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Hybrid IT puts the CIO back in control

January 11, 2016

Genius Wong   

Chief Technology Officer

New digitally-driven business models based on nothing more than a concept and software code are disrupting traditional businesses and entire industries around the world. In response, many enterprises are establishing new, innovative – at times even aggressive – business units to ignite an entrepreneurial fire within the organisation and respond faster to new opportunities.

As a result, many of today’s entrepreneurial start-ups are being launched not inside the proverbial garage, but within business units of large global enterprises. The people working with them have a new mandate – collaborate, innovate and help the enterprise gain a competitive advantage. These new business units are driving enterprise innovation with new analytical tools, cloud and outsourced technology services.

A major challenge for these teams has been operational obstacles – getting the fast response they need from IT. The issue is a clash of cultures and priorities. IT operations are traditionally highly structured and measured – not particularly focused on flexibility and agility, which is what these new business units need. The collision of these diverging priorities has led business units to essentially go their own way and seek IT solutions outside the control of the CIO.

Moving quickly to capitalise on new digital opportunities

 In today’s hyper-connected global market, enterprises need an agile approach that enables them to respond faster to new opportunities. The traditional IT model was born in the 1950s and 1960s – a world without digital technologies and the Internet. The velocity of business was much slower than today. For example, on December 1, 1964, the trading volume on the New York Stock Exchange was fewer than 5 million shares. Today, it averages well over 1 billion shares and often exceeds 2 billion. With ubiquitous Internet and digital transformation, the pace of change is accelerating at warp speed.

That is why enterprises, large and small, are turning to cloud computing to enable them to respond faster to new opportunities. The cloud has become one of the most popular enterprise IT frameworks because it offers the cost efficiency (transparent pricing and fees), capacity (cloud management is not tied to the finite IT team resources) and flexibility (ability to scale up or down quickly) required by enterprises to be competitive.

Over 95% of large enterprises report using some form of public or private cloud service and 75% say they are operating some form of hybrid cloud environment, spanning public and private cloud services. The cloud hasn’t completely replaced the ‘old’ IT estate – most enterprises today use an intricate mix of different technology environments, with the most business-critical or sensitive applications still residing on a trusted physical server onsite, instead of the virtual world of cloud computing.

But, if you take a bit of managed hosting or colocation, throw in some cloud computing and a couple of legacy systems – you get an IT environment that makes offering a seamless user experience a huge challenge, and that is almost too complex to manage. To make these multiple legacy and cloud environments work better together while increasing business agility, more and more enterprises are turning to hybrid IT.

 How to make hybrid IT work

Instead of forcing every enterprise IT need into the same model, hybrid IT uses the best approach to solve each business problem, and harnesses the best suited part of the IT infrastructure – public or private cloud, hosted environment – saving time, money and resources. But, the move to a new kind of hybrid IT environment requires a thoughtful, step-by-step approach – not a great leap forward.

Several considerations in the process include, where should different kinds of workloads run? How will you develop new applications for it? What kinds of tools are required to manage this new environment? Where should different kinds of data be stored?

Crucially, when embarking on a hybrid IT journey, you need to consider the number of applications your business uses and the different cloud environments deployed. A large enterprise might have 500 or more applications running through its IT infrastructure. You will need to compile an inventory of them all and determine which ones are still useful. Most enterprises also use multiple clouds – private, public and hybrid – but don’t always know what their clouds are doing, or how well they are performing, so you need a cloud inventory and determine what services and applications are running in each.

Become more nimble

While cloud computing is helping enterprises to respond more quickly to fast-changing market demands and competitive pressures, it can also increase complexity for the IT department. Hybrid IT gives you the best both worlds – scalability of different clouds with the security and reliability of traditional infrastructures – and represents a fundamental shift in how the IT department works. Ultimately, hybrid IT puts the CIO back in control and enhances business agility and innovation, accelerating time-to-market, and empowering the whole organisation to nimbly capitalise on new growth opportunities.

Read my previous blog on building an unbreakable internet. In the meantime, leave your comment below.