The enterprise and hybrid cloud: What CIOs need to know

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By Shelly Kramer, Co-CEO, V3 Broadsuite

When it comes to the enterprise and the hybrid cloud, and what CIOs need to know about that, let’s start here: Nine out of 10 IT decision makers say embracing the hybrid cloud for their business is necessary for building afuture-ready enterprise.

Odds are that those same nine out of 10 CIOs are still struggling to agree on exactly what the term “hybrid cloud” actually means. That’s because hybrid cloud is a bit of an “umbrella term,” covering all sorts of collaborative scenarios. That said, it almost always requires the intermingling and central managing of public or private off-site cloud technology, along with some in-house IT—both operating independently of one another—and both able to communicate over encrypted connections. Hybrid cloud also describes the general coordination of two or more clouds.

However way you describe it, hybrid cloud is a game changer. It’s massively effective as an additional tier to on-site physical storage infrastructure, acting as an extension of what businesses already have. This functionality reduces the need to spend a lot of cash investing in additional hardware, and provides almost unlimited, flexible benefits.

In fact, hybrid cloud offers up endless collaborative and cost-saving possibilities for businesses of all sizes, and for the enterprise in particular. That’s exactly why CIOs need to be in the know, and open to embracing the fluidity and adaptability of all that hybrid cloud technology has to offer. Let’s explore further.

Embracing the Hybrid Cloud

There’s a lot of information available about the hybrid cloud; here are the things that are immediately top of mind when it comes to what CIOs need to know/consider when it comes to adopting the hybrid cloud within the organization:

Do what works for now. If your company is operating without issue on a strong platform (public or private) and projected growth does not necessitate imminent system modifications or other changes, then you probably don’t have a pressing need to adopt a hybrid cloud model. By maintaining practical, workable technology options that are both adaptable and scalable, if and when the time comes to incorporate a hybrid-cloud strategy, you’ll have a leg up over competitors who may be starting from scratch. That said, CIOs should constantly be evaluating their cloud maturity, and looking ahead to what’s next on the horizon for their business because, when it comes to technology, something is always next.

Be ready for change. As mentioned above, you don’t necessarily have to go all in on the hybrid cloud train immediately if it doesn’t make good sense for your organization. But the reality is, you’ll find yourselves there sooner than you know. In fact, 62 percent of IT decision makers foresee a rise in future hybrid cloud usage, so the time to be exploring the options afforded through hybrid cloud computing is now, so that you can prepare for your corporate needs moving forward. As we all know, change in the enterprise doesn’t typically happen quickly, so doing your homework and starting conversations about hybrid cloud and exploring usage cases now will allow you to implement faster once you’re ready. Big ships turn slowly—you can speed that up by anticipating the turn well in advance and making a plan for that to happen.

Moving to a hybrid cloud strategy will bring lots of choices and lots of changes. Embracing a hybrid cloud strategy will require the help of experts. It’s important to note that a unified service catalog for IT resources must exist company-wide in order for the adoption of a hybrid cloud model to be successful. And, like any major business change, policies and procedures must be defined, and service-level agreements should be set forth. The good news is that this work needn’t be done solo. As we already know, there are plenty of MSPs (you might be one of them!) just waiting to assist with the processes of coordinating the old and new platforms, facilitating company-wide training, and smoothing over any potential implementation ripples. The available tools and resources for businesses moving to hybrid cloud environments are plentiful—cloud management vendors, cloud service providers, IT operations management vendors and pure-play cloud management startups are all viable options. Find the one that works and start getting acquainted.

It will also bring lots of risk, sort of. Anytime you transmit information across a public domain or one that can be vulnerable to third-party interference, there will be security and privacy concerns, especially if you are in the financial or healthcare industries. In short, transmitting information across public networks can be scary for a lot of people and a lot of companies. While those concerns are certainly valid, it’s important to note that working in a hybrid cloud environment allows IT professionals to pick and choose where they put that really private information—and it’s probably not going to be on the public side of things.

On one hand, moving to a hybrid cloud model from a public cloud system downsizes the level of risk by adding the in-house IT management services. On the other hand, adding a public cloud component to a system that was previously private invites risk inherent to any sort of data-sharing platform. Regardless of which camp you come from, what you’re left with in the end is the same scenario—a targeted mashup of platforms that together form a hybrid cloud—with the same emphasis on collaboration, the same amount of risk that you’ll need to always be vigilant about mitigating, and the same—if not more—opportunity for reward.

Going hybrid won’t be cheap. As with anything else, when it comes to cloud technology solutions in general and hybrid cloud solutions in particular, you get what you pay for. Don’t go into this looking for solutions based on price. Look for solutions that make the most sense based on the overall business goals of your organization, find the vendor or vendors who makes the most trusted partners, work with them to determine baseline needs as well as future needs, and budget accordingly. Develop your plan with the future in mind and buy what you need, not what is the least expensive at the time. You’ll thank yourself for that later.

The move to hybrid is worth it. Moving to a hybrid cloud model can be extremely cost-effective for the right organizations. In industries where space is an issue (for example, on the trading room floor), investing up front in a system that allows professionals to communicate more effectively, and ultimately perform better, speaks to long-term profitability. In addition, IT departments can ensure hardware purchase choices only fit (and don’t exceed) company needs. Pairing a private cloud that can take the day-to-day brunt of the work and handle the transmission of the more sensitive data, with a modest public cloud provider to handle all the rest, can help make the arrangement a cost-effective one.

The emergence of the hybrid cloud model brings a lot to the table for CIOs looking to reevaluate their cloud computing structures. Because the hybrid cloud is so open-ended and customizable, IT managers don’t have to settle for one-size-fits-all solutions. Instead, they have the opportunity to create unique models tailored to the nuances of particular industries, as well as the specific business goals of the organization. As always, there are factors to consider, like implementation costs and data loss risks—but the bottom line is that the hybrid cloud is worth a close look.

Is your company on the road to embracing the hybrid cloud, or are you hanging back because you’re happy with your current model? Or, maybe you’ve already gone totally hybrid. If so, was it worth it? What were the biggest challenges you faced along the way? I’d love to hear your thoughts and get some different perspectives on this powerful technology.

Other Resources on this Topic:

Hybrid Cloud: What it is, Why it Matters

How to Optimize Dynamic Hybrid Cloud Management

This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.

From October 20-22, Dell is bringing together technology and business professionals who are crafting a vision for the future of their enterprise.Register now for Dell World 2015 in Austin, Texas.

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