More federal agencies are opting for a hybrid cloud environment to consolidate, modernize, and secure government systems as they realize the benefits of keeping some data on-premise while moving others to the cloud. But the move to hybrid cloud is a little more complex than a “lift and shift” that may be done when moving everything to the cloud. In a recent interview for Federal News Radio, Mike Dye, Chief Technology Officer for Civilian, NetApp U.S. Public Sector and Mark Zalubas, Chief Technology Officer, Merlin International share some guidelines and best practices for agencies moving to a hybrid IT environment.

When moving to a public or private cloud environment, you can look at the exercise as something that happens holistically and all at once, but with hybrid cloud, a layer of complexity is added. Dye says you must consider other things like “where your data is going to reside and your access patterns. Hybrid cloud creates a lot of different intricacies you may not have thought about.”

Many agencies have found that having processes in place and using checklists to better understand all the steps that need to occur is key to ensuring tasks are completed accurately and efficiently. “With hybrid cloud, you have to apply that checklist multiple times depending on how many clouds you’re moving into simultaneously,” Zalubas comments. “It could be that today your application is one place, you own everything, and know where your data is and can see it. But then, you may move to two or three locations and are still viewing the environment as a singular thing. It’s important to make sure the service-level agreements (SLA’s) for all the clouds you’ve chosen are high enough.”

At NetApp, Dye points out that their biggest concern is making sure customer data is protected, safe, reliable, and may be accessed at the right place and the right time. In a hybrid environment, he says, “SLA’s are a great launching pad because you understand the latencies you’re dealing with and how users need to get to their data.”

As with any IT infrastructure change, federal agencies must also consider what they will have in place for the future as they setup a hybrid cloud environment. When discussing the move to hybrid cloud and the future environment, Zalubas believes agencies must consider “designing with change in mind.” He says, “As you undertake new prototypes and examples, you learn things that better informs what you should do in the future. Your current infrastructure may be built on the basis of old technology which was great at the time but now native cloud applications are being born. So you have to look at everything to see if you can afford to use up the rest of your old investment because the new one offers such great performance improvement, scalability, efficiency and ease of flexibility.”

Some agencies may not be aware of what the changes imply long-term. Zalubas says you have to look at it from this standpoint: “Do we understand our customer’s applications and which pieces are important to them? You also have to look at the cloud side to understand pieces can move and which ones should not be moved. These things must be used together to create the new architecture.”

Find out how NetApp can help you protect your data as you move to the hybrid cloud here.