Are we on the verge of cloud sprawl, a hodgepodge of ex officio, rogue or project-driven acquisitions of IT services and applications of varying quality, risk and value, with no centralized strategic, technology or spending oversight?
Sometimes it seems this way. More technology purchase decision-making is moving out of IT in search of speed to market and immediate payback. Individuals are buying their own mobile apps for business, outside of IT auspices. Meanwhile, IT is working to introduce its own private cloud computing capabilities to stanch its loss of influence while still contending with legacy systems management, disaster recovery preparation, storage forecasting and general business support.
While business growth and competitive advantage are the reasons often cited, is the overarching business strategy actually being served through disparate technology engagement decisions and purchases? What are the implications on compliance or data security in general? Does it make sense to have five individually provisioned applications based on personal preferences instead of one mutually agreed upon app that’s most cost-effective and better quality?
Like it or not, what we have here is a hybrid cloud. Not a hybrid cloud strategy, but a hybrid bucket of computing and cloud service models, internal and external.
General wisdom says that it is IT’s inability to respond to and leverage the business and IT transformation underway that got us into this spot. The pressure is on IT to get with the program, to understand its role in making the business successful.
On the flip side, general wisdom should also realize that without centralized management and oversight of an integrated IT/business strategy, the business may end up with its own technology Tower of Babel.
Gartner Inc. believes that a new role for IT not only will bring the situation under control, but better align IT with business strategy and execution, and result in a forward-thinking hybrid cloud strategy that’s a driving force for the enterprise.
“Cloud computing continues to evolve, with new technologies emerging to support the dynamic creation of cloud services. IT departments in large enterprises should play the role of IT as a Service Broker (ITaaSB), and train staffs to manage cloud provider relationships.” (1)
The concept of ITaaSB brings IT and the lines of business together, with the CIO serving as the primary intermediary and facilitator. Complementing this new role are the emergence of cloud management platforms like those offered by Cisco, as well as third-party cloud service brokers – the intermediary/aggregator between cloud consumers and cloud providers.
The pieces that will enable implementation of this strategy are only now becoming available. The real question is whether companies can make the mind shift necessary to successfully implement this new organizational framework and computing model. The structural, professional and cultural barriers are high and will not be easily dismantled.
The potential advantages, however, are beyond question:
- Hybrid cloud computing will be the predominate IT infrastructure in the near future and must be managed strategically
- Responsibility for service delivery and quality must be centralized, even when those services are provided by others, as they will be
- Only proactive and streamlined service enablement from IT will arrest shadow IT and freelance service provisioning
- A hybrid cloud strategy characterized by standardization, repeatability and automation will drive speed, reduce service delivery cost and integration concerns, and increase quality.
- Fostering a secure and compliant IT infrastructure requires a constant and consistent evaluation of new applications, services, vendors and processes, made all the more complex in hybrid computing
The small and mid-size organizations that make up the overwhelming majority of businesses in the U.S. might well be wondering at this point, “Are you talking to me?”
While the hybrid cloud strategies required by large enterprises may be more formidable and complex given their size, sunk IT investments and legacy infrastructure, the concerns are the same for companies of all sizes. And, given that many smaller companies also have smaller budgets, as well and fewer IT skills and less technical knowledge, their abilities to address the concerns over hybrid cloud strategies and implementations may be wanting.
As a hybrid service provider with a full range of IT infrastructure, cloud and managed service offerings, Peak 10 is a trusted advisor to customers for strategy planning, solution design and ongoing technology advice and counsel. Many customers begin with hosted infrastructure services for their primary production environments. Additional services such as data replication, managed security, disaster recovery and compliance clouds, to name a few, are added over time, evolving into a hybrid cloud in the truest sense of the term.
Whether it’s a cloud services broker or a services provider such as Peak 10, engaging assistance in navigating the choppy waters of hybrid cloud strategies and infrastructures is becoming as necessary as the hybrid cloud itself. Hybrid clouds have no formula. Each is unique by design and function. Getting it right is a team effort — both an internal team effort, as well as with trusted partners.