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Azure Stack – how does true hybrid cloud change the paradigm?

  • Posted on October 17, 2017
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
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A quick search of the internet for “hybrid cloud” will provide TONS of results and the definitions are anything but consistent. So, let’s level set by establishing what I think are a few key characteristics of “true” hybrid cloud:

It is software defined. Some think this is marketing hype and an overused term, but really it’s about being able to provision, operate and manage your resources through an API.
It runs on commodity hardware - nothing fancy; it’s just hardware.
It provides a consistent user experience and tool set across public and private, whether you’re a developer or IT person

Defining hybrid cloud is one thing – achieving it is a little more challenging. Let’s face it, the real world is messy. Not every workload is ready to go to public cloud or private cloud for many potential reasons. This is true regardless of your industry. Furthermore, not every IT department, team or user is ready to move to a cloud operating model. In other words, there’s a BIG people component to making this transition to cloud and it’s every bit as critical to your success as making the technical transition.

How does Azure Stack change things?
First, let me say that not everything fits neatly on Azure Stack or Azure. Sometimes you need to get creative in how you leverage hybrid capabilities that best support your business. You may be running large clusters in your datacenter and it’s not practical right now to rebuild them or move them to cloud. You could run those clusters alongside cloud applications in Azure Stack. You can connect current datacenter resources to newer cloud applications running on Azure Stack, if you don’t have an immediate need or want to move them to cloud. This is just one example of how Azure Stack can help you “bridge the gap” between traditional and cloud. You can also do things like run container technologies such as Docker making it possible to clone and migrate workloads such as an existing SQL database to Azure Stack for better efficiency.

Azure Stack provides an Azure consistent experience in your own datacenter. If your organization is new to cloud, you could begin to ease them into operating in a could model by using Azure Stack for transitive workloads around development and test without feeling like you must go “all in.”

Some real-world examples
As a global Systems Integrator providing cloud transformation services, Avanade works with clients in many different industries helping them address challenges in getting to a more agile cloud operations model, especially when “all public” or just traditional won’t work. Let’s walk through a couple brief examples where Azure Stack can help address those challenges. 

In the Healthcare Industry, client concerns usually crop up about production workloads and sensitive proprietary data residing in public cloud. This client might also want to rebuild/modernize their primary revenue generating application to run on as a cloud application for better performance and reliability. However, in addition to their concerns about security, they want to optimize connectivity and performance for customer using their applications to sign-up for their Healthcare plans. If there are no Azure datacenters in their primary customer regions, then performance and connectivity might not be ideal. A good solution to this problem might be to run their new application on Azure Stack instances hosted in key customer regions. This could ease their concerns about security, plus optimize connectivity and performance.

Mining and natural resources operations tend to be distributed in remote locations around the globe where internet and network connectivity are challenging at best. However, these mining operations could benefit from modern applications that can leverage data analytics to help improve safety and efficiency. Furthermore, there is likely a need for a mobile applications component to support heavy equipment operators and those transporting resources. In this situation, Azure Stack could be deployed locally to host things like localized analysis of data and host of connected mine applications. Key data could still be periodically synchronized with Azure, as needed. However, applications like SharePoint and Exchange could also be run locally for better mine collaboration and communication, plus actionable data would be available on mobile devices for better on-site efficiency

What’s next?
There is no one size fits all when it comes to harnessing cloud technologies to grow your business. One thing is for sure though - it’s a hybrid world and it will be for quite some time. The key to success will be to work through the complexity by leveraging the right platforms, tools and expertise to help you achieve your goals. As the Microsoft Azure Alliance Partner of the year, we can help you achieve success. 

Visit our Azure Stack website and see how we can help you achieve true hybrid cloud.

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