Mastering the hybrid cloud journey to business outcomes

By Mark Bennett, Senior Partner, EMEA Cloud Platforms Leader, IBM Consulting.

British business is on a mission to modernise. Business and consumer attitudes changed irreversibly during the pandemic and leaders are now looking to innovate to ensure services and operations are fit for the future.

One of the central drivers of innovation has been the adoption of hybrid cloud as the prevalent IT architecture for business. In fact, a recent IBM survey found 99% of UK organisations reported using a hybrid cloud environment last year. Organisations realise there is no one-size fits all approach to cloud. They want to meld on-premises, private and public cloud capabilities - sharing data, building and hosting applications in the most relevant environment, to develop and run new products and services.

While it is no longer a question of whether you are all-in on hybrid cloud, the question is how far along are you on the journey?

With every journey, there are hurdles to overcome. Too often, we see cloud adoption lose momentum and stall before investments start to pay off, stopping short of a tipping point where the ROI from improvements in business performance balances and then outpaces cloud implementation costs. This prevents organisations from taking advantage of a deeper, business-driven “mastery” of hybrid cloud.

Hybrid cloud mastery is a highly evolved way of operating your hybrid cloud platform that fundamentally improves and even transforms business performance. The key is how enterprises already on their cloud journey can truly achieve this mastery.

In our daily interactions with clients across multiple industries, we have found five common challenges standing in the way of mastering the hybrid cloud and accelerating the realisation of business value.

The Architecture Challenge

The pandemic created a “get to the cloud” urgency, forcing companies to utilise current and new technologies, including public, private, and on-prem assets that weren’t integrated. There was no cohesive structure to bind them.

Mastery means moving from “multiple clouds” to a single, integrated hybrid cloud platform. Rather than having discrete components that accomplish little on their own, it’s the whole system that delivers what you need, meaning a dramatic improvement in software application development and production.

The People & Operations Challenge

When people from different cloud operations are grouped together in different areas, it often leads to work being completed in silos. Talent shortages have left companies with too few developers and engineers to go around, leaving talent spread too thin to cover all areas.

Mastering the hybrid cloud ensures that employees have the critical cloud skills needed to do their work efficiently and effectively in an integrated way across a single hybrid cloud operating model.

The Security Challenge

Security concerns existed long before the cloud, but with lack of integration of cloud components, the security risk is even greater.

Reviewing how to master hybrid cloud environments will focus attention upon developing a unified security programme that transforms a company’s culture to be security-aware and security-first. This ensures the security policies, capabilities and procedures across the hybrid cloud platform are consistent, allowing companies to see security incidents across operations and take quick action.

The Financial Challenge

The cost of moving data is just one financial impediment executives face, with some stating costs could go up by as much as 50%. Additionally, when costs rise or become unpredictable, it makes it more difficult to manage cloud investments.

Mastering hybrid cloud manages all cloud costs through a single view so businesses can view how and where cloud services are being consumed across the entire enterprise, allowing business priorities to be directly matched with optimised cloud costs.

The Partner Ecosystem Challenge

Businesses are overwhelmed by the number of ecosystem partners involved in their hybrid cloud journey. Each group involved, whether internal or external brings their own naturally competing interests. But no one can go it alone.

Mastering hybrid cloud brings all partners together towards a common set of objectives, aligned under one strategy for success. Picture a round table where each constituency of your hybrid cloud mastery journey (your hybrid cloud ecosystem) is represented by a senior “captain” who works together in a collaborative, transparent way.

Our experience suggests practical steps to get started with addressing these challenges. A prime example of success is our partnership with a global soft drink bottler, which accelerated its transformation to an open hybrid cloud environment. A key priority for this bottling company was to streamline its existing IT infrastructure to create an integrated hybrid cloud platform for unified business processes, data, and technology. This created a springboard from which to apply data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and AI technologies to provide new insights across its operations to help drive further efficiencies.

This example showcases that once a business has mastered the hybrid cloud, it will help a company achieve its technical and business objectives more effectively than public cloud or private cloud alone and ultimately unlock a broad range of value propositions such as speed, scalability, security, cost and control, becoming a central driver of innovation for years to come.

By Terry Storrar, Managing Director UK, Leaseweb.
By Naveen Thomas, Director – Technology Consulting, EY.
By Attar Naderi, Associate Director EMEA at Laserfiche.
By Mike Hicks, Principal Solutions Analyst, Cisco ThousandEyes.
By Jan Oetjen, CEO of GMX and, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the European netID Foundation.
By Nick Bannister, vice president sales for Arrow’s enterprise computing solutions business in the UK and Ireland.