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Visibility is the Key to Hybrid IT

Level 11

By Paul Parker, SolarWinds Federal & National Government Chief Technologist

Here is an interesting article from my colleague Joe Kim, in which he points out the shift in responsibilities caused by hybrid IT.

Moving to a hybrid environment, where part of your infrastructure is in the cloud while the rest of it remains on-premises, may require a far greater shift in responsibilities for the federal IT team than anticipated.

In a traditional on-premises environment, the federal IT manager needs three things to be successful: responsibility, accountability, and authority.

In a hybrid IT environment, the federal IT manager is still responsible and accountable. However, part of the cloud dynamic is that a manager’s level of authority and control will vary depending on the cloud provider and its offerings. But what about authority over the network you use to access cloud resources? A carrier’s network usually won’t give you the authority to make changes.

Here’s where the issue of visibility comes in. The only way to mitigate the loss of pure authority over a hybrid network is to have visibility into the details of its performance and health. This visibility is key when troubleshooting and dealing with service providers and carriers who, when service is slow or has failed, often revert to the default answer, “Everything looks fine on this end.”

The importance of visibility

Why is visibility key? Because carriers are not always up front about what they’re seeing, or whether they’re even looking into a slowdown within your infrastructure.

Let’s say your service is not responding. A data center manager can check the internal network, and it will probably be just fine. That manager can then call the Software as a Service (SaaS) provider, who will likely say everything is fine on their end as well. The next step is to initiate a support call to the internet service provider (ISP) to find out whether or not the problem is somewhere in the middle, within the service provider’s realm.

The support person will likely say, “Everything looks fine here,” which is a challenge. Exacerbating the challenge is the federal IT manager’s inability to see into the service provider’s network.

The federal IT manager must be able to see any latency introduced by any device as packets flow through it. This information, both for the current state and historical usage, will show where the packets are going once they leave your premises, as well as how fast they’re traveling.

Complete visibility—a necessity for a successful hybrid IT transition—comes in the form of IT monitoring tools that provide a view of your entire environment: on-premises, in the cloud, and everything in between. These tools must be able to show a variety of device types (routers, load balancers, storage, servers, etc.) from a range of vendors.

Two last pieces of advice. First, be sure the IT monitoring tools you choose account for the virtual layer, whether it’s virtual servers or virtual networking, as much as the physical layer. Second, because your IT environment will only grow larger and more complex as it extends further into the cloud, the tools you select must be able to scale with the number and type of devices.

Find the full article on Federal Technology Insider.

8 Comments
Level 13

Good Article

MVP
MVP

So how is the federal IT manager any different then a non-federal IT manager in this instance ?

Level 13

I agree. All IT Managers are going to be in the same boat.

Level 13

I concur

Level 14

Yes.  It makes no difference what sector you work in.  Once you go to the cloud you will need to really up your monitoring as you will need proof of where the problem lies.  Otherwise the cloud provider and the ISP will never acknowledge that the problem lies with them.  Think broadband.  Here in the UK, when you have a problem the ISP always blames British Telecom who provide the wires and the switching network.  BT always blame the ISP and your broadband still doesn't work.  They really hate me when I tell them exactly where the problem lies (and am proven correct).   

K.I.S.S.:  The data center was the cloud, in pre-cloud days.  It was more absolutely secured, both physically and logically.  Access and data was simpler to control there.

MVP
MVP

Nice article

Aaaah! The "Not It!" game. How I hate thee so... aka, "Prove That It Is My Problem!" game where essentially you do the troubleshooting for the service owners. Good times... <shakes head ruefully!>

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.