The need for IT to be more agile to support the growing business needs in a highly connected environment and at the same time keeping a tab on costs is prompting many CIOs to explore new ways to configure their IT infrastructure. This is giving rise to a new (old) breed of hybrid IT infrastructure enabling CIOs to integrate their existing legacy systems with new and innovative options of utilizing IT to deliver the WOW experience to their customers.
A recent survey of 550 IT leaders (CIOs, IT directors, vice president IT, senior IT managers) done by Vanson Bourne, a research-based technology marketing consultancy, revealed that for at least the next five years, most organizations will use a hybrid mix of outsourced services – data center colocation, managed services and cloud – along with in-house systems.
But what exactly is a hybrid IT infrastructure? Put simply, hybrid IT is an infrastructure option that includes an internal IT set up complemented with an external option (data center hosting, colocation and cloud). Having a hybrid IT infrastructure is advantageous as it enables organizations to consolidate, unify and scale up resources, thereby, enhancing their functionality to create highly responsive and adaptive IT infrastructures.
Hybrid IT should not be confused with hybrid cloud. A hybrid cloud (private + public) is a subset of the bigger hybrid IT strategy.
Hybrid IT Enhance Agility
CIOs and their teams are always under pressure, as business demands IT infrastructures that support innovation and also provide speed to market. And all this with no incremental costs. These constant demands to innovate and speedup time to market are forcing many IT departments to rethink the way technologies are being used. Most IT departments today are evaluating ways to leverage their current infrastructures along with new options of deploying technologies but at the same time keeping control over certain processes and systems. In short – optimizing the IT infrastructure to meet growing business needs.
Adopting a hybrid IT approach enables organizations to have a customized infrastructure that suits their specific needs and can be further customized as per the changing market and business environment. A hybrid IT infrastructure goes a long way in providing a flexible, scalable and a high performance driven technology environment that supports current and future business demands. Thus, a technology refresh or obsolescence (in future) is no longer a key concern and the IT department can focus on more strategic initiatives.
Hybrid IT enables business enterprises to: Run the business – Outsource hosting, security, server virtualization, etc resulting in optimizing key operations and lowering the associated costs. The internal IT departments can focus on innovating new ways to drive strategic initiatives; and grow the business – Deciding on what processes/workloads need to move to a hosted environment and what needs to kept on-premise, developing and deploying new applications. This helps organizations to speedup time to market, accelerating delivery cycles and giving way to innovations to deliver new products and services.
Business needs of organizations will determine the optimal mix of services they require. Every company needs to identify the business priorities and metrics that are key to succeeding and then map these to the IT imperatives needed to drive these objectives.
To determine the right mix of IT infrastructure for supporting the business needs one first need to analyze these needs against several parameters including risk and security, OpEx vis-a-vis CapEx and business agility. This is very much like a game of blocks where according to one need(s) one can build the blocks to form a ship or an airplane or a bus.
Mitigating risk and maximizing agility are the likely reasons why many CIOs are opting for colocation for their mission critical applications. Colocation helps them to reduce disruption to business applications and maintain control over them. Colocation is essentially moving the existing applications and servers to a third party data center that assures you of a highly reliable and robust infrastructure and guaranteed uptime built in to the service level agreements (SLAs).
A good example for colocation is the financial sector – data center colocation in this case ensures security of mission critical applications carrying proprietary information. These firms may use cloud for other functions like creating development and test environments or running proof-of-concept tests of big data analysis algorithms.
Most companies use on-demand and pay as you use model for unpredictable spikes in business when it becomes necessary to scale up the infrastructure on a fly. Having dedicated infrastructure and managed services for workloads that are more predictable and can be planned for is more economical.
Generating Revenue Streams
IT is not just the underlying infrastructure for a business enterprise; it enables business processes. Enterprises need flexible and scalable IT infrastructures that can flex and bend with them. Outsourcing thus becomes an advantage, whether it is managed hosting for transaction-intensive businesses, cloud services for workloads or application production and testing or entire platforms.
Increasing Business Agility
Managed services including cloud, provided by external service providers enable business enterprises to adapt and become responsive to a changing business environment. Scaling up during business spikes, scaling down when not required, adding services for business expansion and growth and allowing businesses to focus on their core competencies brings in the much desired agility in a competitive marketplace.
An external service provider not only provides the desired solutions but also expert advice on achieving an optimal hybrid IT mix for the company.
Reducing Capital Expenditure (CapEx)IT
Opting for colocation or a managed hosting model helps companies to do away with CapEx associated with building a state of the art data center with world-class energy and cooling facilities. These savings can be put to more strategic use for growing and expanding the business.
Adhering To Security And Compliance
The financial services and the pharma sector have to comply with mandatory regulatory and compliance guidelines. Managed hosting services providers of today provide strong multi-level technology, policies, and procedures to protect their customers’ businesses, systems and data.
Future Is Hybrid IT
Key to success of a hybrid IT strategy is an organization’s ability to integrate outsourced and in-house IT services to ensure smooth delivery of business capabilities to its customers. The current opinion is that this year will see an increasing trend towards data center colocation as the dominant delivery model as business organizations move to outsourced services while still retaining control over their IT infrastructure. Colocation is the first step towards their journey to a hybrid cloud.
IT will play a main role in increasing performance in the near future, hence IT leaders are finding ways to reduce costs and increase scalability, agility and flexibility coupled with better service and security. The time for Hybrid IT has finally arrived and IT decision makers now need to adopt this strategy to have an edge vis-a-vis others.
Girish Sharma, assistant general manager, Netmagic Solutions