Hybrid cloud strategy: 4 signs yours needs a refresh

Users grumbling about latency? Cloud bills delivering surprises? These lead the warning signs your hybrid cloud strategy needs some TLC.
332 readers like this.
hybrid cloud explained

To paraphrase a very old poem, “the best laid plans of IT leaders and architects sometimes go awry.”

Sure, the original verse concerned a mouse, but the underlying principle has become timeless: Things can go amiss with even the most carefully developed strategies.

The key then is to regularly review your plans and be willing to revise when the yellow and red flag start indicating that you might be veering off-track. This is an important principle for hybrid cloud success, too. Yes, it’s a good sign that you have a plan in the first place. But that strategy isn’t necessarily evergreen.

[ Learn the do's and don'ts of hybrid cloud: Get the free eBook, Hybrid Cloud Strategy for Dummies. ]

Hybrid cloud strategy: 4 warning signs

A successful hybrid cloud plan needs some ongoing TLC. If one of these warning signs starts flashing, then it might be time to review and course-correct.

1. Your end users are grumbling

People sometimes seem to have a natural tendency to complain. But when the volume of complaints – quantity or decibels could both apply here – starts to spike, there’s probably an underlying reason.

“The first indicator that something isn’t right is likely going to come in the form of complaints from your users,” says Scott Sneddon, senior director and multi-cloud evangelist at Juniper Networks. “Oftentimes, the additional latency that comes from running an application in a location other than on-premises will have a performance impact that’s difficult to predict.”

[TEP_CALLOUT_TEXT_RIGHT:Do you have unhappy users – of an application that never used to send many people in search of the complaint department?]

Network latency and other potential performance issues should be part of any enterprise’s evaluation of whether to migrate particular workloads to a cloud. And they’re worth continuing to keep tabs on post-migration, too. Again, if you’ve got unhappy users – especially of an application that never used to send many people in search of the complaint department – then that’s a sign that it might be time for a strategy review. That’s all the more true in the current moment.

“In this time of remote working, latency can be made even worse if end users are forced to connect over a VPN back to a central location before that traffic is sent back out over the internet to the cloud location where the application is running,” Sneddon says. “End-to-end performance monitoring is key.”

While the work-from-home context is specific to internal users, latency issues in general can also impact external or customer-facing applications.

[ Want to improve your hybrid cloud strategy? Get the four-step hybrid cloud strategy checklist. ]

2. You start to expect the unexpected in your cloud bills

Over the long haul, one or two surprises in your cloud bills aren’t always cause for immediate alarm. But if you’re regularly or even semi-regularly caught off-guard by your bills – and especially if you can’t explain why they’re higher than you anticipated – then something’s wrong.

[TEP_CALLOUT_TEXT_RIGHT:"Cloud cost control only gets harder as clouds proliferate."]

“Cloud cost control is a common complaint and it only gets harder as clouds proliferate,” says Gordon Haff, technology evangelist at Red Hat.

Haff adds that getting a handle on public cloud costs can be particularly tricky, enough so that there are consultants whose entire business is helping customers reduce their bills. But even if you bring in outside help, this is a sign that your strategy might need to be reviewed.

“IT organizations need to at least keep close watch on potentially big-ticket items like data egress, expensive resources that were spun up for some purpose and never shut down, and services running in multiple locations,” Haff says. “Billing alerts are one useful tool but, more generally, watch for costs that seem to be growing faster than the demands being put on your clouds.”

Sneddon similarly sees a skyrocketing public cloud bill as a sign that you need to revisit your hybrid cloud plan, particularly in areas like monitoring, governance, and your application’s characteristics.

“If deployments aren’t monitored, and if constraints aren’t placed around how applications are deployed, application sprawl can happen fast and costs can rise,” Sneddon says. “Network I/O and storage costs can also be a surprise if these variables associated with an application are not fully understood in advance, or are not closely monitored.”

While unexpected bills can always be a sign that it’s time to review your strategy, they can be especially important to keep a close eye on when your team is less experienced with public cloud platforms.

“These costs can be especially surprising to IT and finance departments who are used to the more predictable costs normally associated with building private infrastructure,” Sneddon says.

Let’s look at two more warning signs that deserve attention:

Kevin Casey writes about technology and business for a variety of publications. He won an Azbee Award, given by the American Society of Business Publication Editors, for his InformationWeek.com story, "Are You Too Old For IT?" He's a former community choice honoree in the Small Business Influencer Awards.