Optimising the Benefits of Hybrid IT
SolarWinds explains how public sector organisations can make the most of their hybrid IT investments - delivering services that are both innovative and reliable
In recent years, hybrid IT has moved from buzzword status to reality. Organisations are increasingly appreciating its value, practicality, and the potential it offers to develop new capabilities, services, and solutions. In basic terms, hybrid IT is the integration of on-premises IT services and cloud-based services, and it includes any combination of software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), or platform as a service (PaaS) solutions with traditional IT infrastructure.
In practical terms, public sector organisations around the country are using hybrid IT to deliver the performance, flexibility, and scalable infrastructure foundation necessary to meet short- and long-term IT needs. In fact, recent research has shown over half of U.K. public services use hybrid infrastructure as the government pursues a “cloud-first” approach—in response, organisations are gradually moving their infrastructure and services from on-premises venues to the cloud.
Though the versatility of hybrid IT is one of the main reasons behind its growth, bringing disparate systems together can also significantly increase complexity. For instance, many IT teams will be familiar with the challenges of troubleshooting a service outage and spending more time working out the source of the outage than taking the steps required to resolve the issue.
This is just one example of a range of challenges involved in implementing and managing hybrid IT. So how can public sector organisations make the most of their hybrid IT investments to deliver service innovation and digital transformation alongside reliability, performance, and security?
Challenges and Opportunities
Among the most common hurdles teams face in the development and integration of on-premises and cloud technologies is making sure stakeholders inside and outside of the IT team can embrace new solutions and services. Education and training play a key role in maximising efficiency, but they can sometimes be sidelined compared to other priorities, resulting in users not knowing how to properly use new technologies.
For instance, to optimise hybrid strategies, many experts advocate dividing the IT organisation into two segments: one to focus on on-premises technology and another to focus on cloud technologies. Though IT teams generally possess the technical skill to execute on these goals, wider organisational functions—such as finance, HR, and compliance—are among many people who may benefit from education about how on-premises and cloud services work in tandem.
Education and training play a key role in maximising efficiency
But one of the most important challenges to address in successfully delivering efficient hybrid IT infrastructure is monitoring. Configuring networks, moving data, and deploying services in a hybrid infrastructure is relatively straightforward, but at the same time, service monitoring continues to be one of the most critical responsibilities of an infrastructure team. Some portions of the hybrid cloud, for instance, look like traditional enterprise resources. However, the public cloud doesn’t offer insight into the physical infrastructure—in the private data centre, on the other hand, monitoring agents and integration provide detailed information about everything from the hardware to the hypervisor, the guest, and the application. Many organisations spend years mapping and perfecting these system dependencies.
A mature approach to monitoring processes and technologies enables a reduced mean time to resolution (MTTR) for services affected by infrastructure failure. Every layer of abstraction reduces the ability to correlate physical hardware failure with service availability, and adding data centre clustering solutions (such as Docker and Kubernetes) results in additional layers of abstraction and increases the importance of effective monitoring.
Implementing monitoring tools leads to a better understanding of the underlying infrastructure. For instance, architects can mine monitoring data for capacity planning, using the insight to prioritise future investment plans. In addition, monitoring tools offer the ability to plan the placement of workloads based on organisational growth and a data-driven understanding of the hybrid infrastructure.
Hybrid IT is an established and growing trend, and IT organisations now have a real choice to make—whether to embrace hybrid IT as a cornerstone of their infrastructure strategy or to view it as a stepping stone to broader cloud adoption. Whichever approach public sector organisations take, building detailed and focused monitoring capabilities into their approach can help organisations maximise system performance, reduce downtime, and plan for future requirements.
Sascha Giese is Head Geek™ at SolarWinds
Whitehall Monitor finds that DDaT profession has expanded vastly since 2016, but challenges remain in filling the biggest jobs
Civil service chief operating officer cites technology and commercial professions as among those where more skills are needed
The Matrix programme – which includes Treasury, Cabinet Office and DHSC – begins engaging with potential suppliers
Nicola Sturgeon unveils additional investment in programme run by the University of the Highlands and Islands