Room to improve: the key to hybrid cloud success

Hybrid cloud combines long-standing on-premise IT investments with the on-demand flexibility, portability and scalability of cloud.

Digital transformation is the business trend of the moment, as organisations start on a journey to using their data to drive their success or enhance their customer service. Hybrid cloud is an ideal way for organisations to achieve those goals because of how it combines long-standing on-premise IT investments with the on-demand flexibility, portability and scalability of cloud. It also meets the growing demand for business to drive IT requirements, unlike in the past where IT’s capability determined what the business could do.

If you’re expecting a ‘but’, here it comes – although it’s not what you think. The hybrid cloud model can deliver those objectives, but the problem is the way many organisations are adopting it. Some are using hybrid purely as an add-on to ‘business as usual’ mode, with some added flexibility thrown in.

Without taking the time to get the house in order from an IT perspective, the risk is that businesses with a lot of legacy infrastructure bring their bad habits with them. I’ve seen this happen before; when virtualisation first came along, it seemed like the first step on the road to delivering IT in a more agile and flexible way. But it didn’t always drive better behaviour. Just as often, the ability to spin up a virtual machine gave an easy solution to every problem, whether or not it was the right one.

Technology is a tool, and when used right it can deliver flexibility and agility that the business needs; if left unmanaged, it’s like the room in the house where you hoard everything.

In our experience however, moving different applications to the cloud in whole or in part, or adopting software as a service, doesn’t take the rules away. It just defines them further.

Deciding to adopt a hybrid cloud model is an opportunity for a business to step back, look at how it does things, and make changes. First, that needs an understanding of the organisation’s current state. Without this crucial stage, it’s like building an extension to your house just to contain all the stuff you’ve accumulated over years.

If we think of our IT infrastructure as a house we’ve built, then the first step in moving to a hybrid cloud model is a thorough spring cleaning. It’s the chance to redefine policies around how long the business retains data; in some cases, it’s an ideal time to redefine the IT strategy outright.

IT leaders need to manage their resources in the hybrid cloud world just as carefully as when they were on-premise. It carries the same responsibilities from a data protection perspective. What’s more, doing things the same way means that the cost could be higher with hybrid than with traditional in-house IT. That’s because the cloud’s pay-as-you-go model means that any inefficient storage or server capacity will cost more. That’s not what the cloud promised, but it’s what could easily happen.

Adopting a hybrid cloud model is an opportunity to press the reset button; to do something new and different, as opposed to doing the same thing in a different place.

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