Industry analysts discuss mounting complexity of hybrid IT & multi-cloud sprawl

Successful enterprises understand that a powerful business strategy leverages technology to drive innovation

Yet in the race to embrace digital transformation, enterprises are hopping on the public cloud without fully understanding how different cloud models fit different IT needs.

In his BriefingsDirect Voice of the Analyst podcast series, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, sits down with leading IT industry analysts to discuss the mounting complexities businesses face as they transform their IT strategy. Gardner most recently met with Tim Crawford, CIO Strategic Advisor at AVOA in Los Angeles, to examine how economic elements of hybrid IT factor into effective cloud selection and adoption.

The risk of rushing in: technology misuse

In his interview, Crawford began by identifying a significant complexity that businesses face when some board of directors demand that their organizations “go cloud.” This misdirection is epidemic amongst businesspeople — perceiving a specific technology as an end, rather than as the means to drive a specific business initiative.

Many enterprises are going all-in on cloud, but aren’t considering that different cloud models — public, private, or software as a service (Saas) — have different uses and can be combined in various ways for any given application. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all answer,” said Crawford. And when companies do apply public cloud as a blanket solution, there have been measurable repercussions.

Crawford went onto say that if you do the math, taking an application from a corporate data center and moving it to public cloud will cost you more money. “Yet we hear the cloud is a lot cheaper. And why is that?” asked Crawford.

The analyst offers two answers:

  • First, IT enterprises don’t yet understand how to best leverage new tools such as cloud.
  • Second, they’re still approaching cloud from a traditional mindset. In recent years, cloud has transformed as both a delivery mechanism and a tool, so how it’s used and leveraged must also evolve. When public cloud is used appropriately — both organizationally and economically — it actually can be less expensive.

Learning to leverage hybrid cloud in your business strategy

To determine if your company is effectively leveraging hybrid cloud to drive business, Crawford suggests sorting through what’s strategic and what’s most important.

“Electrical power is an example. Is that strategic to your business? No. Is it important? Heck, yeah, because without it, we don’t run. But it’s not something where we’re going out and building power plants next to our office buildings just so we can have power, right?” said Crawford.

To help decipher differentiating usage, Crawford encourages IT decision makers to ask, why am I using cloud — public or private — for this purpose? If a company chooses to run its email system in the public cloud, it is satisfying a need, not leveraging a service. Making this distinction will help enterprises distinguish viable opportunities to drive business with cloud.

Gardner suggests that businesses also ask, “Am I consuming this in such a way that I’m getting it at the best price point?” This allows IT decision makers to quantify business value against economic value — is the payoff of public cloud worth four-times the expense?

“If you begin to understand the business value of the actions you take — how you leverage public cloud versus private cloud versus your corporate data center assets — and you match that against the strategic decisions of what is differentiating versus what’s not, then you get clarity around these decisions. You can properly leverage different resources and gain them at the price points that make sense,” said Crawford.

Your new role in IT: transformational leader

Digital transformation welcomes a transformation of roles— so where does that land modern IT professionals? According to Gardner, organizations now need help addressing a “cloud sprawl” that resulted from the rush to cloud, leaving organizations siloed in their IT strategy.

“Instead of being a technology-centric organization, IT really needs to be a business organization that leverages technology,” said Crawford. If they rise to this challenge, IT teams could serve as the next strategic brokers between IT functions and business outcomes.

Currently, Crawford suggests IT teams are in the best position to help organizations manage different delivery mechanisms — cloud, hybrid cloud, and on-premises infrastructure — to be used as business levers. He only asks what tools and mechanisms they will need to make this possible.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is focused on creating such a software tool. In June of this year, HPE announced Project New Hybrid IT Stack, which will enable enterprises to achieve a hybrid IT-driven digital transformation with broader visibility and management. Using this new tool, organizations will be able to seamlessly compose, operate, and optimize all workloads across on-premises, private, hosted, and public clouds. Using a single dashboard with built-in analytics and controls, application developers and IT operators can simply click or code to compose resources and services across their entire hybrid infrastructure.

With the right tools, enterprises can use economic measurements to identify the best cloud model to drive business success. The next step is fueling this approach with the expertise of IT teams — affirming their new role at the forefront of digital transformation.

HPE has assembled an array of resources that are helping businesses succeed in a hybrid IT world. Learn about HPE’s approach to managing hybrid IT by checking out the HPE website, Project New Hybrid IT Stack. And to find out how HPE can help you determine a workload placement strategy that meets your service level agreements, visit HPE Pointnext.

About the author

Chris Purcell drives analyst relations for the Software-Defined and Cloud Group at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The Software-Defined and Cloud Group organization is responsible for marketing for composable infrastructure, HPE OneView, HPE SimpliVity hyperconverged solutions and Project New Hybrid IT Stack.