We’re continuing our “Learning from cloud” blog series this week, and we want to start today’s post with a question that is on every IT professional’s mind:

“In a cloud first, mobile first world, how should my approach to infrastructure change?” 

When you think about the opportunity with hybrid cloud, it shouldn’t just be about adding in cloud resources.  There are fundamental strategy questions that need to be addressed in order to make the hybrid cloud model work for you.  For example, we’re hearing from customers that taking an in-depth look at individual workloads makes it easier to see where cloud could work.  A specific question, like whether cloud storage makes sense, can open up possibilities that aren’t immediately obvious when you just think generically about cloud.

Taking a big picture view means looking a three things that can make or break your approach to hybrid. First, you have to think about management.  If adding in cloud resources makes things more complicated, then you aren’t getting the full benefit of your investment.  A good management approach can simplify operations. Second, we recommend you drive toward consistency between your on-premises resources and your cloud resources.  That makes it easier to take a holistic approach to infrastructure.  And finally, you have to look at security.  Let’s consider those three things in more detail.

Management

Management is probably the most important element of a sound hybrid strategy. You don’t want to monitor and manage your on-premises infrastructure separately from your cloud resources.  When everything is in silos, you can’t:

  • Maintain an integrated view
  • Make good use of resources
  • Optimize your infrastructure approach

Microsoft System Center lets you monitor your on-premises and cloud infrastructure from a single console.  On-premises, you can monitor all the way down the stack, from the application down to the hardware, so you can isolate problems and correct issues before they impact the business.  And you can also get a great view of the health of your Azure services. Visit the Microsoft System Center web page to learn more about System Center 2012 R2 and unified management.

Consistency

Consistency across clouds is another integral piece of your hybrid strategy.  As an IT professional, you need to be able to move resources easily, and even deliver hybrid services.  That way you can access data from an on-premises database from an application running in the cloud.  And you need a service delivery approach that covers the on-premises datacenter and the cloud. Microsoft makes cloud consistency a priority in all the hybrid delivery models. You can find out more about service delivery here.

Security

Cloud security is an active concern for any organization considering hybrid models.  Security, privacy, and compliance have to be top of mind when rethinking your infrastructure strategy.  Microsoft Azure includes an array of enterprise-grade security features, including antivirus and antimalware, intrusion detection, network isolation, and encrypted communications. At TechEd this year, we also announced Express Route, a direct channel from your datacenter to Microsoft Azure.  Express Route connections do not go over the public internet, giving you added protection. We invite your to visit the Microsoft Azure Trust Center page to get more information.

Coming back to the title of our blog series, learning from cloud is a big part of what makes hybrid strategy work.  Delivering a great hybrid approach requires attention to both sides: your existing resources on-premises and your new cloud resources.  At Microsoft, we think of it as a virtuous cycle, where we learn in the cloud and bring those learnings to the on-premises datacenter, then bring our foundational knowledge of the datacenter back to our cloud services.  If you want to know more about that process, you can read our whitepaper “The Virtuous Cycle of the Public Cloud.”

Tomorrow, we’ll talk more about the concrete ways that your business can benefit from a hybrid approach.  From cost savings to increased agility, hybrid capabilities can make a measurable impact.