Written by Jonathan Barrett
Is hybrid IT inevitable? That’s a question we ask customers a lot. From our discussions with CIOs and CEOs there is one overriding response and that is the need for change. It is very clear that across all sectors, CEOs are challenging their IT departments to innovate – to come up with something different.
Established companies are seeing new threats coming into the market. These new players are lean, hungry and driving innovation through their use of IT solutions. Our view is that more than 70 percent of all CEOs are putting a much bigger ask on their IT departments than they did a few years ago.
There has never been so much focus on the CIO or IT departmental manager from a strategic standpoint. IT directors need to demonstrate how they can drive more uptime, improve the customer experience, or enhance the e-commerce proposition for instance, in a bid to win new business. For them, it is time to step up to the plate. But in reality there’s little or no increase in budget to accommodate these new demands.
We call the difference between what the IT department is being asked to do, and what it is able to do, the resources gap. Seemingly, with the rate of change in the IT landscape increasing, the demands on CIO’s by the business increasing and with little or no increase in IT budgets from one year to the next, that gap is only going to get wider.
But by changing their way of working, companies can free up additional resources to go and find their innovative zeal and get closer to meeting their business’ demands. Embracing Hybrid IT as their infrastructure strategy can extend the range of resources available to companies and their ability to meet business demands almost overnight.
Innovate your way to growth
A Hybrid IT environment provides a combination of its existing on-premise resources with public and private cloud offerings from a third party hosting company. Hybrid IT has the ability to provide the best of both worlds – sensitive data can still be retained in-house by the user company, whilst the cloud, either private or public, provides the resources and computing power that is needed to scale up (or down) when necessary.
Traditionally, 80 percent of an IT department’s budget is spent just ‘keeping the lights on’. That means using IT to keep servers working, powering desktop PCs, backing up work and general maintenance etc.
But with the CEO now raising the bar, more innovation in the cloud is required. Companies need to keep their operation running but reapportion the budget so they can become more agile, adaptable and versatile to keep up with today’s modern business needs.
This is where Hybrid IT comes in. Companies can mix and match their needs to any type of solution. That can be their existing in-house capability, or they can share the resources and expertise of a managed services provider. The cloud can be private – servers that are the exclusive preserve of one company – or public, sharing utilities with a number of other companies.
Costs are kept to a minimum because the company only pays for what they use. They can own the computing power, but not the hardware. Crucially, it can be switched on or off according to needs. So, if there is a peak in demand, a busy time of year, a last minute rush, they can turn on this resource to match the demand. And off again.
This is the journey to the Hybrid cloud and the birth of the agile, innovative market-focused company.
Meeting the market needs
Moving to hybrid IT is a journey. Choosing the right partner to make that journey with is crucial to the success of the business. In the past, businesses could get away with a rigid customer / supplier relationship with their service provider. Now, there needs to be a much greater emphasis on creating a partnership so that the managed services provider can really get to understand the business. Only by truly getting under the skin of a business can the layers be peeled back to reveal a solution to the underlying problem.
The relationship between customer and managed service provider is now also much more strategic and contextual. The end users are looking for outcomes, not just equipment to plug a gap.
As an example, take an airline company operating in a highly competitive environment. They view themselves as being not in the people transportation sector, but as a retailer providing a full shopping service (with a trip across the Atlantic thrown in). They want to use cloud services to take their customer on a digital experience, so the minute a customer buys a ticket is when the journey starts.
When the passenger arrives at the airport, they need to check in, choose the seats they want, do the bag drop and clear security all using on-line booking systems. Once in the lounge, they’ll access the Wi-Fi system, check their Hotmail, browse Facebook, start sharing pictures etc. They may also choose last minute adjustments to their journey like changing their booking or choosing to sit in a different part of the aircraft.
Merely saying “we’re going to do this using the cloud” is likely to lead to the project misfiring. As a good partner the service provider should have the experience of building and running traditional infrastructure environments and new based on innovative cloud solutions so that they can bring ‘real world’ transformation experience to the partnership. Importantly they must also have the confidence to demonstrate digital leadership and understand of the business and its strategy to add real value to that customer as it undertakes the journey of digital transformation.
Costs can certainly be rationalised along the way. Ultimately with a hybrid system you only pay for what you use. At the end of the day, the peak periods will cost the same, or less, than the off-peak operating expenses. So, with added security, compute power, speed, cost efficiencies and ‘value-added’ services, hybrid IT can provide the agility businesses need.
With these solutions, companies have no need to ‘mind the gap’ between the resources they need and the budget they have. Hybrid IT has the ability to bridge that gap and ensure businesses operate with the agility and speed they need to meet the needs of the competitive modern world.
Written by Jonathan Barrett, Vice President of Sales, CenturyLink, EMEA