What is Hybrid IT?
Hybrid IT Definition
Hybrid IT involves using on-premises and cloud-based infrastructure to maintain and manage enterprises’ IT resources. The hybrid IT approach enables companies to lease IT resources from private and public cloud providers while retaining control of other resources they do not want to expose to the cloud.
In hybrid IT, systems that used to be housed within the same data center now span multiple geographies, including in-house. Enterprises can have a hybrid data center that includes legacy on-premises solutions and various private and public clouds. In this way, responsibility for managing this sprawling infrastructure remains internal or is outsourced to multiple cloud providers.
The Need for Hybrid IT in Today's Era
Hybrid IT is more critical than ever as enterprises embrace new ways of working. Digital solutions and cloud computing are vital to the ongoing shift towards remote working and making workforces more dynamic.
With a hybrid IT approach, enterprises can balance the benefits of public cloud solutions while retaining other resources within their private infrastructure. They can also seamlessly transfer workloads between cloud platforms as their needs and requirements evolve. As a result, companies gain the flexibility and security they require to meet the evolving demands of modern workforces.
Difference Between Hybrid IT and Hybrid Cloud
The terms hybrid IT and hybrid cloud are often used interchangeably. Both enable enterprises to achieve their business goals through cloud technologies, but there are key differences. Hybrid IT aims to help organizations deliver various IT resources as a service, while hybrid cloud is more focused on combining public and private cloud computing storage.
- Hybrid IT: Hybrid IT involves delivering and deploying applications, data, and services to bridge the gap between legacy and cloud services. The critical focus of a hybrid IT infrastructure is to deliver workloads—including onsite network and storage resources—across the entire enterprise as services. This enables companies to quickly and easily provide the applications and tools users need when they need them.
- Hybrid cloud: A hybrid cloud refers to an architecture in which applications and data are stored in two or more geographic locations. It typically involves an on-premises private cloud connected to one or more public clouds, which then collaborate to host applications, data, and digital services for users. These services are managed by the organization’s IT team through a shared interface.
5 Key Strategies for Successful Implementation of a Hybrid IT Environment
A hybrid IT infrastructure can become extremely complex if not managed effectively. It requires teams to collaborate to manage all aspects of the organization’s cloud-based and in-house solutions. It also requires specific skillsets that go beyond traditional IT requirements and new tools to monitor the environment.
The following five key strategies are crucial to successfully implement a hybrid IT infrastructure:
1. Use Tools for Greater Visibility
Enterprises now have access to tools that provide deep visibility into their applications and workloads. The insight they gain enables them to optimize, remediate, and troubleshoot applications wherever they are located.
2. Embrace Automation and Distributed Architectures
Managing a hybrid IT model effectively requires enterprises to be agile, cost-effective, and lean. This means moving away from traditional approaches and adopting new solutions such as application programming interfaces (APIs), distributed architectures, and microservices. Automation is also critical to moving, scaling, and remediating applications and services as required.
3. Monitor Your Hybrid IT Infrastructure
Enterprises need to maintain a holistic view of their entire infrastructure. The proactive use of monitoring solutions ensures applications and workloads are optimized and secure at all times. It also enables IT and security teams to address potential issues as quickly as possible.
4. Focus on Core Technical Skills
As organizations roll out a hybrid IT model, access to core technical skills is paramount, including knowledge of APIs, application migration, automation, distributed architectures, infrastructure monitoring, vendor management, and more. These skills and knowledge sets can be both in-house or, increasingly, through various cloud providers.
5. Business Skills Remain Vital
In addition to technical expertise, enterprises also need to remain business-savvy. They have to negotiate the right contracts, manage projects effectively, and hire employees and partners with the right skills and offers.
Business Implications of Hybrid IT
A hybrid IT approach helps enterprises standardize IT service management and governance. This allows them to take a more strategic approach to cloud computing and managing their business-critical applications and data workloads. However, there are advantages and challenges to rolling out and maintaining a hybrid IT infrastructure.
Benefits of Hybrid IT
Combining on-premises and cloud resources offers a range of benefits:
- Avoid cloud migration issues: A hybrid IT approach enables enterprises to avoid the complexity and cost of migrating legacy applications to the cloud. Hybrid IT ensures businesses do not suffer costly service disruptions and maintain control and visibility of all their systems at all times.
- A cost-effective approach: Migrating every application or workload from a data center to the cloud can be an expensive task. A hybrid IT infrastructure allows businesses to better manage their finances through subscription service models.
Limitations of Hybrid IT
Despite these advantages, there are drawbacks that enterprises must keep in mind:
- Overreliance on legacy systems: As digital innovation increases rapidly, enterprises that continue to rely on legacy solutions will be left behind. Failing to modernize applications can lead to performance bottlenecks, regardless of how well the architecture is integrated and managed.
- Hardware costs: Maintaining a hybrid IT infrastructure means organizations must continue purchasing hardware to enable their private resources. The public cloud element of hybrid IT offsets some hardware expenses, but enterprises are still likely to incur significant installation and maintenance costs.
- Visibility concerns: Maintaining multiple cloud resources can make obtaining a clear view of all environments at all times challenging. Without a full understanding of their infrastructure, enterprises run the risk of mismanaging their applications, platforms, processes, and systems, which means increased cybersecurity risks and the possibility of failing regulation compliance.
Security Challenges and Considerations of Hybrid IT Infrastructure
Moving to a hybrid IT infrastructure poses significant security challenges. One primary hybrid IT security concern most organizations have is that combining on-premises solutions with private and public clouds can introduce misuse by third-party vendors.
Moving legacy, on-premises workloads to the cloud can also introduce risks, including server attacks, data breaches, and insider threats, and power outages can result in costly downtime and data loss. A hybrid IT approach allows enterprises to maintain legacy applications that are not cloud-suitable on-premises.
Hybrid IT Management Best Practices
Some of the best practices for hybrid IT management include:
- Constantly assess the workloads of your systems: It can be easy to over-rely on either your cloud or on-premises infrastructure. Balancing their use can improve performance.
- Ensure adequate security for each environment: Assess and periodically reevaluate your security measures, keeping in mind that different environments may have unique needs.
- Choose the best cloud vendor for your needs: This may involve carefully reading the service level agreement (SLA) to ensure you have the uptime you need for smooth operations.
If you follow these best practices, a hybrid IT infrastructure can be a flexible, convenient way to maximize both on-prem and cloud resources.
How Fortinet Can Help?
Fortinet helps enterprises protect their hybrid IT infrastructures with a range of security solutions. This includes the FortiGate Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW), which provides enterprise-grade security at scale and ensures full visibility of advanced cyber threats. Fortinet NGFWs weave security deep into enterprises’ hybrid IT infrastructures to deliver consistent real-time defense and excellent user experience.
The FortiGate 3000F NGFW delivers high-speed networking, optimized performance, and enhanced scalability. This enables enterprises to monitor and manage security risks through a best-of-breed intrusion prevention system (IPS), secure socket layer (SSL) inspection, and threat protection.
What is hybrid IT?
A hybrid IT infrastructure combines on-premises and cloud-based resources. It enables organizations to retain mission-critical data in-house and move other applications to the cloud.
Why is hybrid IT important?
Hybrid IT is important because it enables enterprises to meet employee demand for digital solutions and more effective remote working. It also allows businesses to seamlessly transfer data and workloads between cloud platforms as they require.
What is the difference between the hybrid cloud and hybrid IT?
Hybrid IT helps organizations deliver various IT resources as a service and bridge the gap between legacy and cloud services. Hybrid cloud is more focused on combining public and private cloud computing storage.