As pressure grows to develop an agile business, automate core IT operations, and scale to meet customer demand, you’re likely considering how cloud can help further your business success. It’s a question many Australian mid-market organisations are deliberating too, and acting upon. According to Telsyte’s Australian Cloud Market Study 2019, more than 77 per cent of Australian organisations have adopted more than one cloud platform, and almost half are using more than four cloud platforms.
But, not everything belongs in a public cloud. And likewise, not everything needs to stay on premise, which is why many Australian mid-market companies are considering a hybrid environment. It offers the benefits of both public and private clouds, while also taking advantage of existing architecture on premise. Afterall, you’ve likely spent years building a considerable IT infrastructure in house, with applications and data often integrated across multiple servers or data racks;you don’t want to or simply cannot migrate to a single new instance of cloud..
But how do you know if hybrid is right for your business and you’re ready to move across? Moving along the pathway to becoming a full-fledged digital business means creating a more productive workplace and meeting ever-changing customer demand. And that requires increased organisational agility. The ability to adapt and change direction quickly is a core principle of today’s digital business.
As the business demands the capacity to manoeuvre at a moment’s notice, or to keep essential data secure, you know (and are likely communicating to your executives) that placing all workloads and applications on premise, or even in public cloud, isn’t viable.
If this sounds like a common discussion, here’s five indications you’re probably ready to move into a hybrid environment.
1. You need to distinguish between different types of workloads to drive greater efficiencies in the business
Given the depths that IT now spans across and into the business, along with the need to optimise and be as efficient as possible, you need to consider how best to manage workloads.
For example, applications critical to online customer engagement like web sites, need speed and agility to respond to demand. To cater for these dynamic and often changing workloads, both private and public cloud are more suitable. While other workloads facilitate sensitive company information or vital interactions and transactions, such as customer information, business strategy or financial details, need to remain on premise.
You simply need to understand the type of workloads that need to go into the different environments you want to run, which requires deep consultation with the business. But crucially, you also need to ensure integration between differing environments. Otherwise, you’ll end up with silos of data and failure to gather and analyse information holistically.
2. Your data requirements need to flex in line with ever-changing customer trends and to meet demand far quicker
Let’s face it, not all data is created equal. And neither is the ability (or need) of the organisation to produce and process data at constant levels all year round. Data volumes will go up and down, depending on your business demands. So too does the urgency with which data needs to be processed.
As with your workloads, some of your data needs to be processed and analysed quickly; it needs to stay close to those who need it most, enabling them to make the best decisions.
For example, customer opportunities need quick resolution, which means some of your big data analytics needs highly scalable multi-cloud resources. On the flipside, sensitive data needs to stay behind the company firewall, which is where the private cloud will provide optimum data security.
3. Your temporary processing capacity needs have increased as a result of working in an agile environment
The days of big, drawn-out projects are few and far between. Now, you’re likely focused on much shorter, iterative projects to cater for the ever-changing demands and patterns of the business.
While previously you may have required a certain amount of resources over a significant period of time, now it doesn’t make sense to invest in that type of infrastructure for the long term.
To cater for a more agile work environment, the flexibility of hybrid cloud lets you allocate a choice of cloud resources for short-term projects; and at a much lower cost than using your own data centre infrastructure. That way, you don’t overspend on equipment you’ll need only periodically.
4. Your IT team is too focused on manual, day to day operational tasks, detracting from the real needs of the business
True of most mid-market businesses, your team probably spends a significant amount of time on basic operational tasks; and it’s hurting the business too. In an ideal world, they should be automated. Instead of having conversations about how IT can innovate and enable business strategy, you’re stuck in the quagmire of making sure applications run at their optimum for example.
Automation is one of the key tenets of hybrid cloud. So, instead of humans trying to work out which workloads should sit where, automation (through policies designed by your team) enables them to be continually shifted and balanced based upon a variety of factors, including cost, storage, networking, security, and performance to name but a few. With machines taking care of the functional tasks, your IT staff can focus on areas of strategic value to the business.
5. You’re finding everything is less and less certain. Plans change regularly and you need far greater flexibility in your future plans
While previously you may have stuck fairly rigidly to a yearly (or even longer) plan, things change fast now. The business needs to pivot based on demand – but that doesn’t help you or your ability to scale a moment’s notice.
Sometimes, things can change month by month, let alone year by year. A hybrid approach enables you to match your actual requirements to the specific environment or resources best able to handle them.
Can you afford not to?
While you may find your head nodding at many of these scenarios, complexity, fear of change and cost are all factors you’re likely worried about too. Granted, building a hybrid computing environment isn’t easy. But, perhaps the question you should be asking yourself is, ‘Can I afford not to?’ With the pressure to digitalise, drive greater efficiencies, keep data secure and meet customer expectations head on, a hybrid cloud environment will set you on the right pathway for years to come.