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Establish operational coexistence in hybrid environments

One of the most important demands of DevOps is bringing new technologies seamlessly into the fold. That means creating a culture and practice of operational coexistence.

When you get a new tech gadget, what typically happens to your old one? Often, that once-loved device is simply forgotten, as we turn all attention to our latest and greatest acquisition.

When you upgrade to a new infrastructure or virtualized network function, don't overlook the fact your existing applications and install base still exist. Simply treating them as outdated and obsolete would be a grave mistake.

A brave new world

While everyone expects the likes of Kubernetes and Docker to become part of our daily operational practice, we still face the issue that we live in a world where existing apps, networks and operational tools have to function as they always have. You need a hybrid environment centered on coexistence. In other words, as you deploy new cloud-native applications, assess how those will exist and integrate with traditional systems and customer channels. You also need to ensure backward compatibility, ease of use and smooth operation.

Over the next few years, this era of coexistence will pose an operational challenge to businesses across industries. As evidence, recent Amdocs research with Analysys Mason found that 91% of survey respondents believe operating cloud-native systems alongside traditional ones will be a critical challenge.

What does coexistence in hybrid environments look like?

Clearly, we'll coexist on many levels -- traditional monolithic applications alongside cloud-native applications, virtualized data centers alongside private and public cloud infrastructure and virtualized networks alongside traditional ones.

You need a hybrid environment centered on coexistence.

Moreover, when we look at the human aspect, employees everywhere will need to learn new skills to coexist with their current ones. They'll need to operate new technologies alongside present applications and processes.

For now, organizations invested in microservices will need to ensure a working, ongoing business environment. The question is: How?

What to consider when running in a hybrid environment

The first thing to look at when running a hybrid environment is your operations. Consider looking into lift-and-shift opportunities and areas you can containerize apps. Organizations should try to simplify where possible, converting existing applications to run within containers. This is easier said than done, in some cases. Such a process will take time and can mean retraining personnel. There might also be additional operating costs.

Next, consider how you plan to scale your apps. Are you going to use Kubernetes in a standard way, or do you need other methods and techniques? Your approach may determine the best way forward, while also setting expectations for changes in development directions and tooling costs.

Look into APIs. APIs are essential to use the knowledge, libraries and investments of R&D that go into an open platform solution. Also, consider best practices of related API technologies such as Swagger or RestAPI to open your ecosystem and ease integration.

Lastly, plan how you'll monitor and log your hybrid environment and consider using standard Kubernetes patterns, such as native Prometheus, and standard output logs.

As part of a holistic end-to-end hybrid design and architecture, you'll need to look into security and interoperability as well. These topics will determine how your organization moves forward and at what speed and agility.

Don't forget where you came from

The journey to adopt new technologies is not complete without a well-defined hybrid approach that ties together your current applications and infrastructure with the latest technologies and networks changes. The era of coexistence will likely be with us for quite some time. How do you succeed? Embrace your shiny new gadget, but don't forget about your existing systems.

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How can new and old technologies coexist in a hybrid design environment?