What Is Hybrid Cloud?
Quite simply, a Hybrid Cloud is any infrastructure mix that includes at least one external option beyond your on-premise data centre deployments. It can include data centre co-location, managed services and cloud offerings.
Hybrid Cloud enables companies to not only aggregate, unify, and scale services, but also do the same to their functionality, creating powerful and highly responsive infrastructure capabilities.
Although it is sometimes confused with hybrid cloud, the two are not synonymous. Hybrid cloud, a combination of private and public cloud offerings, is a subset of the larger Hybrid Cloud strategy.
How a “Mix and Match” Approach Enhances Agility
Many internal IT teams are taking a fresh look at their technologies and services – to determine what makes sense both short- and long-term. They want to leverage current assets, as well as maintain tight control over certain processes and systems, but are open to other approaches that meet business needs.
While cost concerns predominate, outsourcing isn’t about slashing and burning IT costs, it’s about leveraging savings to fuel business initiatives, while optimising the IT infrastructure
Moving to a Hybrid Cloud approach solves many challenges for companies. It enables them to assemble a truly custom infrastructure, service and delivery model for their company that can be changed at any time to meet changing market and business conditions.
In this model, IT obsolescence risk is no longer a concern because IT teams and their partners are rolling out innovations on an ongoing basis.
Hybrid Cloud Enables Companies To… Run the Business
Offloading key services such as hosting, security, server virtualisation and more to enable internal teams to focus on higher-level initiatives enables companies to drive down costs, while optimising critical operations.
Hybrid Cloud Enables Companies To… Grow the Business
Developing and deploying new applications, migrating workloads to private or hybrid clouds and implementing new tools to accelerate time to insight enables companies to accelerate digital product and service development, moving past the barriers of time and cost imposed by on-premise data centres and allowing them to shift valuable resources from maintenance to innovation
Start with the Strategy
As companies begin their Hybrid Cloud journey, it pays to start at the top: with your company’s business strategy and goals. Knowing the Why of your company’s future helps determine the Who, What & Where of your IT infrastructure approach. To put it more precisely, you can define who should own, operate, and manage your platforms and applications based on the strategic goals of the business. When companies begin their Hybrid Cloud journey, it pays to start at the top: with your company’s business strategy and goals.
This path is simpler than it sounds. By answering just four questions, you can begin crafting a Hybrid Cloud approach to meet your company needs.
- What are the top business drivers for transforming your IT infrastructure?
- Who will manage the new model?
- Where will the infrastructure be located?
- What compute models will it include?
So Why Embrace Hybrid IT?
While there are a wide number of business drivers for Hybrid Cloud strategies, the simple answer is that they give internal IT teams much-needed flexibility – in business, technology, and cost – to achieve growth objectives.
Many companies now realise that, while they operate data-driven enterprises, owning and operating their entire data infrastructure is not their core competency. After tens of millions dollars in capital expenses and years of planning to open a modern data centre, the company begins to carry the burden of significant equipment, staffing, and facility costs and considerations.
However, the reality is that most companies already have data centre assets they need to leverage. Although these centres are often five to ten years old, they still have a usable lifespan and are a key part of companies’ IT strategies for the next few years.
To further complicate operational challenges, many companies are finding it difficult to hire – and retain – the skilled workers they need to service their infrastructures. Competition is fierce for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) workers and traditional industry companies are going head-to-head with SaaS upstarts and brand names for top talent.
Outsourcing IT functions can provide companies with new:
- Higher Service Levels
- Cost Savings
That’s critical, as one in two companies will see network loads double in the next two years.
Companies need to move now, as the market doesn’t allow for any latency when it comes to innovation. Continual disruption is now part of every enterprise’s playbook.
So How Are Companies Adopting Hybrid IT?
A common path for many companies is to evolve their approach to outsourcing: Using co-location facilities and implementing in-house private clouds to gain experience before adopting more managed services.
Others may sample individual outsourced services before bundling more together or moving to an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) or Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) model.
This approach can move as slowly or rapidly as a company needs. However, many are fast tracking this process to gain experience with outsourcing the right functions.
While some companies will choose to work with multiple providers, gaining significant competitive advantage will likely require consolidation of critical services with a best-of-breed provider. It’s not enough to just outsource.
Companies must also simplify IT infrastructure design and delivery to be the quick-change artists the market requires.
Moving to a cloud-first model – while still a visionary ideal – will become a reality for many over the next few years. While on-premise private clouds rule the day, adoption of public cloud offerings will increase for specific workloads. Low-cost, consumption-based pricing; easy access and on-boarding and constantly evolving options will prove a compelling lure to many.
Outsourcing: Business and IT Organizations Are In This Together
While each company is unique, some common themes emerge when companies consider outsourcing their IT infrastructures.
Business and IT teams are partnering together for game-changing initiatives such as big data analytics, real-time product design and pricing and operational improvement initiatives. They’re also helping their companies become social, mobile, cloud-elastic businesses to get closer to their customers.
Companies need IT infrastructures to bend and flex with them, which typically means outsourcing services, whether it is managed hosting for transaction-intensive businesses, cloud services for workloads or application production and testing, or entire platforms.
Managed services, including cloud offerings, enable companies to be highly responsive to business changes.
That means scaling up for unexpected volume spikes or exploding demand, adding new services to launch new businesses or expand operations in key geographies and refocusing on core competencies. Many companies are realising they’d rather have IT staff help grow the business – rather than run it.
By teaming with managed services providers, companies acquire not just end-to-end solutions, but also expert consulting services to achieve an optimal Hybrid Cloud mix that grows with their company. They also gain the benefit of the years of experience and continuous improvement gained from managing many customers’ IT platforms for clients around the globe. In addition, they have the ability to move IT workloads to different platforms throughout their lifecycles to meet business, processing, and cost objectives.
Cost savings is still the number-one driver for outsourcing IT infrastructure.
By moving to a co-location or managed service model, companies rid themselves of high data centre fixed costs, including facility, technology, energy, cooling and staffing, while also freeing up valuable capital that would otherwise be tied-up in data centre for decades.
Improving Security & Compliance
A common concern for companies is the ability to maintain the security and compliance of their data and applications with outsourced services.
Companies operating in certain industries such as financial services and healthcare are subject to a complex array of regulations and face heavy fines for compliance violations.
Yet remaining solo isn’t the only option for these firms. They can also go colo – leasing compliant data centres, use private clouds or build applications on compliant platforms offered by managed service providers.
Enterprise-focused managed service providers offer strong multi-level technology, policies and procedures to protect their customers’ businesses, systems, and data.
Enhancing Service Reliability
Outsourcing hosting or other services typically enables companies to obtain better availability, reliability, and business continuity than they achieve on their own.
– 24/7 access to business-critical applications, processes, and data
– Geo-load balancing for bone-crunching workloads and better infrastructure performance
– Business continuity with failover clustering, automatic failover and planned failovers for scheduled system maintenance
Companies use mergers and acquisitions to expand rapidly, and divestitures to rid themselves of non-performing businesses.
Companies no longer have years to integrate or decouple infrastructures of disparate businesses.
Using managed services can help enterprises accelerate this process in months or weeks, turning on, up, or off the tools and bandwidth they need to respond to market developments.
Hybrid IT: Today and Tomorrow
How are companies addressing business and IT challenges and opportunities?
2014: On-premise still predominates, but companies are experimenting with third-party services, including co-location, managed services and outsourced cloud services. Today, cloud adoption is mostly private, due to companies’ security and compliance concerns.
2015: Co-location is the dominant delivery model for data centres, as companies turn over the keys to – but not control over – for their data centres. However, many companies are viewing co-location as a step on the journey to complete outsourcing. Managed services and hybrid and public cloud are rising in importance.
2018: Outsourced Cloud. By 2018, cloud services help enterprises push performance to new levels, tying with managed services for outsourcing supremacy and by 2023, cloud computing will be far and away the most prevalent IT model.
However IT teams choose to configure their infrastructures, one thing is clear: they will move faster than ever before as they team with the business to create new products, new services, and new ways of working.
IT infrastructures will become ever more critical in an era of pervasive connectivity; device and data proliferation and constant innovation. They will help companies become third platform businesses, which is IDC’s (who is IDC? Never assume knowledge!) coinage for what happens when cloud, mobile, social and big data mash up in entirely new ways.
According to IDC, “The data centre must serve as the primary point of engagement and information exchange with employees, partners, and customers in today’s interconnected world. The data centre is also the foundation for new business models where leveraging large volumes of data and highly elastic compute resources are critical to delivering better insights and a superior product/user experience.”