With Gartner predicting that 20 per cent of business content will be authored by smart machines within the next two years, it might come as a surprise that most businesses are only just beginning to realise the degree to which the right IT strategy and execution will make or break their business model in the coming years.

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As new and emerging technologies come to light, the infrastructure that supports these devices and applications is becoming more and more important. For many, continuing to make innovation and success a reality in 2016 will mean improving their control over cloud strategies, as deeper data insights, consolidated cloud systems and limitless test environments provide businesses with the tools to grow faster and accelerate revenues. As a result, today’s businesses are demanding an IT infrastructure that is flexible enough to cater for operational growth and reliable enough to support critical applications.

many organisations are reluctant to invest in designing, buying, building, deploying and managing the complex and costly infrastructures that are needed to support new technologies

Yet despite demand, many organisations are reluctant to invest in designing, buying, building, deploying and managing the complex and costly infrastructures that are needed to support new technologies. Outsourcing these demands to the Cloud has become mainstream, and has enabled organisations to level the playing field and punch above their weight. A prime example of how successful this approach can be is the Government’s G-Cloud initiative, a framework that promotes public sector cloud adoption. Since launching in 2012, a total of £856 million sales have taken place via the G-Cloud, allowing public sector bodies to transition towards a ‘cloud-first’ policy and shift the complexities and expenses of hardware to cloud suppliers.

Variations on a cloud

As organisations move towards the cloud, IDC predicts that Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) will be the fastest growing area of this market between 2014 and 2018. But before enterprises adopt IaaS, they need to consider how they plan to consume and use the many variations of cloud that exist.

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The private cloud is one example of a model that has evolved. Many enterprises have built their own infrastructure and automation for development and testing or running internal web services, often using new and efficient methods to facilitate it. Yet, when compared to the public cloud, it doesn’t always provide the same amount of flexibility and agility, and therefore can be restrictive for businesses.

In comparison, the public cloud has always been available as a service that can be consumed by everyone. It appeals to, and is used by, the mass market for backing-up files, streaming music and films and email services. Surprisingly, despite advocating a private solution, a lot of global organisations still adopt the public cloud in one way or another, despite concerns around security. This solution may be suitable for parts of IT, but is certainly not secure enough to provide storage for the most important and sensitive data moving across the network.

In contrast, a hybrid solution can provide the flexibility and agility of a public cloud, whilst still providing the security of a private cloud. Increasingly, it is the hybrid cloud model that will provide the foundations of the infrastructure for next generation technology. Instead of making an upfront capital investment in hardware or relying solely on existing architectures, enterprises can simply purchase more computing power or server space from their cloud provider as and when it’s needed.

enterprises can simply purchase more computing power or server space from their cloud provider

IT orchestration

As businesses drive their digital agenda towards a hybrid cloud model, they will need to be equipped with the IT infrastructure to deliver the best services available. Combining existing infrastructure with additional private cloud services, means that resources can be adapted to business requirements.

Long-term, this allows IT to evolve from backroom engineers into IT strategists that act as a vital resource to meeting business objectives and driving revenue. While 2015 was the year that the cloud evolved, 2016 will be the year that IT takes control. Having the right technology will be paramount – facilitating sales and providing a competitive differentiation by tuning, customising and integrating applications with an ever increasing precision. As the industry turns the corner to become more streamlined, safe and agile, the organisations that can fine-tune this capability and capitalise on this potential will surge ahead to success in the years to come.