It used to be that we associated the term “hybrid” with plug-in vehicles. But it turns out “hybrid” has an important role to play in the IT world, as well. As companies around the globe continue to explore new options in cloud and as-a-service (aaS) infrastructure, we’re seeing a delicate dance between cloud providers and on-site legacy systems—one where both partners have an equal chance to lead.
In fact, if you haven’t yet experimented with hybrid IT, you’re likely missing out on an important way to increase your company’s agility and competitiveness in today’s market. Hybrid allows businesses to use a combination of public cloud, private cloud, and onsite data centers to find the maximum flexibility and cost-effectiveness for their company. While there is no magic cocktail for every business, I’d argue there doesn’t have to be. The beautiful thing about hybrid IT is that it can be personalized for every company’s needs—and change along with it over time.
At one point, it seemed cloud and aaS would surely take over on-site physical data centers in the business world. But a recent study by Forbes Insights and Cisco showed two-thirds of enterprises have actually scaled back or even discontinued their use of public cloud in the past two years. Many are finding it’s easier and more cost efficient to monitor and manage data and other sensitive programs on the premises.
The growth of hybrid IT might give the false impression the cloud’s security promise has devolved into a patchwork blanket of solutions—mixed and matched from a multitude of sources. I’d say devolution has nothing to do with it. The new hybrid system is evidence of companies using the best parts of technologies that truly complement and move their businesses forward—which is exactly as it should be. The following are a few reasons why it’s working.
Hybrid IT is More Cost-Effective
Despite its promise, it turns out cloud management is not always cheaper than on-site legacy systems, at least when you factor in transition costs. In fact, a majority of executives in the Forbes Insights study noted above said their cost per transaction actually increased after moving to the public cloud infrastructure. For that reason, many companies are finding that the greatest overall cost savings comes from maintaining a careful blend of hybrid IT systems, with lower-level items moved to the public cloud, and other high-level programs moved to private or on-site locations. This kind of scalability is what makes hybrid IT so desirable. Companies no longer need to invest in high-level security for their entire systems—only that which truly requires it.
Legacy Systems Still have a Strong … Legacy
Despite continued improvements in cloud security, the top reason companies give for scaling back use of the public cloud is security and data sovereignty. It seems many are simply not ready to send the core of their business to the cloud quite yet. This is especially true for those in highly-regulated businesses like healthcare and finance, where a transition to public or private cloud would be challenging or cost-prohibitive—at least for now. It makes sense that these industries may choose to keep onsite data centers in close range, while exporting other less secure workloads to the cloud.
Hybrid is Flexible and Secure
In today’s business world, agility and growth potential are vital to any company’s success. Hybrid IT allows businesses to grow and adapt quickly and easily, with relatively lower costs than growing one’s physical data center. Indeed, private clouds today are highly customizable, and both private and public clouds offer increasingly stringent security standards that can be scaled up or down quickly for each individual company’s needs, be it a new product roll-out or a seasonal employee surge.
Indeed, despite its perceived shortcomings or growing pains, cloud is not going anywhere. The average company today is using cloud services from five to 10 vendors. By focusing on open source technology and increasingly secure functionality, hybrid IT will only get stronger as the digital transformation continues, and the responsibility of finding the right hybrid solution will continue to fall on each individual company’s shoulders.
As one writer accurately stated, adding cloud-based IT to an in-house infrastructure is “more of a journey” than a one-time decision. Gone are the days of moving to cloud simply because it’s trendy or affordable. It may take some time experimenting to find the right mix of solutions to fit your needs, but I’m confident the right blend of hybrid IT solutions can bring cost savings and efficiency to nearly any business.
Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.