Hybrid cloud is on the agenda of most organisations today. Understandably - it's one of the key enablers of digital transformation.
But hybrid cloud is not without challenges, whether it's ensuring security and application performance, optimising costs, or managing data. Underpinning these challenges is the relentless rate of change.
Change is not slowing down. It's accelerating across technology, market dynamics, workplace models and more. The big question is: how do you keep pace?
Answer: you need to be highly selective and ruthlessly prioritise what matters most to your organisation. It's the only way to survive and even thrive in this environment.
For that, you need to be clear on objectives and challenges, both for business at a high level, and at the level of each application. With this framework, you can plot a precise and incremental path that delivers value at every step.
Balance innovation with security
Security is always a concern, especially now with growing digital interactions. Digital innovation is a compelling advantage of hybrid cloud, but you must balance it with security.
Most hyperscalers are well protected. However, you still need a holistic approach to security, and focus on securing not only your data but also your applications and access methods.
You should also broaden responsibility for security from your IT teams to anyone who accesses the cloud. Educating everyone on the value of security and proper procedures is also paramount.
Security and innovation don't have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, they can be mutually supportive, delivering financial, reputational and productivity advantages with the appropriate frameworks and mindset.
Plan for performance
Application performance is top of mind when moving to hybrid cloud. Some applications need minimal latency, while cost is the determining factor for others. For many applications, it's both.
The first step is to decide which applications will benefit in a cloud environment. Some may not deliver much value. Others may perform better on premises.
If moving an application to the cloud, you'll need to decide whether to do a lift and shift, re-platform, or go cloud native. The more you redesign an application for the cloud, the more cost-effective it generally is to run. However, the cost of design and migration will be higher.
Assess your network architecture at the same time as you make these cloud architecture decisions. The cloud is only as good as the network, so align the network with your cloud up front to minimise latency.
Tools that provide visibility on usage and costs are a must. They will help you optimise costs and understand what's delivering value so you can fine-tune your investment.
Harness your data
Data is being generated at an unprecedented rate and data volumes are set to explode in the next few years. Hybrid cloud compounds the problem with multiple sources of data from many locations.
Extracting value from this data can be complex, but should be a priority. You must put data to work so you can be more relevant to your customer and gain actionable or predictive insights. AI and ML are invaluable in this regard, helping to deliver the cost and performance benefits you seek with the cloud.
Flex with change
The greatest challenge is keeping pace with rapid change. Hyperscalers are releasing new capabilities all the time. You have to assess these offerings, decide whether to adopt them, and if you have the in-house skills to manage them.
The result is that many organisations are suffering change fatigue across their IT teams, as well as other employees who have to learn new ways of working.
Having the right mindset is all important here. You must balance change and stability. Both have a role: change will create innovation; stability will engender clarity.
How you respond to change will depend on the frameworks you have in place to manage risk, and how calculated your approach is.
It will also depend on your business processes and operating model. How do they affect your capacity to adopt new technologies, or pivot with changing conditions? It's a good idea to re-evaluate both to align with business agility.
The important point is that new initiatives may not always work. But with the right frameworks, you can fail fast, recover quickly, and move on. In fact, a main advantage of cloud is the ability to fail without major repercussions. So why not take advantage of it?
The way forward
Hybrid cloud will grow in scope and scale. While this presents challenges, it's reassuring to know that they're the same ones faced by most organisations. So answers are available.
To get those answers, you'll need a cloud partner to advise you since few organisations can go it alone. So perhaps the most important decision you'll make is choosing a partner.
Many consulting firms offer cloud skill sets. But cloud interconnects with everything. So a partner with expertise spanning cloud, networks and security together is more likely to identify and assess all the critical factors involved in your journey.