How the enterprise can embrace hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud has much to offer organisations of all sizes, but enterprises in particular stand to gain so much

No longer the new kid on the IT block, cloud computing has grown and evolved as the market has, and organisations have improved their understanding of the various cloud models, their uses and advantages.  

In particular, hybrid cloud can be a tough nut to crack. Although the benefits are abundant, businesses often struggle with deciding where to start or what to do next.

But the use of hybrid cloud is growing. A recent survey from RightScale estimated that enterprises with a hybrid cloud strategy has grown to 58% this year, up from 51% in 2018, while the number of organisations with an exclusively private or public cloud has declined slightly. In addition, 28% of companies who haven't yet adopted hybrid cloud consider it a priority to do so.

But why go hybrid?

Enterprises now need to be able to securely, quickly and seamlessly move workloads, including those that are mission-critical, to and from the public cloud. 97% said this was a requirement when looking at infrastructure options.

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The enterprises of today are time-poor, information-rich and have plenty of demands to fulfil. As such, they have limited resources and must constantly balance today's business needs with tomorrow's demands and changing market landscape.

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With true hybrid cloud, organisations free themselves from the mundane and complex, allowing them to focus on their core business objectives and move from the daily grind to innovating for future success.

Organisations can extend their data centres' reach and gain many benefits with hybrid cloud, such as:

  • The ability to build and host new enterprise applications in Java-based architectures as well as being primed to benefit from next-generation, rather than just traditional apps.
  • Develop and test more efficiently: this frees up precious on-site resources, but also guarantees businesses can move forward and react to changes in the industry.
  • Ensure disaster recovery is in place for third-party backups, seasonal activity, test environments and other locations.
  • Take advantage of next-gen capabilities from key vendors' packaged apps and host in the hybrid cloud.

The first steps towards a hybrid strategy

So when it comes to realising those benefits, how do you get from A to B? 

Given all the advantages available, it's no surprise that hybrid cloud is predicted to be the dominant model used in the future, with 91% of businesses saying it is the ideal IT model.

However, there are still barriers to overcome, especially when it comes to guaranteeing the needs of the business and IT stay aligned. In the historic tech landscape, this has been a battleground with lines of technology and business personnel at odds and speaking different languages. In order to truly reap the benefits for hybrid cloud deployments, there needs to be a meeting of minds.

"Hybrid cloud helps give each group what it wants: security and control for IT operations and speed and agility for line-of-business operations," IDC said, suggesting the model is a way of bridging the gap between the tech side and line of business stakeholders.

The research house continued: "To the extent that IT can incorporate external public cloud services into formalised IT procurement, implementation, and governance processes, IT becomes a facilitator of rather than a roadblock to more dynamic business-ready IT."

Milind Govekar, chief of research at Gartner, echoed these thoughts, saying: "Many lines of business buy external cloud services without the initial involvement of, or oversight from, IT leaders. To implement hybrid cloud services successfully, IT leaders need to introduce an internal cloud services brokerage (CSB) role responsible for the governance, demand management and delivery of cloud services." 

He added: "Those who do not think and act like an external service provider or evolve into a CSB role will gradually lose the trust of business managers, who will circumvent the IT organisation in order to access the IT services they need. This will result in more disaggregation of IT services and reduced value from the remaining shared IT services."

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With this in mind, enterprises should be asking an array of questions before making the move to hybrid cloud. These questions include, but are not limited to:

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  • Who needs to be involved in the decision making process?
  • Once stakeholders are established, what will our decision-making criterion include?
  • What are the limitations and opportunities with our current IT and business setup?
  • What costs are involved (both overheads and savings)? What is the ROI?
  • Will it free up resources (tech and people) to add value elsewhere in the business?
  • What workloads can and should I move and when?
  • Which service provider should I partner with and will they still be in business a year from now?
  • Where will my data be located?
  • What about security and unauthorised access? Am I protected?
  • What are the SLAs?
  • Will I be locked in or do I have long-term flexibility?
  • Will it make business life better than it is today?

Many organisations have already navigated their way successfully through the maze of questions and possible answers to enjoy the benefits of hybrid IT and hybrid cloud. But for those that haven't, what are the blockers?

A survey from Dell and IDC found that the top reason enterprise customers hadn't adopted hybrid cloud was a lack of necessary skills and solutions. Some also said that the cost-benefit analysis didn't justify the implementation. This implies that there may also be an underlying lack of understanding of the benefits of hybrid cloud, therefore preventing investment. But as the advantages become more widely adopted by companies and costs come down, it is likely that we'll see more and more companies investing in hybrid cloud infrastructures.

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Making use of the private cloud

The move to hybrid cloud won't be an overnight success story for everyone, but businesses can expect cost savings and increased operational efficiency when it is deployed properly.

To ease deployment and more readily tap into the benefits of the hybrid cloud, enterprises can invest in the creation of a private cloud network. The private cloud is able to combine the strengths of both the public cloud, such as smooth management and usability, with the security, reliability, control, and performance associated with on-premise infrastructure. In this way, the private cloud can be viewed as a ramp leading to hybrid cloud success.

The success of this alternate strategy is evidenced by the fact that in 2019, almost 80% of IT leaders invested in the private cloud. That's according to a guide recently published by Nutanix, the hybrid cloud enabler, exposing a trend which is only expected to grow as hybrid cloud cements it's reputation. 

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Many enterprises are going one-step further, choosing to build a personalised private cloud platform that provides a snug fit to their business. Nutanix has set out a six-step plan helping enterprises go from zero to hybrid, initially creating a private cloud platform that provides the infrastructure necessary to address all applications, data, and use cases while automating mundane infrastructure management, permitting IT teams to focus on core business objectives. 

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