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In the cloud business, there’s plenty of “tech talk” about APIs, containers, object storage and any number of other IT topics.
I don’t discount its value, but my view of cloud is a little different because my job begins and ends with IBM clients’ success in adopting cloud, nothing more or less. As a result, I get a daily, ground-level view of what enterprise CIOs, line-of-business leaders and other decision makers experience when adopting cloud technology.
Here’s what I hear from them:
- They believe in the cloud so much that they’re literally betting their businesses on it.
- They’ve decided a hybrid cloud strategy is the right approach.
- They aren’t thinking so much about infrastructure as about innovation and speed—basically,the “second wave” of cloud computing, which includes analytics for structured and unstructured data and security capabilities.
They also understand that cloud isn’t a destination, but rather a platform for innovation. It’s where they can dream big, start small, experiment and scale when successful. In these organizations, CTOs and CIOs become advocates of “the art of the possible.”
Hybrid is the palette they’re painting with, best expressed by the analysts at Frost and Sullivan: “At their core, successful hybrid cloud strategies support the delivery of high-value applications and services to the business, while at the same time driving cost and inefficiency out of the IT infrastructure.”
Fine, but how does adopting a hybrid cloud strategy support business success?
Successful enterprises provide the answer. They aren’t simply grabbing cloud technology for its own sake. Instead, they’re pursuing a business strategy that’s equal parts transformation and industry disruption. They have a deep faith that cloud and cognitive technology will cause changes in customers’ experiences, vastly improve business processes and operations, and improve insight and innovation across all aspects of their companies’ missions.
Look at how these companies are doing it:
- Shop Direct, one of the UK’s largest online retailers, wanted to improve its customers’ shopping experiences. To do so, it needed greater IT performance and flexibility. By taking a hybrid approach and migrating critical workloads to a fully managed cloud environment, Shop Direct improved its ability to react to market changes, launch strategic digital initiatives and create an easier, more personalized online experience.
- Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc.(CCE), an independent Coca-Cola bottler based in the United States, operates 17 manufacturing sites across Europe. In today’s crowded soft-drink market, the company wanted to stay relevant to consumers by engaging them more creatively, interactively and personally. Mobile fit the bill. To make this happen, CCE needed to bring its business systems into a global cloud environment. By using a hybrid strategy, it reduced the time to deploy new applications by more than 30 percent while creating new forms of customer engagement.
- Anthem, the health benefits company, wanted to simplify IT, reduce risk and develop products faster. By using a cloud orchestration tool and bare metal services—both marks of a hybrid strategy—Anthem accelerated system provisioning time from 17 days down to seven hours. It has also consolidated its subsidiaries’ standalone IT into one scalable platform that can respond rapidly to changing business needs.
In this second wave of cloud, where hybrid is the strategy of choice, it’s no longer only about cheap computing and storage. Instead, cloud has become the platform for innovation and business value. It is the IT delivery model that impacts the entire enterprise.
If anything, hybrid’s bringing enterprises into the third wave of cloud: cognitive computing, the next frontier of innovation. Increasingly, cognitive capabilities are being embedded in applications and they’ll be the next game changer. Hybrid enterprise leaders will use cognitive for natural human engagement and a deeper understanding of dark data. They’ll uncover insights into their businesses that they couldn’t have achieved even a year ago. And it will get them even closer to their customers.
For more about hybrid cloud strategy, read Frost & Sullivan’s “Using Hybrid Cloud Strategy to Drive Business Value.”