Don’t let cloud exuberance stop other IT infrastructure investments

By | 3 minute read | March 30, 2020

From time to time, we invite industry thought leaders to share their opinions and insights on current technology trends to the IBM Systems IT Infrastructure blog. The opinions in these posts are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of IBM.

Cloud computing is a growing component of modern IT infrastructure and it will continue to grow into the foreseeable future… but on-premises computing is not going away. Nor should it!

There are many reasons to continue to embrace and even expand your existing on-premises workloads. Compliance, latency requirements, security and data protection, cost issues, and productivity (among others) are all valid reasons to run computing workloads on premises instead of shifting to the cloud.

IBM commissioned Forrester Consulting to evaluate how organizations develop and implement their IT infrastructure strategies. The results were published recently in a study titled The Key to Enterprise Hybrid Multicloud Strategy. And this study clearly backs up the premise of this blog post, that the future is hybrid and not everything will migrate to the cloud.

Indeed, one of the key findings of the study is that the push to public cloud doesn’t mean organizations have stopped investing in on premises. Organizations are increasing their funding for on-premises infrastructure at about the same rate as they are increasing cloud funding. While 82 percent of organizations are planning to increase spending on public cloud, 85 percent are planning to increase spending on existing infrastructure, outside of public cloud.

To me, this is not surprising. Given that many of the applications running on your on-premises IT infrastructure are running your business (that is, they are mission critical), it stands to reason that organizations should want to keep them maintained, operational, and efficient. And that requires investment.

We must never forget that the benefit of the applications that run on premises is substantial. These on-premises applications were built over time, perhaps over many decades, and they embody your core business processes. A pragmatic approach means that your existing enterprise applications must not only be maintained, but perhaps bolstered and improved. This is especially so because many of these applications are being used more heavily than ever before as organizations embrace digital transformation, analytical processing and mobile computing.

If you cease to invest in your existing software and hardware that runs your critical applications, it should be no surprise when they stop working efficiently or stop working altogether. Investing in the updates and refreshes required to keep your IT infrastructure operational is important, but unfortunately updates and refreshes tend to be the first thing that fall off the agenda when time/budget is a restriction. It is the silent risk that nobody is talking about.

Isn’t everything going to the cloud?

But what about the industry predictions that everything will be moving to the cloud? This is another example of tech industry over-exuberance. Whenever I hear an absolute term like “everything” I immediately doubt its veracity. Let me put it bluntly: everything will not be moving to the cloud. The cost and effort to do so would not deliver a reasonable return on the investment. There are two primary reasons why this is so:

  • The majority of existing applications were not built with an understanding of the public cloud and it would take a lot of investment to re-engineer them to properly take advantage of a public cloud architecture.
  • Even if demand is high, cloud service providers (CSPs) can’t build out their infrastructure fast enough to support all the existing data center capacity “out there” to immediately support everything.

Finally, there are scenarios that do not fit well in public cloud, perhaps in terms of pricing structure or compliance requirements.

The bottom line

The future is hybrid… namely, hybrid multicloud. I’ve written about hybrid multicloud here on the IBM IT Infrastructure blog before, so if that term confuses you be sure to click over and read my definition.

On-premises computing has its place in today’s IT infrastructure and it undoubtedly will in the future. As will, of course, public and private cloud. The bottom line is, and should always be, that you utilize the appropriate platform and technology for the task at hand. And many times, that will mean running applications on your IT infrastructure on premises.

Don’t let cloud obsession curtail your other IT infrastructure investments!