Is your organization looking to launch a hybrid cloud deployment? If so, you’re not alone. Many enterprises are discovering the potential benefits of the hybrid environment, such as increased flexibility, scalability and lower costs. Cloud is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Hybrid clouds combine both private and public cloud services within a single environment. With a hybrid cloud environment, companies can deliver some IT resources in-house while others are provided externally.

The hybrid model delivers an added level of flexibility, enabling organizations to leverage public clouds for applications and workloads that don’t require the highest levels of security, and private clouds for those applications and workloads that are especially critical to the business and need higher levels of security. But hybrid is not just plug-and-play with pieces here and there. You first need an overarching strategy to make sure you’re adding value, not just more products. In this new five-part series, we’ll look at some best practices toward achieving a successful hybrid cloud. First: When planning a move that might be somewhat contrary to conventional wisdom: don’t start with cloud products. Although it is tempting to dive right into cloud investments to meet particular business needs or address challenges, this is typically not a good idea.

Many organizations make the mistake of developing their cloud strategy in the wrong order; they start with evaluating and purchasing products and services, and then try to figure out what the business outcomes could be from doing this. It’s a classic “cart before the horse” scenario. It makes more sense to have a comprehensive strategy and business case in place first to ensure that the organization is moving to the cloud for the right reasons, and to avoid the costly error of buying products and services that might not be a good fit for what the company is trying to achieve with hybrid cloud in the first place. That strategy should include: A clear understanding of the business outcomes you want to achieve. A definition of the portfolio of services or applications with capabilities that can deliver those business outcomes.

An understanding of the optimum mix of service delivery models that is right for your organization, based on the service requirements and desired outcomes. These elements working together can help you prepare your organization to make decisions about the products, technologies and services for your cloud environment. And each of them will be addressed in subsequent blog posts, so stay tuned.