Why should enterprises go for hybrid?
Today, agility is a key ask for business and being able to respond to rapid requirement changes from customers and business is a big driver for hybrid cloud adoption. With new innovative solutions coming into market almost daily and services becoming more cloud-native, the hybrid cloud has become the new standard among enterprises. It allows them to have the best of both on-premises and cloud technologies. The hybrid cloud model helps enterprises bring in the cost optimization and scalability of public cloud, and the cloud security and reliability of the private cloud platform.
Hybrid cloud has enabled enterprises to:
- Run compatible workloads across boundaries
- Minimize risk and maximize availability of services
- Implement faster development cycles with scale-out capability
- Have business-critical data reside on premises and bring in powerful services to the data center
- Adopt custom financial constructs such as consumption-based, utility-based, and pay-as-you-go, etc.
Enterprises should have an evolving hybrid cloud journey
Hybrid cloud adoption is a journey and not a big bang adoption. Enterprises need to carefully asses themselves across multiple dimensions spanning business, functional, technological, and financial areas. Enterprises must be watchful in planning and making investments to ensure alignment with an organization’s short-term and long-term goals. Most enterprises would typically struggle with the following roadblocks during their hybrid cloud adoption journey:
- Future roadmap of legacy environments or infra debt: The definition of a legacy environment is not defined by just age but also by other factors such as lack of support, inability to meet business needs, difficult maintenance, and integration of newer cloud technologies which leads to high maintenance cost, failure to comply with industrial regulations, a lack of innovation resulting in inefficiencies, and decreased agility. In essence, legacy technologies are a significant barrier in digital transformation. Some of the examples of legacy systems can be Mainframes and Unix Servers, etc., which are expensive to maintain and support. Most organizations will have to consider one of the following options to treat legacy environments which are retire, re-host, re-platform, re-factor, re-architect, rebuild, and replace. Out of these, rebuild and replace give best results but they also bring in high cost and high risk. Enterprises need to assess the problem whether it is caused by technology, architecture, or functionality of the application and decide on the modernization approach keeping the organization goals in mind.
- Where to host either private or public cloud: For every CIO and CTO, the biggest challenge is to make a decision with reference to host the workloads in private or public cloud. Most organizations face the dilemma of adopting a public or private cloud strategy. While public cloud may offer better efficiency and cost savings, the tradeoff might be on cloud security, privacy, and control. Hybrid cloud serves as a mid-way point by using a combination of private and public cloud, enabling organizations to keep each business aspect in the most efficient cloud format possible. Enterprises need to constantly re-evaluate their hybrid cloud strategy in today’s dynamic and increasingly complex business environment to ensure that the cloud delivers on its promise.
- What technologies or cloud services to adopt: In a hybrid environment, a single vendor may not be able to cover the entire ecosystem and enterprises need multi-vendor solutions that can work collaboratively across different cloud platforms. Also, identification of barriers during the hybrid cloud adoption journey must be recognized. Enterprise must continue investing in hybrid cloud solutions such as HCL, containers, PaaS, etc., as they act as a bridge between public and private cloud by reducing complexity, making the process of cloud repatriation less expensive. These platforms bring in portability and scalability which is a prime requirement for the hybrid cloud to be successful. Multiple hybrid cloud solutions are available in the market such as AWS Outpost, Azure Stack HCL, Google Anthos, and VMware announcing a partnership with all public cloud players making migration more seamless with additional benefits. PaaS empowers the developers by giving them the freedom and simplicity of a policy-driven self-service that overlays both on-premises and public cloud. It also automates many aspects of the deployment life cycle that typically required other teams’ involvement in traditional environments. In a PaaS environment, all the key deployment functions are abstracted from the developer which leads to faster deployment of applications, faster time to market, and agile ways of working. With the evolution of containerization, enterprises are adopting container-as-a-service which plays a vital role in the hybrid cloud journey bringing in application portability and agility in the environment. Benefits of CaaS includes deployment standardization, improved monitoring, and vendor agnosticism. This helps in faster deployment of application with improved features and high quality.
Hybrid cloud evolution is dependent upon identification of challenges, acknowledging the requirement and managing the business and operational aspect. Key drivers shaping the hybrid cloud evolution include:
- Software-defined everything: In the last few years, software has started to play an important role as it has evolved and the location of the underlying hardware or infrastructure is now irrelevant. With its evolution, enterprises would be able to reduce complexity and have flexible and portable IT infrastructure.
- Anything-as-a-Service (XaaS): In a changing business paradigm, XaaS is able to mimic the cloud service model and provide services on demand with a flexible pricing model. This helps enterprises to have services horizontally cutting across organizational boundaries and offering a standardized environment which helps meet the growing demand. XaaS give businesses a crucial turning point to the path of innovation. Enterprise must adopt as-a-Service models to improve productivity, agility, and financial efficiencies by reducing CAPEX.
- Infrastructure-as-a-Code: Infrastructure-as-a-Code changes the way infrastructure is managed by bringing in automation and standardization across different platforms. With the adoption of hybrid cloud and DevOps, IaaC brings in consistency and reliability. Enterprises must adopt IaaC to accelerate application release cycles which will bring in faster provisioning of infrastructure components across the hybrid cloud.
- Cloud management: In a hybrid cloud infrastructure, workloads are scattered across different platforms. An enterprise would require hybrid, multi-cloud management where they can have uniform means for capacity management, performance analysis, billing and cost control, and provisioning. Enterprises need a holistic platform to allocate workloads strategically to the right environment along with maintaining business continuity across the hybrid IT architecture.
- AI/ML tools: AI and cloud are perfect combinations in diverse ways. AI can help enterprises to evolve in their hybrid cloud adoption journey by providing recommendations related to service improvements and improved ways of development. Enterprises can use AI for different use cases such as automating core workflows, repetitive tasks, and, over time, analytical capabilities that can help create better processes. AI/ML can also help enterprises to detect inconsistencies within the cloud infrastructure, thereby improving cloud security, predictive marketing and machine monitoring, and inventory management.
- Consider cloud as an application: APIs provide a way to enable enterprises by abstracting away core data and services from the underlying systems. This enhances skill sets as it enables non experts to consume data in applications and services. Furthermore, by leveraging API policies (specifically, throttling and rate limiting) enterprise can protect the underlying systems to receive too many requests, which can increase application uptime with more efficiency and agility. In order to achieve these, enterprises need to get the right-fit solution for their applications hosted in a hybrid cloud environment to fulfill customer requirements.
Hybrid cloud infrastructure has evolved from a cost-saving perspective to agility and speed of innovation, with the real value being the use of business intelligence, AI, machine learning, data analytics, and automation. As GSIs, we can play a vital role in mapping the hybrid cloud journey for our customers at every stage from consulting, formulating strategy, designing, right-fit technology adoption, and continuous evaluation and improvement to ensure optimum alignment with business goals.