By enabling public, private and virtual private cloud infrastructure to co-exist and thrive, the hybrid model is reshaping enterprise IT dramatically. According to a recent survey by Netmagic at the 2017 Cloud Leadership Summit, hybrid is now the preferred deployment model for more than 50% of companies.
Concerns such as integration, governance and security continue to exist, as much as they did in the on-premise world. The hybrid cloud model, if anything, simplifies some of these challenges by allowing organizations to optimize their IT infrastructure, simplify integration and meet differing workload needs across the enterprise.
Dealing with a Diversified Application Ecosystem
To start with, enterprise cloud strategies have evolved rather organically. Initially, cloud applications were used to automate processes that were traditionally not part of enterprise IT roadmap. Examples include SaaS based e-mail software, team collaboration tools and small reporting applications. Such applications would typically fly under the enterprise radar for IT security controls and IT governance, and eventually make their way into the enterprise IT roadmap.
Legacy applications and business-critical data have been the hardest to move to the cloud, or replace with cloud-based applications, since they require a much wider level of organizational buy-in. This is where private clouds have seen some level of adoption, though this has largely been limited to data-intensive, high-transaction processes, particularly in banking and financial services.
Decentralization of IT Decision Making
We are fast moving away from IT deployments which concentrated decision making in the hands of a few. With the rise of the digital ecosystem, workloads have become diverse, complex and difficult to understand by the traditional IT teams. Security, utilization, latency and scalability needs are best understood by teams who are in close proximity to these workloads.
A hybrid deployment model allows decentralization of IT decision making, and enables the organization to leverage the most optimal deployment model for each type of workload. In most cases, IT teams are comfortable placing low-criticality functions like payroll processing on cheaper, public cloud infrastructure, while real-time analytics on business critical processes like supply chain management, would require hybrid options like virtual private clouds.
However, with server, network and infrastructure costs having fallen significantly the recent times, private clouds are likely to find greater application. According to analysts, nearly 70% of enterprise workloads tend to be fairly static over a prolonged period of time. IT stands to gain immensely in terms of TCO, by using private clouds to manage such workloads.
Aligning Workloads to Infrastructure Services
With the right kind of hybrid could environment, business process owners would naturally gravitate towards cloud-deployment models that are best equipped to manage their workloads, efficiently and cost-effectively. They will need to make clear distinctions between the nature of workload and the type of deployment (public / private, SaaS / PaaS). By aligning their workloads to the appropriate cloud infrastructure, organizations have a number of benefits:
No Singular Solution to Meet All Enterprise Cloud Needs
Typical IT environments involve application and data ecosystems with varying degrees of complexity and advancement. Knowing how enterprise IT has evolved traditionally, it is clear that any long-drawn roadmap with a single platform and a centralized cloud strategy is not likely to find any takers. Expectedly, organizations are likely to follow their own path to the cloud, with varying degrees of centralization and diversification across platforms and deployment models. The sheer variability in the enterprise cloud ecosystem will allow organizations, departments and teams to quickly chop and change applications, build and test new capabilities, and react to market needs with unmatched speed.
Managing the Hybrid Cloud is a Strategic Imperative
While many hybrid cloud deployments to date have been centrally governed, the use of platforms, infrastructure and third-party vendor tools across the enterprise raises questions around data security and governance. Especially when it comes to public cloud infrastructure, there is always a sense of risk of unauthorized transfer of sensitive data or business-critical information.
Another area of concern is ensuring that the organizational cloud ecosystem is aligned to the organization’s long term technology vision. With diverse technologies and rapid deployment, stakeholders need to make important trade-offs between performance, cost and business alignment, when choosing to deploy a hybrid cloud solution. These trade-offs will differ greatly across applications, business processes, geographies and even user groups.
While this model sees further evolution, backed by industry standards, the road may become somewhat clearer in the near future for IT teams to evolve and manage their hybrid cloud environments.