Sep 11 2023

Automation Unlocks the Value and Power of Hybrid Cloud

To optimize a hybrid cloud architecture, experts recommend automation for its simplicity, scalability and flexibility.

At Cisco Live 2023 in June, Liz Centoni, chief strategy officer and general manager of applications at Cisco, proclaimed hybrid cloud and multicloud the best approach for institutions operating today. But just what do IT leaders mean when they refer to hybrid cloud and why are they singing its praises?

Many leading IT companies define hybrid cloud similarly. “Hybrid cloud integrates public cloud services, private cloud services and on-premises infrastructure, and provides orchestration, management and application portability across all three,” IBM notes on its company website, adding that “hybrid multicloud is hybrid cloud that includes public cloud services from more than one cloud service provider.”

Many schools have already made the move to the cloud in some capacity. In a recent EdTech poll published on X (formerly Twitter), more than 50 percent of respondents said they are using the cloud as their primary method of data storage.

Describing the advantages of hybrid architecture, IBM notes, “Hybrid cloud and hybrid multicloud help organizations achieve their technical and business objectives more effectively and cost-efficiently than public cloud or private cloud alone.”

NetApp offers a similar definition: “Hybrid cloud refers to a mixed computing, storage, and services environment made up of on-premises infrastructure, private cloud services, and a public cloud — such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure — with orchestration among the various platforms. Using a combination of public clouds, on-premises computing, and private clouds in your data center means that you have a hybrid cloud infrastructure.”

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Is It Better to Adopt Hybrid Cloud as a Wholesale Philosophy?

CDW recognizes a similar understanding of a hybrid cloud environment and calls the concept a foundational philosophy.

“Running a hybrid cloud effectively requires adoption of patterns and practices that are consistent across whatever platform best suits the application and workload, whether that’s on-premises, in a public cloud or across multiple clouds,” says Chris Gibes, manager of the hybrid infrastructure technology practice at CDW. “In practice, this means aligning operations, organizations and processes to common frameworks and principles.”

Gibes says that CDW’s Unified Cloud concept “starts by changing the way your IT organization operates in addition to automating your on- and off-prem workloads.” 

It’s part of a digital transformation effort that leverages platform engineering to transform previously manual tasks into automated tasks and traditional infrastructure into immutable infrastructure.

“With CDW Unified Cloud and platform engineering, your on-prem data center is now unified with a public cloud provider versus two separate and distinct environments,” Gibes says. “Service delivery is now placed either on-premises or in a public cloud. You’ve increased your flexibility, and your technical service delivery model is based on business and financial drivers versus technology.”

DIVE DEEPER: Discover the basic steps to optimize your hybrid cloud environment.

How Automation Can Better of Hybrid Cloud

Andrew Fanning, enterprise architect at CDW, says institutions must leverage automation “to bring some of the promises of the cloud back into an on-premises, and therefore hybrid, world.”

In a hybrid cloud environment, automation can act as the translator, Fanning says. “If I need to deploy on-prem versus the cloud, I can hide some of that in code behind automation, and automation can lead to a more seamless way for the end user to request services, regardless of the location.”

Data Storage Sidebar


Fanning and Neil Graver, executive technology strategist at CDW, cite the automation tools Ansible and TerraForm, which are currently dominating the automation market. Both offer tremendous mutability and flexibility, they note.

Fanning explains that the first step of any automation journey is to automate from “on-prem all the way through data ops, taking advantage of your data. I think we’ve come a long way in that first step, adding a number of resources such as Infrastructure as Code and really automating what’s on-premises to start that foundational journey of flexibility. And we should lean into that.”

Take the journey toward data center modernization for your K–12 school.

Illustration by Sey Yassine

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