Hybrid cloud is essential for the transformative CIO

CIOs are increasingly seeing hybrid cloud not only as a cost-saving investment, but more as a driver for business innovation

Hybrid cloud is essential for the transformative CIO - CIO&Leader

The cloud which had initially been a cost-cutting and a reliable platform has transformed into a business innovation enabler. In recent times, as businesses are moving to the next phase of digital commitment, where they are leveraging technologies to drive tangible business values, hybrid cloud is taking a center stage. CIO/CTOs are realizing that it is designed to improve the business process, allows flexible ways to access the data and better reach to customers integrating the in-house datacenters with the cloud environment.

The value from hybrid cloud

As the CIO/CTO, for scalability and complete transformation of IT infrastructure, the role of hybrid cloud becomes prominent. Gartner predicts a 17.5% rise in the worldwide public cloud services market - from USD 182.4bn in 2018 to USD 214.3bn in 2019, and hybrid cloud adoption is playing an increasingly key role in this growth. A recent Synergy report states that spend on private and hybrid cloud services is growing at 45% per year.

This trend is not surprising, because the hybrid cloud allows optimal utilization of IT resources by enabling rapid changes to the workloads depending on the direction of the business strategy. Apart from the deployment flexibility, adoption of cloud brings about seamless scaling, increased availability and the strength to work seamlessly across multiple cloud and vendors.

However, moving to the hybrid of the multi-cloud has not been a very rapid journey for most, as is evident from a recent study by McKinsey & Company. The data shows that most enterprises are only 20% of the way into their cloud journeys and the remaining 80% of workloads are still on premises – the business-critical applications and processes. The study added that 94% of enterprises surveyed rely on multiple cloud providers to accomplish their business goals. 

The ability to cross-deploy workloads on multiple cloud, and be able to manage them seamlessly, provides an effective intermediate step for businesses to leverage their existing technology infrastructure investments and run them on a flexible and scalable cloud.

On the technology enablement front, the hybrid environment forms an ideal base to work with advanced analytics including newer technologies like Artificial Intelligence.  While this allows for consolidation and standardization of analytics tools, it also helps in bringing reuse of assets across the organization. 

As data analytics becomes the foundation of all strategy decisions, establishing a data platform on hybrid cloud platform is fast becoming a critical priority on the list of CIO-CTO’s agenda. Those who deployed hybrid cloud have seen greater efficiency, security and faster data management capabilities in their enterprise.

A strong hybrid cloud adoption strategy

A strategy that will embrace the unique compliance and security needs of this process will enable the movement of apps and data to the cloud to be seamless and efficient.

While scalability and flexibility are a part of enterprise digital transformation strategy, security is always the bull in the proverbial china shop. It needs to be addressed even before it enters the environment.

In the case of hybrid clouds, when it comes to security, three key areas need attention - encryption, endpoint security, and access control - just like the bull!

Being a crucial part of a smart adoption strategy, hybrid security is a major concern that needs to be tackled well. The first step is to ensure a comprehensive view of the monitoring and asset management system, across platforms - so alarm bells can be triggered for every small anomaly.

Many organizations are under the misconception that the cloud provider offer security as well as part of their offering. On the ground, the cloud provider only takes care of security in the cloud, not the security of the cloud. They need to be aware of this and plan budgets accordingly.

Implementing processes for cloud environments and ensuring they are adhered to, is a good strategy for avoiding loopholes and manual errors. Formalizing the process of transformation, and data assets as they travel from on-premise to cloud environment will help avoid these loopholes. Codifying processes into secure automated workflows can also help in maintaining security. 

Of course, managing access to hybrid environments is a huge part of getting security in place. Enabling a uniform Identity and Access Management (IAM) framework can help protect assets in hybrid environments.

The business value of hybrid cloud

In 2018, the IBM Institute for Business Value surveyed 1,106 executives across 19 industries and 20 countries, to learn more about the current state and future plans for multi-cloud management. The results were interesting – almost all were planning on using a hybrid cloud environment over the next three years, and 85% are already operating in the multi-cloud environment, most of which are multiple hybrid clouds. Almost 66% said that an actively managed multi-cloud environment is crucial to reduce operating costs.

From the research, we observe that hybrid cloud environment provides invaluable advantages to enterprises, especially those needed for survival and growth in an increasingly data-led, expanding digital era. Hybrid cloud architecture helps CIO/CTOs to develop new and enhanced products and services, support agile business processes, cultivate a flexible, modular infrastructure and most importantly, helps create innovative business models. These benefits in general help enterprises produce new revenue streams and enhance margins.

The hybrid cloud is here to stay, and in fact, analysts say that hybrid IT will be the standard going forward. Analysts also forecast hybrid architectures to soon become the footprints that enable organizations to extend beyond their datacenters and into cloud services.

Evidently, companies that have not yet taken the last mile step towards assessing their business plans, and the roadmap to digital transformation, need to start making smart decisions. CIO/CTOs have already started realizing that hybrid cloud offers everything they will need in their journey to industries 4.0.

The author is Chief Technology Officer, IBM India/South Asia


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