THE STATE OF THE
Author // David Howell
The cloud had continued to be a critical component of every enterprise’s digital transformation. With the pandemic reshaping how digital services are delivered, is the hybrid cloud approach still valid?
For many enterprises, the hybrid cloud approach had worked well for them, offering a useful mix of on-prem and public cloud services. As the pandemic deepened, the use of hosted applications became far wider and looks likely to become the new norm. Is the hybrid cloud approach still valid as businesses move into a post-COVID-19 environment? Research from Virtana, which surveyed 350 IT decision-makers in the USA and UK, is telling, as 72% of enterprises have moved one or more applications from the public cloud back to on-premises. Over a third (36%) of respondents cited technical issues with the public cloud service they had been using. Speaking to Digital Bulletin about the findings, Kash Shaikh, President and CEO of Virtana explains, says choosing the right supplier is crucial. “Attention must be paid to selecting the right partner, tools, or platforms. Platforms developed by companies that have been optimising on-premises applications for many years and knowhow to optimise public cloud cost vs performance are the best to choose from.”
Reducing cost and increasing efficiency are often the core drivers cited by enterprises when they describe their use of the hybrid cloud to deliver the IT services they need. However, the rush to support mass remote working has, in some instances, ignored the security aspect of this strategy. Indeed, the 2020 Intelligent Workplace report from NTT clarifies that security required more attention, with 77% of organisations finding it challenging to identify IT security or business risk across their remote workforces. Prathmesh Jadhav, senior manager in Deloitte's consulting practice, explained to Digital Bulletin how cloud services must be planned to ensure stated outcomes are met. "Engineering teams should view cloud adoption as an iterative journey and maintain a clear focus on the organisation’s overall business and IT strategy in order for hybrid cloud deployment to be delivered at speed. Each engineering team will require a basic set of tools, connectivity and visibility to perform their day-to-day functions.”
The hybrid cloud, then, has not been a panacea for some enterprises that have struggled to evolve their processes, particularly as their workforces have fragmented. However, the future development of any business's IT will have a cloud component. How this component is designed and then deployed will need to be clearly defined to gain the advantages of hosted services. Head in the cloud What began as SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) has expanded to PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) and now IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service). IaaS is gaining the most attention at the moment, as enterprises' IT infrastructure has had to be radically altered to simply keep companies functioning. With medium and long-term planning now coming into focus, an evaluation of existing cloud deployments is a priority.
The Agents of Transformation Report from AppDynamics concludes that 81% of technologists state that COVID-19 has created the most significant technology pressure for their organisation they have ever experienced. The report highlights that technologists need specific resources and support from their organisations to meet the challenges ahead, with 92% of respondents stating that having visibility and insight into the performance of the technology stack. “Technologists are stepping up in their organisations’ hour of need,” says Danny Winokur, general manager, AppDynamics. “It’s now the responsibility of business leaders to do everything possible to provide these women and men with the tools, leadership and support they require to deliver first class digital customer and employee experiences. It will be the skill, vision and leadership of these Agents of Transformation that will determine how businesses are able to navigate this turbulent period and emerge stronger on the other side.”
A concerted push to overhaul how cloud services are organised and used should be a core focus for all businesses according to Tom Christensen, CTO and customer advocacy, Northern EMEA at Hitachi Vantara: “Early cloud adopters are now developing a hybrid cloud strategy before embarking on a cloud journey. They have become aware that application modernisation is critical before shifting the workload to a cloud service. “Market analysis shows that it is up to 50% of all workloads that are repatriated. Also, 36% will stay in a hosted or private cloud and 14% will be relocated in public cloud. The four top reasons for this are security and cost concerns, manageability and performance issue.” There is no doubt that cloud services are now an essential component of delivering the agile application access all businesses now need. The obstacles to the efficient creation, deployment and management of these cloud services align them with strategic planning that integrates the cloud into the medium and long-term development plans of each business. Here, the hybrid cloud approach has proven its value yet must not be seen as the only solution.
Agile business As businesses continue to advance the technologies they use, including the expansion of AI – particularly machine learning – the adoption of IoT and the burgeoning 5G network, all these advances have data as their common denominator. The digital transformation journey that all enterprises have been following leverages cloud services to integrate what had been siloed datasets and couple them with hosted applications to deliver a new digital landscape that can increase efficiency, reduce costs and offer new opportunities to develop business processes and enhance customer-facing services.
John Starling, UK cloud engineering leader at Deloitte, explains how the cloud is a vital component of every enterprise's data and application strategy. “COVID-19 has undoubtedly highlighted the benefits of having IT infrastructure that is scalable and flexible, in either the public or private cloud. For example, rapidly building new services, for instance call centres, and bringing data and insights together using artificial intelligence and machine learning services have relied on the cloud services. We do not expect the benefits and acceleration of hybrid cloud adoption during this period to be lost.” The ultimate question is whether the hybrid cloud is still the best option for most businesses? Tracy Woo, senior analyst, Forrester concludes: "We still see hybrid cloud as the main strategy for companies. Increasingly companies recognise that cloud is necessary to stay competitive. Adding digital engagement and collaboration underscores that necessity. And although data leaving the data centre still remains a top concern for I&O professionals, they also find that cloud offers not only lower base operating costs (e.g., for hardware, software, and administrative labour) but also lower security costs."
For all businesses, the cloud remains a critical component of their IT infrastructure. Gartner says: “IT services must be continuous, regardless of external factors. This expectation changes the traditional role of IT operations, requiring an increased dependence on automation and zero or minimal-touch maintenance. The benefits of this include increased efficiency, faster workload deployment, reduced costs and consistency across processes.” Any cloud deployment architecture has radically altered as enterprises have grappled with new working environments and expanding technologies they want to utilise. In the past, the architecture of the hybrid cloud has been a barrier, with many businesses lamenting vendors' ability to create hybrid cloud spaces that meet all the IT needs of any given company. Today, the hybrid cloud is in rude health.