Cloud has spread like wildfire through the majority of businesses. Its flexibility, scalability and price-point often makes it the natural data storage solution.
With cloud follows the notion of a ‘hybrid cloud strategy’, and whether the IT manager recognises it or not, the business probably has one. Take for example, a company that is slowly moving applications out of the data centre and chooses SaaS applications where possible – the business may not consider this a ‘formal’ hybrid cloud strategy but, like it or not, it is.
No one person is responsible, but many have contributed. Over the years, with each additional SaaS service purchased, each new application that was brought in and hosted with a public cloud provider, and each new upgrade to the existing onsite data centre, a hybrid cloud ecosystem has developed.
Once implemented it is easy for cloud to spread throughout the business. Every month new services are added and old applications are taken offline, and so a hybrid cloud ecosystem evolves.
The attraction of hybrid cloud may not be something that can be entirely set in stone in a formal strategy. By its very nature, perhaps it has to be a living, breathing ecosystem, that flexes and changes as new situations arise: perhaps one year a data centre failure means more services than usual are moved to the cloud; or the company’s ERP provider moves to a pure cloud play strategy so the businesses is forced to turn to the SaaS world for its central business applications.
It is not always possible to plan for this change. With Microsoft Dynamics now being Azure-led, customers may be moving central systems to the cloud earlier than their strategies previously anticipated.
All this being said, it doesn’t mean a strategy doesn’t exist. Rather it just means that maybe the traditional way of deciding on a long term IT strategy doesn’t fit in a world where new providers can launch applications on the fly, or the industry’s largest vendors can change their position regarding onsite or public cloud hosting overnight.
A hybrid IT strategy is all about being flexible enough to allow for change both internally (i.e. what the business decides to do commercially and operationally) and externally (i.e. what the market dictates and also what technology industry and vendors offer each year).
Previously, vendors may have introduced a newer, shinier box – but it was just a newer, shinier version of the previous box. It didn’t necessitate throwing out the old IT strategy and starting again. Today, an application vendor deciding to only release its updated version as a SaaS product means that a strategy to keep that application in-house for the foreseeable future changes. And perhaps it has a knock-on effect on other business applications – maybe it makes it too costly to keep other applications in-house.
The stakeholders responsible for a hybrid IT strategy have also changed. Shadow IT and the proliferation of cloud services means that the people involved in making a decision about the company’s hybrid IT strategy may be sitting in diverse roles across different departments of the business. They may, for example, have been purchasing their own cloud services for over 10 years and now have a key voice in decisions about future IT strategy of the organisation.
The business landscape of IT has changed dramatically over the last decade. IT strategy is now a top boardroom-level priority with more people taking notice and more people involved in making decisions.
So, the question is, do you have a hybrid IT strategy or has your company sorted it while you weren’t looking?