One organisation Roberts dealt with seriously considered a hybrid deployment. “When we spoke more about their goals and drivers, we came to the conclusion that they were not especially interested in managing a private cloud and would instead like to focus on a SaaS [software-as-a-service]-first, multi-cloud deployment, leveraging multiple public clouds instead of public/private,” he says.
The reason was that the overhead and effort required to manage both public and private clouds and interoperability between them was not worth it, given the organisation’s overall goals, Roberts says.
“The case might be different for organisations with regulatory requirements that force them to keep some data/workloads on-premises, or those who need the performance they can only get from local services, but want to take advantage of the inherent characteristics shared by the public and private clouds,” Roberts says.
Change in mindset
As with most major technology shifts, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when moving to a hybrid cloud environment is the need for a mindset shift, Hu says.
“We had to ensure the businesses bought into the value of moving to a hybrid cloud environment,” Hu says. Even the IT department had to be sold on the idea, he says. “We had to start with ourselves; IT wasn’t totally convinced at the outset that this was the right direction,” he says. “That quickly changed.”
Lenovo started by piloting some “lighthouse” applications via a hybrid infrastructure and was immediately able to demonstrate clear value, Hu says. “Engineering productivity improved by 65 per cent, thanks to the agile practices enabled by the cloud platform and tools,” he says. “Once we saw the significant value, we were able to successfully ‘evangelise’ to the rest of the company, and we continue to showcase impressive results.”
Lack of standards or established practices
Although cloud services have been in use for years, a wholesale move to a hybrid cloud infrastructure is still uncharted waters for lots of organisations. “Because this was new territory for Lenovo, we knew we needed to establish clear standards for moving to the cloud and provide best practices,” Hu says.
To address this, the company published clear guidance on how to choose the right cloud hosting environment, for private cloud, public cloud, or hybrid. “We made this selection part of every application’s enterprise architecture review,” Hu says.
The company also established a “5-R Migration Approach” that helped application owners determine their best path based on the application’s current architecture state. This includes rehost (directly redeploy to cloud); refactor (modify architecture to adapt to the cloud); revise (modify or extend existing code beyond architectural modification); rebuild (discard the existing technology and develop from scratch); or replace (sunset the existing application and adopt an alternative solution).
Lenovo also developed application-level best practices for groups to reference, Hu says.
“Vendor selection and management is one of the thorniest topics for enterprises moving into hybrid cloud today,” says Chris Kanaracus, research director for dedicated and hybrid cloud infrastructure at research firm IDC.
“That’s because there’s a lot of choice, which is a good thing, but the signal-to-noise ratio is getting higher all the time,” Kanaracus says. “You have the well-established leading hyperscalers with AWS, Microsoft, and Google. But up-and-comers such as Oracle are making aggressive moves around cost and capabilities to grow share.”
Other choices include Cisco, VMware, HPE, and IBM, “who have made pivots toward hybrid cloud,” Kanaracus says. “They see an opportunity to provide the on-premises and edge components of hybrid cloud working in conjunction with the hyperscalers. But the hyperscalers want that business too, evidenced by AWS Outposts, Azure Stack, and Google Anthos.”
Also, telecommunications companies and colocation providers are getting more into the mix, Kanaracus says. “It’s just a lot to conceive of and manage from a CIO’s perspective,” he says.
“Cost monitoring and management is already critical in hybrid, and this will only be a bigger deal going forward. Lots of vendors, large and small, are eager to be in this game. [There] are lots of choices for CIOs and thus the potential for confusion and missteps. It’s important to take this area of investment very seriously.”