Moving to a hybrid environment, where part of your infrastructure is in the cloud while the rest of it remains on-premises, may require a far greater shift in responsibilities for the federal IT team than anticipated.
In a traditional on-premises environment, the federal IT manager needs three things to be successful: responsibility, accountability, and authority.
In a hybrid IT environment, the federal IT manager is still responsible and accountable. However, part of the cloud dynamic is that a manager’s level of authority and control will vary depending on the cloud provider and its offerings. But what about authority over the network you use to access cloud resources? A carrier’s network usually won’t give you the authority to make changes.
Here’s where the issue of visibility comes in. The only way to mitigate the loss of pure authority over a hybrid network is to have as much visibility into the details of its performance and health as possible. This visibility is key when troubleshooting and dealing with service providers and carriers who, when service is slow or has failed, often revert to the default answer, “Everything looks fine on this end.”
The Importance of Visibility
Why is visibility key? Because carriers are not always upfront about what they’re seeing, or whether they’re even looking into a slowdown within your infrastructure.
Let’s say your service is not responding. A data center manager can check the internal network, and it will probably be just fine. That manager can then call the Software as a Service (SaaS) provider, who will likely say everything is fine on their end as well. The next step is to initiate a support call to the internet service provider (ISP) to find out whether or not the problem is somewhere in the middle, within the service provider’s realm.
Personal experience says the support person will likely say, “Everything looks fine here,” which is a challenge. Exacerbating the challenge is the federal IT manager’s inability to see into the service provider’s network.
The federal IT manager must be able to see any latency introduced by any device as packets flow through it. This information, both for the current state and historical usage, will show where the packets are going once they leave your premises, as well as how fast they’re traveling.
Complete visibility—a necessity for a successful hybrid IT transition—comes in the form of IT monitoring tools that provide a view of your entire environment: on-premises, in the cloud, and everything in between. These tools must be able to show a variety of device types (routers, load balancers, storage, servers, etc.) from a range of vendors.
Two last pieces of advice. First, be sure the IT monitoring tools you choose account for the virtual layer, whether it’s virtual servers or virtual networking, as much as the physical layer. Second, because your IT environment will only grow larger and more complex as it extends further into the cloud, the tools you select must be able to scale with the number and type of devices.