Cloud Technologies are reaching a level of maturity that now makes them a viable option. Vendors have been developing their Cloud Services and are starting to experience growth in the uptake of these services. Many small businesses are now using Cloud Services in some form. However, in our experience many small businesses are not comfortable or ready to relinquish total control of their IT to Cloud Providers. The Hybrid Cloud Solution, offers a compromise for small businesses, a stepping stone to the Cloud.
A Hybrid Cloud Solution uses a local server to maintain control over particular IT functions within the organisation and move other services to the Cloud. The services that we usually keep local are active directory (security), file and print services, application platform and backup solutions. Applications that operate well from a Cloud Service are mail servers, shared data storage, web based applications and collaboration technologies. A good example is Office 365 – Microsoft’s Cloud solution. Office 365 offers full enterprise e-mail functionality through Microsoft Exchange, collaboration technologies using Microsoft Sharepoint and online Storage using Skydrive Pro. A Hybrid Cloud Solution minimises the impact that moving to the cloud will have on a business and maintains centralised control over the company’s IT.Often, the initial driving force of the decision maker for cloud adoption is the perceived cost saving. We are of the opinion that overall computing costs are not reduced for small businesses, but Cloud Solutions can lower the barriers of entry to new technologies, which are often quite high. Choosing the right IT Partner is essential when moving services to the Cloud. The change has to be carefully managed to reduce the impact on employees and business processes. Security could be compromised and accessibility to company data could be impeded through bad design and improper implementation.
According to analyst firm Gartner, half of all large enterprises will adopt a Hybrid Cloud Solution in the next four years.
Moving to a Cloud Solution requires careful planning and preparation. Unfortunately, Hybrid Cloud implementations are not an off the shelf solution. The process requires a higher level of engagement from the client compared to traditional on-premises server solutions usually require. Business processes that have evolved around current IT environments will need to be adapted and adjusted to accommodate the changes, which takes time and careful planning.