Integrating hybrid cloud for better organizational performance.

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Success. It’s what you want for any project, cloud or otherwise. What one trait do you think successful organizations share in identifying cloud opportunities and implementing integrated solutions? More than twice as many high-performing organizations report fully integrating their cloud initiatives compared to low-performing organizations.1

It stands to reason that decision-makers who want to be positioned for success and improve their bottom-line results should first consider how to integrate their cloud projects and associated cloud architectures.

Siloed efforts: What not to do

Implementing cloud initiatives in an ad hoc fashion reinforces silos among different business units in the organization. These silos create numerous disadvantages and risks, including the use of diverse, incompatible technologies, deviations from enterprise architecture principles, and funding duplicate functions — all of which contribute to ongoing technology integration challenges.

Full integration of cloud initiatives can be transformative efforts that transcend geographic, industry, organization and even ecosystem boundaries. Enterprises that maximize the power of cloud are better positioned to invent new customer needs, give birth to new markets and disrupt industry value chains.

Legacy: The constraint driving hybrid

Even as cloud adoption matures and expands, organizations we have surveyed expect that about 45 percent of their workloads2 will continue to need dedicated on-premise servers. That percentage has not changed significantly in the past two years.

As a result, hybrid cloud solutions — which by definition include a tailored mix of on-premises and public cloud services working in unison — are expected to be widely useful across industries. Each organization’s unique business conditions and requirements will define its optimal hybrid technology landscape.

Since not everything needs to be, or should be, moved to the cloud, organizations have important decisions to make. Which functions should they migrate and which should stay within an organization’s domain? The optimal hybrid environment will differ by individual enterprise. Executives need to decide which IT and business functions to move to the cloud — that is, which workloads can be delivered through cloud computing with a projectable, positive business outcome.

Where to begin

To achieve optimal results in your integrated hybrid cloud initiative, you’ll want to do the following:

  • 1. Deepen your understanding of business and financial implications of your cloud projects and then apply the knowledge to steer future cloud initiatives.

Cloud can be the centerpiece of an overall organizational transformation. Potential business impacts and the associated financial implications need ongoing scrutiny. During each stage of cloud adoption, combine the insights of business and IT. A tailor-made environment for your organization will be possible when IT employees truly understand what the business needs and LOB employees know what technologies and IT can do for them.

  • 2. Strengthen your ability to manage the complexity of multiple cloud ecosystem partners.

The ecosystem will be in continual development as you collaborate with value chain participants. Managing a dynamic and interdependent environment will require both a new mindset and new skills within your organization. Be cognizant of the increased complexity of cloud-based software licensing cost structures, especially for large-scale ERP systems.

  • 3. Expand internal capabilities and understand the security and compliance features of external solutions.

A company’s legacy data model and architecture design might limit their abilities to fully exploit cloud. By decoupling secure data and operational components from non-secure components, you’ll have more flexibility to migrate data — less-sensitive data, for example — to the cloud.

Select cloud vendors with a focus on security and compliance. Implement additional security and compliance measures specific to your needs. Establish strict control policies in house and educate employees to help avoid human risk, which is often the most uncontrollable type of risk.

Integrate cloud adoption with your business objectives

How important is integrating cloud adoption with your business objectives? Some 83 percent of high performers report that their cloud initiatives are coordinated or fully integrated within their enterprises.3

One example of a fully integrated initiative that helped meet corporate objectives is a new cloud platform created for online customer loyalty programs. Two of the largest banks in a South American country had limited time and resources available for scalable solutions to serve their more than 45 million customers.4

With the help of a leading cloud provider, their platform provider secured the platform resources needed to stand up the project for the joint venture. Within weeks, they built a front-end application layer on cloud and a back-end database on dedicated servers, establishing a hybrid environment with a scalable, cloud-based user interface and a high-performing, on-premises customer database. This enabled the banks to serve potentially high volumes of bank customers when needed, without tying up excessive capital.

Integrate to innovate

If you approach your own cloud initiative with foresight and strategic acumen, you can establish a hybrid platform that not only achieves your architectural requirements, but also makes a noticeable contribution to fulfilling your corporate objectives. Think about what will propel your organization into a leadership position. Then plan your cloud configuration to help you better manage your business and achieve your corporate goals.

For real examples of enterprises that have successfully migrated to the cloud, view my webinar Beyond Agility: The CIO’s guide to enterprise transformation with cloud.

If you have any questions, I would like to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment below or schedule time with me or someone on my team.

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1,2,3,4 IBM Institute for Business Value, “Tailoring hybrid cloud.” August 2016.

Partner, Global Lead, Cloud Adoption Services, Cloud Consulting Services

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