Sandip Patel is MD of IBM India/South Asia
The Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with a set of immediate and emerging needs of businesses, has become a catalyst for the rise in the significance of emerging technologies across industries. The immediate needs of businesses today are speed to market, flexibility, nimbleness and continuous innovation. Covid-19 has quickened the digital transformation journey from a few years to a few months as several companies begin to choose the right technology platform—one that is vital to increase their competitive edge, pivot to new market opportunities, and ensure return on investment (ROI) at scale. More importantly, they are seeking a platform that can enable them to respond quickly to disruptions in the future.
The answer to their search: The Hybrid Cloud.
Hybrid cloud enables business growth
Many enterprises today leverage cloud platforms to harness the power of data for greater business performance. However, these cloud platforms comprise a single environment: public or private. The reality is that only 20 percent of workloads are actually on the public cloud today, while 60 percent are not transformed. Yet 80 percent of enterprises are already using two or more public cloud vendors due to the democratisation of access to cloud paired with the lack of enterprise-wide standards.
To unlock the remaining 80 percent of the value of the cloud, enterprises should embrace a hybrid platform approach. A structured hybrid approach enables organisations to jump-start innovation with architectural flexibility, reduce cyber-security and regulatory risks with a single plane of control and eliminate duplicating tools and processes.
A hybrid cloud platform allows an organisation the ability to choose the optimal cloud for each application or workload, so it can meet its technical and business objectives more effectively and cost-efficiently than it could with a standalone public or private cloud. More importantly, it enables an agile enterprise powered by data, guided by artificial intelligence (AI) insights, and built for change.
In a post-Covid world, digital transformation powered by a hybrid cloud strategy becomes even more important. Businesses are unable to harness full capabilities for their cloud environments as they veer away from embracing a hybrid cloud model. It is critical to note that a hybrid platform approach plays a unifying role, allowing enterprises to exact the full range of capabilities available to them for improved business and operational performance.
Return on investment at scale
Hybrid multi-cloud is the fundamental enabler of enterprises’ target operating model. An IBM Institute of Business Value study demonstrates that the value derived from a hybrid, multi-cloud platform technology and operating model at scale is 2.5 times the value realised from a single platform, single cloud. It considers factors such as innovation, development time and portfolio optimisation.
Further, various studies show that visionary enterprises gain competitive advantage through the adoption of robust hybrid cloud management and governance platforms. What is the strategy these organisations embark on to effectively deploy their hybrid cloud platform and maximise value proposition?
An effective strategy to deploy a hybrid cloud platform
Here is a five-step action guide for enterprises to gain the hybrid cloud advantage:
Enterprises must remember the development of cloud capabilities is of strategic business importance and aligns with end-to-end business transformation. They should take their business objectives as a point of departure for the development of their hybrid multi-cloud management capabilities. They need to ascertain how the development of enhanced cloud capabilities aligns with their transformation of processes and the wider operating model.
Companies must modernise their IT infrastructure, development methods and governance needs with a cloud-based infrastructure to be competitive on desired business processes. Their cloud platform must be open, hybrid, multi-cloud, secure, and managed. They should look at cost rationalisation and reduce risks in their hybrid multi-cloud environment, optimise and automate redundant and manual tasks to enhance productivity and ROI.
Businesses must prioritise the workloads that need to be moved to different cloud environments based on the risks, skills availability, value, cost implications and vendor options. They should determine the cloud environment that makes sense based on external and internal business processes along with the size of storage, the number of servers they require and the number of hours the workloads need to run per day.
Enterprises need to use hybrid multi-cloud to create next-generation digital capabilities that can help modernise their application portfolio and transform their business using exponential technologies like AI, Internet of Things and 5G. They should develop and deploy cloud-native applications using the latest cloud technologies to accelerate time-to-market and innovation at lower costs. They need an open-source approach so they can work across various cloud vendors and for compatibility with future cloud technologies.
Companies must optimise and manage costs continuously by improving server use, identifying unused storage, etc. They have to implement a governance dashboard that manages the entire cloud environment today and is extendable to future anticipated technology interventions governed in the cloud environment. They need to enable self-service so their IT organisation can respond to market demands in real-time. Above all, they must establish qualitative and quantitative measurements to help ensure the resiliency of their overall hybrid IT environment and its impact on their critical business processes.
While enterprises adopt hybrid cloud platform technologies, they will seek to control cloud costs as the global economies return to pre-Covid levels of growth. Emphasis on how organisations create and deliver value, scale work, compete and transact would become paramount. To foster innovation and shun vendor lock-in, businesses should combine the power of hybrid with the flexibility of open standards. In addition, they must also focus on security mechanisms that protect them from existing and emerging threats while helping them gear up for data explosion and regulatory compliance. Open-source and security are key pillars to bring an effective hybrid cloud strategy to life.
An effective hybrid cloud strategy is crucial for business acceleration, application development and productivity. Finally, the hybrid allows organisations to maintain strategic optionality. Hybrid cloud is the enabler for business transformation and growth to create enterprises of the future beyond the Covid times.
The writer is MD of IBM India/South Asia