Bennett: It is time to debunk some hybrid cloud myths
Many companies face an ongoing dilemma: How to get the most out of legacy IT equipment and applications (many of which host mission-critical applications like their ERP, accounting/payroll systems, etc.), while taking advantage of the latest technological advances to keep their company competitive and nimble.
The combination of cloud and third-party datacentres has caused a shift in the way we approach building and maintaining our IT infrastructure. A best-of-breed approach previously meant a blending of heterogeneous technology solutions into an IT ecosystem. It now focuses on the services and technologies that remain on-premises and those that ultimately will be migrated off-premises.
A hybrid approach to IT infrastructure enables internal IT groups to support legacy systems with the flexibility to optimise service delivery and performance thru third-party providers. Reconciling resources leads to improved business agility, more rapid delivery of services, exposure to innovative technologies, and increased network availability and business uptime, without having to make the budget case for CAPEX investment. However, despite its many benefits, a blended on-premises and off-premises operating model is fraught with misconceptions and myths — perpetuating a “what-if?” type of mentality that often stalls innovation and business initiatives.
Here are the facts behind some of the most widespread hybrid IT myths:
Myth #1: “I can do it better myself.”
If you’re in IT and not aligned with business objectives, you may eventually find yourself out of a job. The hard truth is that you can’t be better at everything. Technology is driving change so rapidly that almost no one can keep up.
So while it’s not always easy to say “I can’t do everything as well as someone else can,” it’s perfectly acceptable to stick to what you’re good at and then evaluate other opportunities to evolve your business. In this case, outsourcing select IT functionality where you can realise improved capabilities and value for your business. Let expert IT outsource providers do what they do best, managing IT infrastructure for companies 24/7/365, while you concentrate on IT strategy to keep your business competitive and strong.
Myth #2: “I’ll lose control in a hybrid IT environment.”
A functional IT leader with responsibility over infrastructure that management wants to outsource may fear the loss of his or her team’s jobs. Instead, the day-to-day management of the company’s infrastructure might be better served off-premise, allowing the IT leader to focus on strategy and direction of the IT functions that differentiate her business in order to stay ahead of fast-moving market innovation and customer demands.
In the early days of IT, it was one size fits all. Today, an IT leader has more control than ever. For example, you can buy a service that comes with little management and spin resources up using imbedded API interfaces. The days where you bought a managed service and had no control, or visibility, over it are gone. With the availability of portals, plug-ins and platforms, internal resources have more control if they want their environment managed by a third party, or want the ability to manage it outright on their own.
Myth #3: “Hybrid IT is too hard to manage.”
Do you want to differentiate your IT capabilities as a means to better support the business? If you do want to manage it on your own, you need to have the people and processes in place to do so. An alternative is to partner with a service provider offering multiple off-premise options and a more agile operating model than doing all of it on your own. Many providers bundle management interfaces, orchestration, automation and portals with their offerings, which provides IT with complete transparency and granular control into your outsourced solution. These portals are also API-enabled to ensure these tools can be integrated into any internal tools you have already invested in, and provide end to end visibility into the entire Hybrid environment.
Myth #4: “Hybrid IT is less secure than my dedicated environment.”
In reality, today’s IT service providers are likely more compliant than your business could ever achieve on its own. To be constantly diligent and compliant, a company may need to employ a team of internal IT security professionals to manage day-to-day security concerns. Instead, it makes sense to let a team of external experts worry about data security and provide a “lessons-learned” approach to your company’s security practice.
There are cases where insourcing makes sense, especially when it comes to the business’ mission-critical applications. Some data should absolutely be kept as secure and as close to your users as possible. However, outsourced infrastructure is increasingly becoming more secure because providers focus exclusively on the technology and how it enables their users. For example, most cloud providers will encrypt your data and hand the key to you only. As a result, secure integration of disparate solutions is quickly becoming the rule, rather than the exception.
Myth #5: “Hybrid IT is inherently less reliable than the way we do it now.”
Placing computing closer to users and, in parallel, spreading it across multiple locations, will result in a more resilient application than if you had it in a fixed, single location. In fact, the more mission-critical the application becomes, the more you should spread it across multiple providers and locations. For example, if you build an application for the cloud you’re not relying on any one application component being up in order to fulfil its availability. This “shared nothing” approach to infrastructure and application design not only makes your critical applications more available, it also adds a level of scalability that is not available in traditional in-house only approaches.
Myth #6: “This is too hard to budget for.”
Today’s managed service providers can perform budgeting as well as reporting on your behalf. Again, internal IT can own this, empowering it to recommend whether to insource or outsource a particular aspect of infrastructure based on the needs of the business. However, in terms of registration, costs, and other considerations, partnering with a third-party service can become a huge value-add for the business.
Adopting a hybrid IT model lowers the risk of your IT resources and the business they support. You don’t have to make huge investments all at once. You can start incrementally, picking the options that help you in the short term and, as you gain experience, allow you the opportunity to jump in with both feet later. Hybrid IT lets you evolve your infrastructure as your business needs change.
If IT and technology has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t afford to let fear prevent your company from doing what it must to remain competitive.
Written by Mike Bennett, vice president global datacentre acquisition and expansion, CenturyLink EMEA