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IT Budget Planning for Hybrid Solutions (Well, Sort of)

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December 18, 2014
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The reality of hybrid cloud computing solutions – a strategic mix of private, public, hosted and legacy infrastructures working in complete synchronicity – is settling in. Probably within 10 years the term “hybrid” will be an amusing artifact of this transition period to what will simply be a company’s technology infrastructure, a fluid and dynamic portfolio of internal and external services, cost- and performance-optimized for the moment.

With so many possibilities and so many potential combinations of providers with different delivery platforms and pricing models, the budgeting process for the business and operational entities within an enterprise will be a challenge.

Let’s start our budgeting analysis by looking at your hybrid cloud implementation plan. What? You don’t have one? That makes budgeting even more challenging. If you did have one, and you should, it would span a number of years, beginning small and growing in phases and sophistication. As you gain experience, methods to streamline your deployment expenses will present themselves. After all, the end game is speeding IT service delivery cost effectively to drive positive business outcomes. Down the road you will have built up a set of private cloud services that support emerging internal development and deployment needs while leveraging external providers in conjunction with your data center to serve your enterprise and its customers.

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Okay, then, your hybrid cloud strategy document will give us an idea how to … no strategy document  either? Time to talk with all those who will have input into that strategy as business leaders or as users. This would also be a good time to engage with experts such as consultants or design architects; they bring experience, expertise and outside perspective.  Don’t neglect the value that your best partners, suppliers and customers can add. They will help you better understand how they want to collaborate with you in the future. New applications, business technologies and data analytics will drive a high percentage of hybrid cloud deployment workloads. So will data storage. New applications could be SaaS, written by in-house developers or, likely, a combination. Use all this as foundational elements for your hybrid cloud strategy.

Before you dig in to developing your strategy document, there are three more steps you must take to get yourself and your organization ready to start and to keep expanding your hybrid cloud infrastructure in a controlled, smooth-functioning and value-adding process over time.

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Look in the Mirror: Does you current IT strategy serve the business? What is working well and what should have been discarded long ago. It’s likely that your current infrastructure is a collection of systems and solutions implemented over years to address particular needs. Can it provide flexibility and manageability to support new initiatives and business change? Ask your business peers to weigh in; engage them in this journey from the beginning.

Look into the Future: Your industry is changing. Without new technology approaches you will not be able to sustain a competitive advantage. How it’s changing is what you have to get a handle on. IT has to take the time to clearly understand not only the current IT and business environments, but also how both can evolve in lock-step through the end of the decade. Will you have to adapt to changing models within your business ecosystem? Are new competitors emerging with new business technology solutions? Will you be able to compete effectively for mobile customers? Is it time for your enterprise to disrupt the status quo to gain first-mover advantage?

Look around you. So far you have budgeted very little to spend on your hybrid cloud. But now that you’re armed with the knowledge of the current state of your business and the supporting IT infrastructure and where it is headed, it is time to learn and experiment with cloud computing options. It’s quite easy and inexpensive to try out cloud offerings. Look for free trials. Use open-source offerings to test how different options may serve your business now and in the future. Other areas in the company may have gotten started already by contracting for SaaS products. This education process is critical so that you know what questions to ask. Even if you turn to a service provider for help – which is advisable – you will make better decisions about how you approach your cloud strategy, implementation and budgeting.

This was supposed to be about budgeting, wasn’t it? Well, here it is.

  • Figure out where you are and where you need to go.
  • Engage with other business and strategic interests in your company from the very beginning.
  • Experiment with various cloud offerings at low- or no-cost.
  • Create you hybrid cloud strategy and implementation plans
  • Lead off with small projects with very specific objectives and measurements, and build upon your experience and successes.
  • The more measurable business value you return to your organization, the more your budget will grow, and the more you can do.

That’s how you budget for hybrid cloud.

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