, and was terrified that I would be unable to keep up with all the changes.   The changes in technology have actually made our jobs easier, but with additional risk.

I saw a talk on software defined networking... I though ... hope I am retired before that happens..... that SDN was the best thing ever; totally simplified the management of the VM Data Centers and storage.

Level 9

Definitely seeing more of this with my clients!

Level 21

I sometimes feel like folks have over complicated this idea of Hybrid cloud.  I understand that is is more complex and does introduce new challenges but that doesn't mean it needs to be this big scary beast that folks seem to make it out to be.  For organizations thinking about moving in a hybrid direction; start off small and find a vendor with experience that can help you.

Level 21

ecklerwr1​ I agree with you on this.  I just look at it as one less thing I need to worry about.

About the Author
Paul Parker, a 25-year information technology industry veteran, and expert in Government. He leads SolarWinds’ efforts to help public sector customers manage the security and performance of their systems by using technology. Parker most recently served as vice president of engineering at Infoblox‘s federal division. Before that, he served in C-level or senior management positions at Ward Solutions, Eagle Alliance and Dynamics Research Corp.