Four tips for creating and implementing a hybrid cloud architecture

Common pitfalls of creating a cloud architecture strategy--and what to do instead.
February 22, 2023
Last updated February 22, 2023

Over the last seven years, Discover® has been undergoing a fundamental shift in how and where we deliver our critical business capabilities. Discover is a digital bank that is unique in that we offer both traditional banking products and domestic and international payments networks.

The sensitivity of the data we are entrusted with and the regulations we are subjected to domestically and internationally has made us be intentional when it comes to our cloud strategy. Neither our private data centers nor a single cloud provider was sufficient. This led to our philosophy that in order to support the business, we needed to be a fit for purpose, multi, hybrid-cloud company.

At Discover, I am an enterprise architect, so I’ve had a front row seat to the creation of our cloud strategy and the subsequent realization of that strategy. While Discover's strategy may be different than yours the lessons learned should be applicable to most cloud journeys.

1. Align your cloud strategy to your business drivers

There are numerous reasons why companies choose to adopt private, public, or hybrid cloud architectures. When thinking about what your company needs, ensure you understand your company’s unique business drivers and align your cloud architecture to support them.

An architecture that supports a worldwide music-streaming platform will fundamentally be different than an architecture that supports a financial institution. The requirements and regulations around a music streaming service and a bank are different, so understanding your businesses drivers, objectives, and users will help you choose a strategy that better meets your exact needs.

Once you understand the best path forward, find an executive champion who will help drive the vision forward with clarity and speed. Without this champion, you risk floundering for years with competing visions of the future.

2. Centralize product ownership during early phases of the strategy

Implementing your hybrid cloud strategy will require cooperation from experts across your company—and in many cases outside expertise. That’s to be expected, but be very intentional in how you organize in the early phases of your strategy buildout. Bifurcating product ownership for instance, in the early phases of the realization of the strategy will only serve to slow delivery.

We found that it worked well to centralize our product ownership in the ecosystem during the critical early phases of our move to hybrid cloud. Ensuring your teams are all aligned on the vision and tools during the early phase of your process will lead to faster and better delivery.

You can always pivot after products are well established within the enterprise.

3. Skill up and hire in

At Discover, we were moving from traditional data center management to a hybrid cloud approach, which is an entirely new way of thinking and approaching technology. While we had brilliant technologists, we did have to build time into our product roadmap to introduce individuals into new products and help them build new skills. The ramp-up times in certain areas can be long, so factor that in and be realistic.

Additionally, we budgeted to be able to aggressively hire outside of Discover for the skills that we would need to scale our strategy well into the future.

4. Decide what not to do

Moving to a hybrid cloud architecture is going to feel like a technology explosion—you are going to face a neverending barrage of vendors trying to pitch you on their tools or services. While you should periodically revisit decisions, don't get caught up in a cycle of constant analysis, this just introduce delays in delivery and prevents you from learning. Expect that over the course of your delivery you will pivot from one solution to another. That often only comes from actually trying something in earnest. This is ok and is to be expected as certain domains are at different levels of maturity.

Bottom line, create your strategy based on sound requirements, create an architecture in support of the strategy, find your executive champion, and minimize the distractions. Execute, learn, and course correct as necessary!

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