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Uncovering What Hybrid IT Means to Organizations and Their Business Applications

Level 10

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!

12 Comments
Level 21

Hybrid environments are complicated and unapproachable to folks that don't have experience with them.  My advice for anybody that has hybrid on their road-map but are concerned about taking the plunge is to contact a company such as ours that specialize in helping companies design, build and maintain hybrid environments.

MVP
MVP

For me, hybrid environments need to make sense.

But there are some questions that take serious thought before you go there.

Email, especially where you have a number of offsite branches, locations, etc., has a possibility of being a good candidate provided security is in place.

Thanks for the posting !

MVP
MVP

From my experience hybrid environments are often just a compromise. Many people have the "MINE" feeling - it's my data, it's my services, it's my customers, it's my (fill in the blank), so I want to be able to touch it. I wasn't involved in our current move to Office 365, but the build is Hybrid. We have servers in the cloud and servers on site. When we were onsite creating/modifying/deleting email addresses was quite simple - build an AD account set an email and you were done. If they had an AD account and no email you simply added and email address to the AD account and you were done. Under hybrid the is the add it here, run a script there, wait, do the hokey pokey, wait some more - look at the script (with fingers crossed hopping that it was successful - if not start over. Things done in one environment may or may not replicate. Things built in one environment may look different in the other. And of course the main reason for hybrid (at least our build) was in case the "cloud" was down. However, if the could is down the local doesn't work because it has to connect to the cloud to function. RRRRrrrrrrr

MVP
MVP

Nice article

Level 20

Our experiences with VDI have been in many cases (more than not) been a negative experience.

We took the classic route over the past 7 years. Virtualize all. Then migrate non-PRD to CLoud. Then migrate non-essential and service-related apps to the Cloud. This is where we are now. We are left with peeling critical apps one at a time and throwing them up.

I've personally been affected more this year at work by cloud resource unavailability than in any ten years of local resource unavailability.  There's no hybrid when the cloud isn't available and reliable and secure.  Making local systems cover for when the cloud resources can't be reached wastes resources and bypasses the cloud.

Why not just bypass the cloud initially--at least until it's secure and reliably available and affordable--and save your customers the headaches?  Truly, there is an analogy to be made of "everyone else jumping off a cliff."

Getting the business to understand your support limits when you adopt anything hosted is a big challenge. There have been a few times where the accountability of the service we purchased didn't live up to expectations, but recently its gotten better. People are more used to failures in the cloud, but when work stops users aren't happy. Today most mission critical things are still on-prem but I see the gears churning. Big shifts are in motion.

Yes, it's hard to see availability decrease when moving services to the cloud.

Services in the cloud were advertised to not only to be more available, but more affordable as the Microsoft license dollars saved were expected to (partially) offset the service costs of the cloud.

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MVP
MVP

Another frustration with cloud and the manager mindset is that separation of capital expenses vs. operational expenses and this is one of the things that cloud providers have latched onto. In my mind if you spend $10,000 on a piece of hardware (capital) or spend $5,000 for a piece of hardware (capital) and another $5,000 on "services" (operational) - you've still spent $10,000 either way. But most businesses see such a separation between the two types of spend that the cloud is looking more appealing because it becomes operational expenses. I know that in many businesses capital has to be requested, but operational is often looked at as "well you gotta have it." But I would think accounting would want to dig a little deeper.

You nailed that right on target, Richard.  I've had to take classes in Cost Accounting For Engineers for my degree, and I remain dismayed at the games people play with figures to "legally" make a sow's ear appear to be a silk purse.

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MVP
MVP

please ignore the man behind the curtain, I mean cloud.