Many organizations in Singapore have begun embarking on their cloud journeys in recent years. They began by running their testing and development workloads in parallel with the deployment of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, from CRM solutions to office productivity solutions, for email and messaging. Analysts now estimate that 65% of enterprise workloads is still in on-premise data centers. However, we have since seen a notable shift towards off-premise IT Infrastructure as the primary or supporting environment, a trend which is even more pronounced in larger Enterprises.
There are several motivating factors behind why businesses move their data to a multi-cloud environment. One core driver comes down to the costs associated with the maintenance of legacy infrastructure, particularly in the event of a data center consolidation project. When organizations are procuring and architecting infrastructure for peak workloads, it makes more commercial sense to procure assets for steady-state workloads and burst into cloud for peaks. This can commonly be seen within retail, where organizations jump into the cloud during the peak of the Christmas season as they scale outward.
Another key reason for developing applications in the cloud is agility. If businesses want to get a product to market as quickly as possible, they need to unlock the benefits of the cloud as a data storage solution. Financial institutions are a great example of this. Since the birth of the neobank, traditional banks have had to innovate rapidly in order to maintain market share. They’ve achieved this by deploying mobile applications, developed in a cloud-native architecture, but which are connected to back end core banking platforms running on-premise.
The dawn of the hybrid-cloud
There’s no doubt that enterprises have matured along the journey towards cloud adoption. Hybrid architecture is becoming increasingly visible across organizations today, with multi-tier applications running on physical or virtual on-premise assets. Some of these applications are even being lifted and shifted into service provider clouds or hyperscalers like AWS and Azure. This, combined with an increased number of new applications being written in cloud native architectures, means customers are faced with the challenge of managing these platforms and protecting critical data.
One school of thought centers on investing in point solutions to back up hybrid infrastructure platforms. However, with multiple tools and skillsets in mind, this method poses its own challenges. On one hand, the underpinning infrastructure is an expensive interface for the application and data to reside on. So, what’s the alternative to point solutions? Either businesses invest in a platform that enables cloud mobility, allowing not only easy portability and recovery but also the movement of critical applications and data to or from the cloud, facilitating true workload mobility.
Step away from the one-size-fits-all approach
With organizations right-sizing infrastructure platforms to align with application and data requirements, businesses are facing the challenge of retrieving the availability to applications driving digital services. If these applications malfunction, companies could face a significant loss in revenue and irreparable damage to their brands.
Businesses must have visibility over where these applications and data reside and on which infrastructure platform they sit. Without this knowledge, it would be impossible to truly identify how many moving parts there are, and more importantly, understand the dependencies of these components.
When it comes to off-premise infrastructure, it is important to identify the roles and responsibilities of such platforms. For standard cloud-delivered infrastructure, it is important to understand the extent to which layers are managed. For example, some providers manage, patch and back up data till the virtualization layer while for others, it’s presented as a service catalog item that gives users the choice to “opt-in” for workload backup, or to utilize their own backup products to recover and protect their data.
When it comes to SaaS platforms, a different set of parameters need to be identified as software vendors typically offer at least 99.5 percent availability as part of their Service Level Agreements (SLAs) guarantee. Although data security solutions are usually included in cloud service provider packages that host SaaS platforms, companies should continue to pursue features like periodic backups and regular audits. It bids well to remember that governance in information security is a pitted race against hacking tactics that are constantly being developed. However, the most important question is: Who is ultimately responsible for protecting the data residing in applications?
Practicing responsible usage of the hybrid-cloud
While cloud providers assist with security by keeping underlying systems secure, organizations are still responsible for ensuring proper configurations and governance. Consistent, proactive monitoring is needed across cloud services, keeping in mind the larger goal of meeting business and customer demands without worrying about data breaches.
Multi-cloud is slowly becoming the default, and there are several things to keep in mind when rolling this out across business practices. Most importantly, organizations must be prepared to adapt their strategies in accordance with the ever-changing and evolving market landscape.