The steps to hybrid cloud and what benefits it can help deliver
Cloud isn’t just a passing trend, it’s here to stay – but it remains a challenge for some companies. So what’s holding business leaders back? Budget and resource constraints are often the biggest obstacles to organisations making changes to their business models – and adopting cloud at scale can be risky, and at times, a daunting process.
However, without implementing cloud at scale, enterprises will never experience the true impact, value, or even lower overheads it can offer. Traditional IT environments are unable to keep pace with the growing demands to ensure faster time-to-market and the digital innovation they need to stay ahead of the competition. And legacy infrastructure is increasingly proving expensive and time-consuming to maintain, as well as being slow and inflexible when it comes to delivering new IT developments.
Organisations that embrace digital technologies to keep pace with customer expectations will gain a significant competitive advantage over those that fail to make the necessary changes.
Embracing the cloud, why hybrid is the answer
For companies wishing to introduce cloud into their IT infrastructures, it’s recommended to start small and scale up over time. Enterprises should, gradually, take steps to adopt cloud for scalability, time to value and flexibility – while retaining valuable assets in the safety of the business’ current IT infrastructure. This configuration is commonly known as hybrid cloud. Just like hybrid cars that use electricity and petrol when power is low, hybrid cloud brings two technologies together to support each other. This allows IT teams to use on-premise systems for some tasks and cloud for others.
In 2017, enterprises will increasingly live in a hybrid IT world, split between on-premises solutions and cloud environments. It’s easy to see why hybrid strategies are on the rise; hybrid cloud enables workloads to exist on either a vendor-run public cloud or a customer-run private cloud. This means that IT teams can harness the security and control of a private cloud as well as the flexibility of public cloud services.
Recent reports have revealed that many organisations have already started to split their cloud budgets between public and private deployments, creating demand for hybrid cloud strategies that give companies greater flexibility. A recent study from IDG Research Services has shown that by increasing IT agility through hybrid cloud, digital transformation becomes faster, easier and less expensive. The survey also reveals that hybrid cloud enables accelerated and improved investment by reducing IT costs.
The four biggest benefits of hybrid cloud
Organisational requirements are constantly changing and evolving. Hybrid cloud solutions are particularly valuable for dynamic workloads; when work surges, a hybrid environment allows for quick scalability to meet these needs. These can then be scaled back to avoid over-provisioning to keep costs under control when demand drops.
Time to value
Hybrid cloud is fast and inexpensive to scale out and does not require the up-front investment in the infrastructure of private cloud. It’s no longer a case of trying to determine the maximum load; a hybrid solution allows for allocation and reallocation to meet changing workload needs as and when required – which can have a significant impact on the bottom line. Companies also need to take into account the business value of getting a revenue-generating application to market sooner.
With hybrid cloud in place, IT teams can take advantage of ‘platform-as-a-service’ (PaaS), where applications can be developed, tested and launched quickly, efficiently and securely. Simplifying and automating the IT infrastructure also increases its resiliency – reducing the likelihood and impact of business downtime. Furthermore, hybrid cloud enables organisations to create an ‘always-on’ business environment – along with the ability to make key decisions in real-time, this provides a high level of service to customers, employees and partners.
While there’s a perception that the cloud isn’t as secure as on-premises infrastructure, there is increasing evidence that public cloud environments suffer from fewer attacks and viruses than traditional IT environments. Also, security policies can be applied consistently across the standardised services – ensuring that workloads reside where they have the appropriate level of protection. Finally, with the introduction of self-service, there’s less inclination to resort to shadow IT – avoiding unnecessary security risks.
Where to start with hybrid cloud
One of the most important steps organisations need to remember is to not just look at the typical hybrid cloud definition – which tends to look solely at the infrastructure involved. Instead, they need to focus on what should be done to suit each business need; running server workloads, split between on-premise and cloud platforms, is a difficult and complex system with many moving parts that all need to be managed well.
Companies should look at hybrid cloud platforms from a Line of Business (LOB) perspective. Many services can be placed in the cloud; HR, Payroll, Customer Management Systems, Marketing and Social Media all have desirable cloud solutions, and when integrated with on-premise applications, become very productive with quicker time to value and lower overall costs.
A growing number of organisations are choosing to adopt a hybrid cloud strategy – leveraging the cost savings, flexibility and scale of public cloud services where appropriate while continuing to host the most business-critical applications on-premise. According to a Market Forecast Report for the Worldwide Hybrid Cloud Computing Market from 2016 to 2022, nearly 82 percent of enterprises will have a hybrid cloud strategy in place for 2018 – with more than 60 per cent of large enterprises planning to implement hybrid cloud by 2020.
In the next five years, we will see a strong increase in the adoption of a hybrid cloud approach to IT service delivery. Recognising the need to adopt cloud technologies alongside legacy infrastructure as a means of working smarter is one thing, but selecting the right technology and approach will be how a significant boost in productivity, innovation and the bottom line is generated.