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5 Secrets Of Successful Hybrid Cloud Management

Cloud Managed Services - Corsica Technologies
Cloud Managed Services - Corsica Technologies

Cloud is the name of the game in IT infrastructure. Whether you engage a partner for cloud managed services or handle things in-house, cloud delivery offers certain benefits that you can’t get any other way.

But not every system is right for the cloud.

In fact, on-premises is still the right model for certain systems.

So why not get the best of both worlds?

That’s the thinking behind the hybrid cloud approach. You use the right delivery model for the right system, supporting the business in the most efficient way possible.

But that’s where the challenge lies. There’s a lot to learn about hybrid cloud management—and some of it isn’t obvious. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is hybrid cloud management?

“Hybrid cloud” refers to the practice of hosting some systems in the public cloud and hosting other systems on-premises, either on hardware that you own or in a private cloud setting. 

In a nutshell, “hybrid cloud management” refers to the administration of systems, resources, and infrastructure in a hybrid cloud environment.

Because it involves managing both public cloud systems and on-premises (or private cloud) infrastructure, the hybrid cloud approach requires a diverse range of skills. Global enterprises may have the right professional resources on staff, while midmarket organizations typically source them from a hybrid cloud services provider.

Benefits of the hybrid cloud model

Cloud hosting isn’t perfect for every use case, and neither is on premises. Both have benefits and drawbacks. Broadly speaking, cloud gives you the benefits of renting, while on premises gives you the benefits of ownership. Here’s what that looks like in detail.

On-premises benefits and challenges

On-premises delivery gives you the benefits that come with capex (capital expenditure)—i.e. lower cost of ownership over time. However, to provide remote access to on-premises systems, you have to add technologies that emulate cloud delivery. You need people on staff to configure different technologies to ensure that your workers, if remote, can get to your data easily.

That’s a hard thing to do. It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult, with lots of upkeep required.

Cloud benefits and challenges

Cloud systems are already geared toward remote accessibility. You don’t have to make significant changes on hardware to give people access. The access they need is already supported, baked into the system design.

Cloud systems also come with flexibility and scalability, allowing quick adaptation to shifting requirements. However, the bulk of the cost falls under opex (operating expenses). This means the long-term cost of ownership for a cloud system is typically higher than the on-premises equivalent.

In addition, cloud systems may come with greater default security—though they still require robust security configuration, monitoring, and management.

The key, then, is to balance cloud and on-premises systems appropriately.

Hybrid cloud benefits

What makes hybrid cloud so attractive? You get the benefits of the cloud for the appropriate systems, but you also retain the capex benefits of on-premises hardware for systems that are better hosted that way.

And of course, your team can access cloud solutions from almost anywhere. That’s a significant benefit in today’s remote work environment.

When it comes to Microsoft Azure, there’s one other massive benefit to cloud hosting: You expose your data to an infrastructure with robust cybersecurity. From a marketing and PR perspective, Microsoft cannot afford a breach. Therefore, Microsoft Azure comes with many powerful cybersecurity technologies built right in.

In an on-premises scenario, you have to research and procure the equivalent technologies yourself—then implement, support, and maintain them. This creates a significant need for professional resources, whether on staff or outsourced.

Five secrets of successful hybrid cloud management

Here at Corsica Technologies, we’ve worked with 1,000+ clients, many of whom have hybrid cloud environments. Here are the top 5 best practices that we recommend and implement for hybrid cloud success.  

Hybrid cloud consultant - Getting the thought leadership you need - Corsica Technologies

1. Get the thought leadership you need

Hybrid cloud success starts with a solid strategy.

If you have the wrong cloud systems for your strategic direction, then it doesn’t matter if you’re managing those systems well. Before you invest in a single system, you need thought leadership.

Whether this expertise comes from leadership in your organization or from a consultancy, it needs to accomplish two things.

  • Break out of legacy thinking, as required. The on-premises world taught us to think of infrastructure a certain way. If you don’t break out of that thinking before embarking on a cloud journey, you can end up trying to replicate your on-premises environment in the cloud. This is rarely a good idea. (See #3 below.) You need a thought leader who can re-envision current functions in a way that makes sense in the cloud.
  • Cut through the cloud hype, as required. Some organizations don’t have a legacy thinking problem. They have a cloud hype problem. Cloud delivery is not the be-all, end-all for every system. You need a thought leader who understands the strengths and weaknesses of the cloud and can apply that knowledge to your situation.

2. Get the buy-in of the C-suite (and avoid IT-speak)

The best outcomes occur when the C-suite has bought into hybrid cloud from the beginning.

If the C-suite doesn’t believe in it—or if they don’t understand the complexity or the business case—then they may struggle to rationalize the hybrid cloud approach when challenges arise.

So how do you get the buy-in of the C-suite?

There are two keys to success here.

  • You need to present a clear business case that doesn’t sound like IT-speak. Ultimately, the right balance of on-premises and cloud systems comes down to money, security, uptime, and accessibility. You need to understand the impact in terms of these four things for both cloud-hosted and on-premises systems—and you need to articulate the business case in language that the C-suite understands.
  • You need to communicate that these aren’t trivial moves. If the C-suite doesn’t understand what you’re saying, they may get the impression that a cloud migration is just moving data around. Yet that’s a dangerous over-simplification. The key here is for IT professionals to get better at communicating up the chain, expressing in clear language just how complex and important a migration is.

No doubt about it, each of these is a tall order. Not every organization has that cross-functional leader with experience on both the IT side and the business side.

In these cases, it’s a great idea to pull in a hybrid cloud consultant who knows both sides. The right consultant will understand hybrid cloud management in terms of both technology and the business case. That’s essential for building consensus across the C-suite and getting the solutions you need.

Forklifting servers into the cloud - Hybrid cloud management - Corsica Technologies

3. Don’t try to forklift servers into the cloud

Maybe we should’ve listed this one first. It’s one of the biggest pitfalls we see.

When you come from the on-premises world, it’s easy to think that cloud migration means forklifting your existing servers into the cloud.

Occasionally, there may be a real use case for doing this. But more often, it just doesn’t make sense—especially if that VM (virtual machine) has to run 24/7/365. Constant usage in the cloud gets very expensive, very fast.

The key here is to think outside the on-premises box.

In many cases, if the organization had some professional services they could utilize, they could decouple the application in question from its VM requirements. Suddenly you have an application that can run in a cloud service, not on a server—eliminating the dependences of a virtual machine.

That’s a powerful model. You can get the solution you need with a no-code or low-code approach within a platform like Microsoft Power Apps, which gives you all sorts of prebuilt components. Cloud technicians can assemble these components into the application you need with no coding required (or very little coding).

Hint: We love doing this here at Corsica Technologies. It’s one way we deliver the value to our clients without pushing them into custom development when it’s unnecessary.

4. Don’t bite off more than you can chew

When you don’t set expectations with the C-suite (see #2 above), a disconnect arises. Without nuanced communication, the 30,000ft view can create the impression that cloud migrations are easy. Consequently, the C-suite builds out a roadmap for rapid, all-encompassing cloud migration.

That’s incredibly risky.

In reality, hybrid cloud implementations can disrupt operations if they’re not planned and managed carefully. You’re dealing with business-critical workflows that directly impact the end user’s workday. It’s essential to move slowly and set clear expectations with end users.

So how do you manage a move to hybrid cloud?

Ideally, you do it in bits and pieces. One system, one process at a time—following a clear roadmap. Realistically, it could take a year, 18 months, or 2 years to complete your move to hybrid cloud.

Hybrid cloud security - Benefit to on premises security - Corsica Technologies

5. Leverage cloud systems for greater on-premises security

Here’s one great thing about the hybrid cloud model. Sometimes you can leverage cloud security measures to strengthen the security of your on-premises systems.

For example, let’s say you’re implementing Microsoft Entra ID in Azure. This is Microsoft’s cloud identity and access solution that’s integrated into your Azure environment. While it’s cloud-native, each account in Active Directory (on premises) can be connected, or “hybrid joined,” to the corresponding account in Entra ID.

Now both Active Directory and Entra ID are keeping track of a user’s actions.

That sounds like unnecessary duplication—until you consider this: You can install a cybersecurity agent called Microsoft Defender for Identity on your on-premises servers. This application copies things like on-premise access logs back into Microsoft’s SIEM.

Now Azure has visibility into on-premises activity through that joined user identity.

This is significant because we’re seeing a new cybersecurity trend emerging. Threat actors are realizing it’s often a waste of time to attack Microsoft 365. They won’t get anywhere with that, but they can attack an on-premises system that might have a link to Microsoft 365. If they can tease out a user’s on-premises credentials, there’s a good chance those credentials will work in Microsoft 365.

With Microsoft Defender for Identity in place, plus an integrated SIEM, you get instant visibility into this type of activity—which means you can shut it down ASAP.

Hint: If you don’t have the staff capacity to handle cybersecurity like this, you should look for a combined MSP (managed IT services provider) and MSSP (managed cybersecurity services provider). A partner like this will integrate cybersecurity monitoring and remediation into your hybrid cloud managed services, which is essential for keeping you secure.

Challenges of managing a hybrid cloud environment in-house

The biggest difficulty here is keeping everything straight in your own mind.

How does the system work today?

Where should new users be created? We’ve drawn a line in the sand after implementing Entra ID (for example), but are we abiding by our own rules?

How are we allocating and managing hybrid cloud resources?

Does every user have the right permissions and licensing? (This is significant because in a cloud system, user tiers often come with specific features that the end user may or may not need. Getting that cloud licensing right, at scale, is a little more complicated than on-premises licensing.)

A larger challenge looms over daily operations in a hybrid cloud environment. It’s the big question: “Where are we going strategically? What will we need from our hybrid cloud environment, and when will we need it?”

For these reasons and more, midmarket organizations often turn to a service provider to manage their hybrid cloud environment.

Hybrid cloud managed services provider - What to look for - Corsica Technologies

What to look for in a hybrid cloud managed services provider

As you can see, hybrid cloud management requires a dedicated team. Yet many midmarket companies don’t have that team on staff. Their IT team has their hands full with daily operations—and let’s not even talk about cybersecurity.

A full-service MSP/MSSP can help—but not all such companies are created equal. Here’s what you should look for.

  • A provider who puts cybersecurity first.
  • Lots of hybrid cloud clients.
  • Experience in your industry.
  • Deep knowledge of your tech stack.

Moving forward: Getting the hybrid cloud managed services you need

Hybrid cloud management doesn’t have to give you headaches. With the right strategy and professional resources in place, your organization can get the best of both worlds—which is only possible with hybrid cloud. The key is to find a trusted partner who can handle your hybrid cloud management from top to bottom. From strategy to execution, cybersecurity monitoring to 3-year technology roadmap, you deserve a partner who has your back.

That’s what we’re all about here at Corsica Technologies. We bring cybersecurity and hybrid cloud management under one roof, delivering the integrated strategy and services you need. We also handle digital transformation and data integration, giving you one provider to assist with all your technology needs.

Want to learn more about hybrid cloud management?

Reach out to schedule a consultation with our cloud specialists.

Nate Troyer
As Sales Engineer at Corsica Technologies, Nate connects deep expertise in technology with the tough challenges that our clients face. He has served in diverse roles such as DevOps Engineer, Advanced Integration Consultant, and NOC Manager, bringing a wide skillset in storage, servers, data center management, Cisco Systems products, and operations to every client project.

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