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Hybrid cloud, or the combination of on-premises data centers with one or more public or private cloud, is quickly becoming the go-to computing environment for enterprises looking to build modern applications.
Enterprises are now investing in cloud technologies at a faster rate than they are investing in other software technologies combined, according to McKinsey & Company. In fact, the research firm estimates that cloud spending will grow more than six times faster than other IT expenditures through next year. The advantages of the cloud are clear, including being able to deploy scalable, fast, always-available apps.
But how companies arrive at a hybrid cloud environment is not always so straightforward. Enterprises often struggle with how best to achieve the full benefits of hybrid cloud and many take very different paths to get there.
That said, as a company with many customers now using hybrid cloud, here is the typical path we see to hybrid cloud adoption.
1. No Hybrid Cloud Strategy
Companies that haven’t embraced hybrid cloud architectures run their main applications on-premises, with no cloud strategy evident organization-wide.
Individual lines of business might have deployed cloud applications for groups of users, but they are limited in scope. For example, they may use Gmail or other readily available productivity apps.
Such companies run the risk of getting left behind by faster-moving, more nimble competitors since legacy on-premises applications take more time to adapt to evolving organizational needs and don’t easily scale.
It's time to start looking for opportunities to migrate to hybrid clouds.
2. Opportunistic Cloud Adoption
At this stage, organizations have defined their first processes—the low-hanging fruit—that could benefit from cloud adoption. This is the first real step on the road to hybrid cloud adoption.
Here, organizations may use Software as a Service (SaaS) applications for more sophisticated functions beyond email to branch into more cloud apps, such as CRMs. Managers looking for more opportunities may even go “rogue” and make forays into development or use without involving the IT department.
Meanwhile, IT itself may begin to define an approach to cloud adoption and identify areas in which to create pilot projects for applying it.
Overall, however, adoption is not widely accepted throughout the organization, and overlapping legacy approaches still exist. Developing a hybrid cloud strategy is the key to reaching the next stage.
3. Standardized Cloud Adoption
Here, the cloud has been widely reviewed and accepted by both IT and lines of business that can benefit from it. The organization has also settled on tools and automation that make cloud adoption more efficient. The cloud adoption strategy has been documented, development standards are in place, and non-cloud approaches are now on the way out.
However, organizations at this stage still have many applications that don’t share data, creating data silos and limiting their effectiveness.
4. Optimized Cloud App Adoption
At the app convergence stage, cloud applications begin to simplify organizational processes. They also function closer to real time, unlike legacy on-premises applications. Overall, at this stage, organizations have fewer applications working more efficiently, improved security, and less maintenance overhead. They can now measure business impact in terms of agility and time to market.
But the data that apps require remains chaotic, likely siloed in different, incompatible systems, including legacy relational database management systems. As a result, data management overhead increases. Applications also reveal performance issues and have trouble scaling.
Corralling data is the job of the next stage.
5. Optimized Cloud Data Adoption
Organizations at this stage continue to roll out cloud-aware applications, increasing the need to integrate public, private, and hybrid cloud platforms. Data convergence makes this possible by eliminating silos of disparate data technologies and replacing them with a unified data fabric.
Now the full value of hybrid clouds can be realized as the organization discovers new value in a data fabric that eliminates data redundancy. This leads to new process models, such as microservices, that increase business efficiency and new business models that lead to increased revenue.
Data governance and autonomy now become the major challenges. Cloud vendor lock-in is a real risk, as are increasing challenges to compliance with data regulations.
It’s time to move to the ultimate stage of hybrid cloud maturity.
6. Better Multi-Cloud Adoption
Making full use of optimized, interoperable clouds gives organizations at this stage application and data agility while preserving data autonomy as well as increased availability if one cloud provider has an outage. This means that rather than remaining locked into any one provider, fully cloud-mature organizations take advantage of multiple clouds depending on availability and real-time business needs.
Effective data governance lets organizations maintain, optimize, and eventually retire apps and data to meet ever-changing business needs. It also aids regulatory compliance thanks to increased visibility.
Organizations that have reached this pinnacle of hybrid cloud maturity can’t afford to stand still, however. As the relentless pace of innovation persists, organizations must continue to invest in their cloud assets to stay ahead of competitors and on top of the shifting sands of customer needs.
Recognize your organization in any of these stages of hybrid cloud adoption? If so, the time may be ripe for you to advance to the next level.