Push came to shove with disruption and innovation during the pandemic. Enterprises started leveraging new technologies to gain competitive advantage, enter new markets, support employees from home and maintain business continuity.
As a result, IT is faced with new challenges that are critical for realizing the value of the digital transformation that started and accelerated during the pandemic.
To state the obvious, CIOs must manage an IT infrastructure that’s safe, sound and secure. This was tough enough when IT operations remained exclusively on-site or in a private cloud. However, when organizations started migrating workloads to public clouds, hybrid-cloud environments materialized, making the IT infrastructure even more complex.
Furthermore, some organizations moved past hybrid cloud into multi-cloud environments, using public cloud services from multiple providers. Organizations adopted multi-cloud environments based on specific business lines or workloads to meet data governance requirements (such as EU’s GDPR) or to simply avoid vendor lock-in.
Multi-cloud instances also happen by default when a business unit in an organization purchases a cloud service independently without the knowledge of IT.
Why hybrid cloud adoption is accelerating
Now that we know how hybrid and multi-cloud environments come about, let’s assess why their adoption is accelerating today. Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments have become key ingredients in business transformation and innovation.
An IBM report states, “a hybrid cloud approach yields 2.5x more value than the use of a single public cloud alone.” One of the top reasons enterprises use multiple clouds is vendor-specific capabilities. Cloud provider differentiation has also moved into high-level managed services from simple compute and storage features.
Another reason for hybrid and multi-cloud adoption can be cost. Picking cloud services for specific workloads based on price can bring down the overall cost of the cloud. Better performance also yields cost savings, so faster computing time when paying by the minute can bring down the cloud expense.
Several other use cases for multi and hybrid-cloud environments include:
- Capabilities to extend the IT capacity of on-premise infrastructure without upfront capital expense.
- Off-site location for backup/disaster recovery/business continuity.
- Enable workload components to operate in different environments.
- Centralized data repository for applications/business processes running in different IT environments.
Over 97% of organizations today operate on more than one cloud platform to leverage the several benefits of hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructure.
Challenges and Complexity of Hybrid Cloud Environments
While hybrid cloud environments further business innovation and transformation, they create hurdles for IT. Here’s an overview of the challenges and complexity of hybrid and multi-cloud environments from an IT operational perspective.
As per an IDC report, as mission-critical workloads increasingly shift to connected cloud architectures across public, private, hybrid and multi-cloud, enterprises realize the need to invest in tools that help ensure consistent policies and performance across platforms and end users.
Another report found tech professionals have low confidence in their organization’s ability to manage IT. A staggering 54% of respondents said they used monitoring strategies to manage this complexity, while 49% mentioned they lack visibility into most of their applications and infrastructure.
This lack of visibility impacts anomaly detection, timely root cause analysis, and other critical IT processes that ensure business-critical applications and services are available, secure and robust.
Here’s an overview of the challenges organizations face in maintaining IT operations with hybrid and multi-cloud adoption-
- Lack of visibility – A complex hybrid cloud environment reduces visibility into the happenings in IT. Traditionally, teams had easy access to all IT components and could query them to learn their state at any moment. For IT components in a public cloud, you rely on data presented by the vendor whenever it arrives. Traditional monitoring tools render helpless here as they aren’t flexible or quick enough to contribute in a hybrid IT environment.
- The complexity of IT – The complexity of hybrid and multi-cloud approaches compels organizations to change their approach to security. “You can’t secure what you can’t see” holds especially true in hybrid cloud architectures. Observability quickly becomes a challenge, followed by incident management and root cause analysis when the IT infrastructure isn’t within arm’s reach.
- Lack of security expertise – When security needs to be ensured in a siloed and complex IT environment, you need the right sets of hands. There is a known and documented talent shortage in cloud security. It takes a focused effort for an organization to find the people to secure their complex cloud environment. And yet, any amount of manual effort may not be enough for such complex IT.
- Regulatory compliance and legal issues – When considering moving critical workloads to the cloud, one of the primary concerns is regulatory compliance, followed by legal concerns. Compliance and audit preparation can become a hefty undertaking with a complex cloud infrastructure.
- Network protection incompatibilities – In the purview of network security, existing vendor tools may or may not work well with public clouds. Organizations employ containers to transit to hybrid cloud, but a lack of understanding of nuances like service mesh and API security can lead to security exploitation. Therefore, vendor analysis is vital when shifting to a hybrid cloud arrangement.
- Dispersed logging and monitoring – A hybrid cloud environment can quickly lead to unstructured and dispersed heaps of log sources across on-premise systems, vendor tools, public cloud and cloud-native services. When this happens, it becomes challenging for organizations to consolidate log telemetry and create key performance indicators and baselines for reporting and analysis.
How AIOps Can Redefine Hybrid Cloud Management
Hybrid cloud infrastructure offers a myriad of benefits- adaptability, scalability and reliability- albeit at the cost of complexity. The complexity arises from the array of components placed at different locations. And the cost of the complexity is in the losses in transitions amongst these components- loss of accuracy, efficiency and the exact benefits that compelled you to sign up for hybrid cloud in the first place.
This is where artificial intelligence steps in to identify patterns and anomalies buried in the complexity beyond the scope of human capabilities.
For instance, organizations often have mission-critical workloads on-premises and build the hybrid model, knowing some components will stay put. A potential transition concern can arise when an on-premise data center has assets in one location and relies on interdependencies with other applications within the system that need to be moved to the cloud.
AIOps helps better plan for multi-cloud if you aren’t already using the modern architecture by offering visibility into interdependencies that may cause concerns down the line. AIOps assists in automatic dependency mapping, allowing organizations to plan for any infrastructural change without risking continuity.
Furthermore, AIOps streamlines operations with unified visibility and automated incident detection and resolution, allowing organizations to not worry about the day-to-day aspects of IT management and, instead move toward innovation and change planning.
Modern IT concerns are too complex to unearth without AIOps, which can cut through the dispersed heap of log files, find the source of a problem and even suggest the first set of actions.
AIOps proves necessary, if not critical, when adopting a hybrid cloud IT environment.