Hybrid cloud is a common strategy that organizations pursue on their journey to multicloud maturity. It offers the flexibility, speed, and economics of the public cloud with the security and control of a private cloud. But like any business transformation, hybrid cloud migration is a challenging process that requires proper planning, policies, and implementation.
During VMworld 2020, we had the opportunity to hear from Sarah Lucas, Head of Infrastructure and Platforms at William Hill. She shared William Hill’s journey to a hybrid cloud environment, their best practices for migration, and lessons learned along the way.
Reasons for moving to the cloud
William Hill is one of the largest sports and gaming providers in the world. On a typical Saturday, over 100,000 users utilize their platform, generating nearly 6,000 gaming and trading-related transactions each second. Building upon their business in the UK, William Hill is scaling operations with new market growth in the US and acquisitions to expand their online portfolio.
Developer teams were frustrated with slow, manual processes, and the cost of additional data storage capacity was becoming too large. With at least 30 products being added or changed each month, the business demanded more in terms of elasticity, speed, and scalability.
Ultimately, William Hill wanted to reduce the scale of their on-premises data centers, add the ability to scale on-demand, and reach customers faster with new products.
Why begin with a hybrid cloud strategy?
Because industry regulations required some of William Hill’s applications and services to maintain certain jurisdictions on-premises, they chose a hybrid cloud strategy. A hybrid cloud environment provided an extension to their data center, allowing the flexibility to migrate business-critical applications to the private cloud rapidly, leverage the public cloud for on-demand scale, and extend core processes required to support their applications and infrastructure.
However, like most organizations making the move to the cloud, William Hill faced challenges along the way. Based on this experience, Sarah shared best practices and recommendations for organizations thinking about adopting a hybrid cloud and multicloud strategy, or for those who are already on their way.
Eight best practices for a successful hybrid and multicloud strategy
1. Understand your current environment
How well do you know your current environment? Before you start your cloud migration journey, take time to understand your data and applications—how they’re being used, who’s using them, what their purpose is, their limitations, requirements, etc. This information will be critical when you start to make decisions about what can be migrated to the public cloud and what needs to stay on-premises.
2. Know your legal and compliance requirements
Before migrating any resources to the cloud, make sure you understand the security protocols and compliance limitations you need to follow in each business region. Depending on the public cloud provider(s) you choose, they may have different security and compliance offerings, so don’t assume they’re all the same.
3. Act on facts, not feelings
When it comes to data and applications, don’t risk security and finances on incomplete or inaccurate information. Make sure you have complete visibility and analytics into all infrastructure in your hybrid and multicloud environments before making any critical decisions.
4. Measure what matters
Ensure metrics and KPIs point back to your overarching business goals. This way, you can track progress, iterate processes, and make educated decisions that benefit the bottom line.
5. Prioritize people and processes
The most important piece of your cloud migration puzzle is the people. How you engage and empower your teams will make or break the success of your cloud journey. When new processes and routines are implemented, take time to ensure they’re repeatable and scalable, and communicate them early and often. Be clear about how roles and responsibilities will change with the new strategy and how it impacts individuals directly.
6. Align teams from across the business
Cloud migration impacts all areas of the business. If you have a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE), they’re responsible for aligning all teams under the new strategy. Explain the challenges and benefits that will impact them specifically.
For example, your organization may need to implement a new tagging strategy that will change the way teams previously tag cloud resources. At first, it will take more time and effort to follow the new guidelines, but by doing so, the organization will be able to create accurate reports across cost, usage, performance, availability, and security. Communicating that value will ensure buy-in on the new process.
7. Be prepared for failure
In this time of change where everything is new or uncertain, failure is inevitable. Create an environment where it’s OK for people to fail as long as they learn from it. A safe environment is key to keeping employees engaged with the new strategy. Fail, learn, and move forward.
8. Share your wins
Publicize your success along the way! Little wins contribute to big success and your people will want to be part of a successful story. Because change is hard, a best practice is to connect new processes with positive results. For instance, if you’ve implemented new guidelines for tagging cloud resources, provide results showing what you’re now able to see and analyze because of those guidelines.
Planning for a multicloud strategy
Moving forward, William Hill aims to leverage services from multiple cloud providers as part of a multicloud strategy. This will take place over time, based on the ongoing adoption of cloud services that best fit their applications.
At present, the hybrid cloud model is forging a stronger, more effective bond between IT and the business, enhancing the way they differentiate themselves in the market and how they serve their customers.
To learn more about implementing a hybrid cloud strategy, see our eBook: The Enterprise Guide to Hybrid Cloud