Guest Blog: The Hybrid Cloud in Practice

By Bill Suarez | December 11, 2018

I recently had the pleasure of attending and, at Markley’s invitation, the opportunity to speak at the SIM Boston Technology Leadership Summit at Gillette Stadium. It is always a great event and I was flattered by the number of attendees that chose to attend our session on the topic of putting hybrid cloud strategies into practice. Here are a few of the topics we discussed.

Hybrid cloud is usually represented by a blend of physical IT infrastructure and public or private cloud computing resources running in parallel to delivery business services. But computing environments didn’t always function in that capacity. Before the adoption of cloud, organizations operated via giant storage cabinets with power supplies, fans and memory, and communications boards. Today, smartphones have more capacity than an entire data cabinet. This is indicative of a critical industry change. We live in an instant 24/7 world. Organizations need IT environments that can expand and contract to immediately meet various needs. These needs range from rapid growth to disaster recovery and business continuity.

Colocation + Cloud

For Carbon Black, these dynamic IT demands are why we turned to a hybrid cloud model. As a Massachusetts-based company, Carbon Black originally invested with Markley as a straight- forward data center partner. We needed a place to house our data center. But over time, our relationship has evolved and changed as our needs have changed. Soon after our initial Markley investment, our company began experiencing aggressive growth. It became clear that our needs outdistanced our internal IT resources. We expanded into Markley Cloud Services, initially for short-term, large capacity, storage as a service needs. That change allowed us to rapidly meet specific project requirements and fall back when we didn’t need additional capacity.

Examining Data Needs

One of the key things to consider in your hybrid cloud strategy is that cloud is not one size fits all. At Carbon Black, we have a very large software development organization, and their data capacity needs ebb and flow. A hybrid cloud leverages your pre-existing resources and allows expansion into cloud facilities for compute, storage and communications resources in a matter of hours. Historically, it took us a few weeks, at best, to bring new technologies online. Your broadband networking strategy is of paramount importance to insure cloud resources are directly accessible from your in-house and/or co-located data centers. In addition to the benefit that cloud-based resources offload much of the maintenance of the underlying assets, it’s also valuable to avail yourself to additional high-value managed service offerings that are available from your chosen supplier.

Security, Data Protection and Disaster Recovery

Security is another critical priority to consider in choosing hybrid cloud providers and partners. In particular, one of our biggest concerns and areas of risk is the implications of multi-tenancy. How segregated is our data? How safe is our data? Are there other tenants in the same infrastructure? It is important that you evaluate vendors to confirm they have considered and built in the proper safeguards, notification mechanisms and more to help keep your infrastructure safe.

Data protection and disaster recovery are two of the more logical projects for any hybrid cloud strategy. Cloud-based backup targets and DR sites as well as dedicated, high bandwidth connectivity between our regional data centers ensure our ability to stand up our entire IT infrastructure in a matter of hours if something bad were to happen.

In addition to our active-active data center strategy, we also back up our environment to cloud-based resources and replicate to a virtual DR site within a cloud point-of-presence in a different geographic region. By architecting our hybrid cloud across three sites, we’ve been able to achieve our disaster recovery and business continuity goals at the same time.

Establish Strategic Partnerships

A key aspect of selecting cloud services vendors is the role they can play as a strategic partner. Carbon Black is a high-growth, development-driven organization with unpredictable compute, data and storage requirements. We have been focused on partnering with vendors who can strategically and tactically help us create a flexible, elastic environment and ensure critical business functions are always available. From day one, I knew our company needed cloud services vendors that were more than just someone we consumed resources from. For us, these vendors include Markley, Veeam, Dell, and VMware to name a few.