The Stack Archive

Unlocking the hybrid cloud

Mon 19 Oct 2015

simon-aspinallAs the cloud market in EMEA has matured into one that changes business critical processes, Simon Aspinall, president EMEA & APAC software at Virtustream, argues that the focus must now fix upon helping IT move at the speed of business, not just delivering cost savings…

Helping enterprise organisations get the most out of their deployments is very much the calling card for hybrid cloud. Yet, Gartner has recently stated that we are still 2 or more years away from seeing widespread mainstream adoption of hybrid cloud. The analyst house goes on to claim that the technology currently lies in the ‘trough of disillusionment’, taken from its famous Hype Cycle model. So why has this perception of hybrid cloud been posited and how can both enterprise end users and cloud service providers ensure that hybrid cloud deployments reach their full potential?

A question of trust

The primary barrier that any cloud service provider has to overcome in carrying out a successful deployment, is the relationship with the internal IT department. Naturally, IT professionals will be concerned about elements of their IT environment being outsourced. Cloud providers have to understand this concern and manage the relationship accordingly.

The first step in building this trust is being proactive in terms of visibility of the IT environment. Without this trust the successful deployment of hybrid cloud is nigh on impossible and clearly, not enough cloud vendors are recognising this. A simple way in which cloud providers can remedy this is by giving end-users instant and consistent information on the status of the IT environment. This has to go beyond just one-time compliance adherence that companies expect today. Continuously monitoring the environment and making this transparent to the end-user organisations will give them a real idea of their performance rather than a point in time snapshot. For hybrid cloud deployments to work, the foundations must be set in place. Earning the trust of the IT department is key in opening the door to spreading the cultural change needed across an organisation considering a significant cloud migration. In practice cloud providers need to provide as much information about the applications running in a cloud as IT is used to having from its own operations.

A strong starting point

By building this relationship with the IT department, cloud providers put themselves in a strong position from which they can engender cultural change across an organisation. This is another critical reason that hybrid cloud deployments have flattered to deceive in some enterprise organisations. Regardless of the quality of the technology, the fact that many businesses aren’t implementing comprehensive change management programmes when migrating to the cloud is negating some of the real benefits and discouraging many from sticking with it; a reason for Gartner’s positioning of the ‘trough of disillusionment’. As ever, this change has to come from the top of an organisation, making the internal CIO’s role pivotal, in relaying the importance of the cloud to members of the board. If this is not implemented at an early enough stage, the benefits of a deployment can be lost and individual departments will not see the value in migrating and political barriers start to appear to cloud use.

Knowing where you stand

Beyond the building of relationships, another reason that the shift to hybrid cloud can fail is the lack of clarity over the responsibilities of a vendor and an end-user. Despite the management of elements of the IT environment being outsourced, many businesses are not made aware by cloud providers that they still have responsibilities to shoulder. To assume the cloud vendor will pick up everything is to take a big risk with the hybrid cloud model. Businesses need to be aware that whether they are dealing with setting security policies or controlling access to data, a firm agreement attributing these responsibilities must be in place. Not only will this provide end-users with documentation to provide to auditors when necessary, it will ensure total clarity and give businesses the best chance of getting optimum value from their cloud deployment.

There are reasons why Gartner is talking of a trough of disillusionment when it comes to cloud computing, but these are surmountable. In practice today most businesses are running a hybrid combination of onsite IT, private clouds and offsite public clouds – they’re just not managing them as a hybrid combination effectively today.  The technology is there and is currently driving business critical changes across EMEA. What is now needed is for organisations to pick up the baton of cultural change. Many businesses worldwide have successfully trodden this path and there is no reason to think that others can’t follow suit.


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