Most enterprises across the globe are currently at some stage of the digital transformation journey, and there is no doubt that cloud is a key driving factor. No sector is immune to the impact of digital transformation, particularly as the influx of digital and data-driven challengers shows no sign of abating and legacy businesses find themselves forced to modernize rapidly, sometimes just to maintain their competitive position.
Enterprises face myriad challenges when it comes to moving applications and data to the cloud. On the one hand, there is increasing pressure to reap the benefits of cloud services. These include the agility to increase infrastructure capacity with no additional capital expenses and to quickly deploy new services as mandated by the business needs. On the other hand, enterprises have legacy systems and applications that cannot be virtualized or migrated to the cloud. In addition, in many sectors, such as financial services, there is a raft of governance, compliance and regulatory (GRC) requirements that impact cloud strategy.
The road ahead for enterprises is, therefore, much more complicated than simply migrating applications and data to the cloud. The biggest challenge is perhaps the additional complexity that every additional service or system will add. Within the enterprise, a hybrid IT environment has developed where public cloud and virtualized technology are used to supplement existing legacy infrastructure, and any lack of confidence in hybrid cloud is rooted in a lack of control of this environment.
Managing the cloud transition
In spite of all these challenges, the pace of change is quickening as customers increasingly demand new services at speed with absolutely no lapse in quality or service delivery. Enabling IT organizations to retain visibility into the hybrid environment, independent of cloud provider offerings, is key for service assurance. With that in mind, the cloud transition, and digital transformation as a whole, needs to be managed carefully to ensure continuation of service and the best outcomes for the business.
This is an important consideration for line of business heads, CIOs and IT operations personnel who plan, execute, manage and champion hybrid cloud initiatives. However, the overall responsibility for the cloud transition falls to the CIO, who must endeavor to maintain order and lay the foundations for the future.
The CIO must remember that successful cloud-based disruption is not only about delivering transformational customer and business services. It is about delivering them well. To have confidence in the hybrid cloud to deliver critical business functions and services, assuring the quality of the enterprise service delivery infrastructure, becomes a mission-critical business activity. However, in spite of this, many move forward with the cloud transition without a plan for visibility of the entire hybrid environment. Instead, they rely on the cloud providers.
Monitoring, control and service assurance
While cloud providers will offer sophisticated tools for monitoring performance, this refers primarily to the cloud environment itself and, to a limited extent, applications that run exclusively in the cloud. The limitation is that this will not provide analysis of the interdependencies across service chain components or visibility of an enterprise’s entire hybrid IT environment. This visibility is crucial in assuring service delivery in the increasingly complex enterprise IT environment.
To ensure this increasing complexity does not result in chaos in the enterprise during migration to the cloud, organizations must first gain insight into existing application and service performance baselines. They can then migrate applications, compute, network and storage workloads to the cloud with confidence while quickly detecting and resolving service issues without modifying their existing workflows in hybrid cloud environments. In this way, enterprises will be able to maintain business agility and assure high levels of availability, reliability and responsiveness of their digital services.
Collaboration between departments within the business is also crucial, as are key performance indicators (KPIs) when it comes to service delivery. Monitoring system-level KPIs requires access to smart data sources, such as traffic flows collected from networks and applications. An effective instrumentation of these data sources on premises and in the cloud, using both software- and hardware-based appliances, will play a key role in proactively identifying the root cause of service issues and thus rein in any potential chaos.
Enterprises must be able to gain insight into all the service delivery infrastructure subsystems and application interdependencies to establish a comprehensive view of their services, accessing both real-time and historic information. This is achieved by continuous end-to-end monitoring and real-time analysis of the traffic flows over hybrid cloud networks and applications. Only by translating real-time smart data into actionable insights will enterprises gain the confidence in hybrid cloud to realize its true benefits, both in terms of productivity and revenue.