Hybrid IT seems to be the newest enterprise technology buzzword. There has been a lot of writing and discussion about it but it’s not clear enterprises understand what it is (and isn’t) and its benefits (and potential pitfalls). I sat down with Verizon’s Dan Jablonski, director of cloud and IT solutions product management, to talk about hybrid IT and how it can address a lot of the challenges enterprises experience with current multi-cloud deployments, while paving the way for what’s next. Done correctly, hybrid IT can help improve manageability of the cloud and drive digital transformation for enterprises.
Q: What exactly is hybrid IT?
A: Hybrid IT represents the best of both worlds for many enterprises. It ties together on-premises, private and public cloud deployments to create a unified infrastructure using APIs and orchestration services.
This way, organizations can select what environment makes the most sense for each application. For example, private cloud requirements make sense for certain sensitive workloads such as financial applications, while test/dev applications are usually suitable for the public cloud.
By unifying the cloud infrastructure, enterprises can take advantage of greater agility, flexibility, scalability, and reduced costs.
Q: Why does hybrid IT makes sense for enterprises?
A: With cloud, it’s quick and simple to add more resources when needed and that’s vital when your customers want everything now; when your market is constantly being disrupted by the newest kid on the block; and when your infrastructure is straining to cope with the latest innovations.
Hybrid IT allows you to benefit from cloud’s scalability while retaining legacy systems—all within a coherent, connected infrastructure. For example, often times legacy systems are too expensive, enmeshed and ingrained to refactor or decommission, making hybrid IT the perfect option.
And when you look down the road, it’s another step into the world of software-defined everything that ultimately ensures the best use of your resources, such as finding capacity when it’s needed and establishing rules that allocate resources automatically based on demand and workload requirements.
Q: I understand hybrid IT is the next evolution for cloud. Can you explain?
A: Many organizations have now adopted a “cloud-first” strategy. It’s the de facto choice for workloads like web apps and test/dev.
Our research shows it’s also increasingly being used for mission-critical systems by organizations of all sizes. That’s because it’s more scalable and flexible than legacy systems. You don’t have to pay upfront for hardware you might not need in the long run—you can pay as you go.
But to get the flexibility needed to adapt business models, companies are relying on multiple clouds—all connected. Organizations are “cloud bursting” to take advantage of public cloud when they need more capacity to analyze data and gain valuable customer insights.
Enterprises are buying services off-the-shelf to get the latest functionality their customers expect without the development time and costs, and they’re striving to get every last bit of value from their legacy systems.
Hybrid IT lets companies take advantage of the benefits of IT-as a-service and “cloud economics” no matter what the underlying infrastructure, and it lets enterprises move to cloud at their own pace.
Q: What’s the role of the network?
A: The network is absolutely fundamental to both cloud and hybrid IT. It’s what connects it all together. Hybrid IT requires a network that’s secure, reliable and scalable. The latest network technologies, like software-defined networking (SDN), let you view the network in its totality and route traffic to available capacity in near-real time.
SDN networks enable enterprises to change capacity, routing and service provisioning to respond to changes in demand, failure or attack.
Organizations are looking for networks that offer greater value and can support change and agility. They want clearer SLAs within flexible agreements and they expect high availability because today nothing else is acceptable.
Q: What advice do you give companies looking to take the next step?
A: Here are my top 3 tips:
1) Consider what workloads your business needs to deliver now and in the future. What business outcomes do you need to support? And which require traditional IT mechanisms or would be best served by a cloud-only approach? You should also look to shadow IT to identify where you need to increase flexibility. Your infrastructure should be enabling your business goals, not holding you back.
2) Review your network. Make sure it’s aligned and optimized to connect your resources around the world in a coherent, consistent and stable way. For a lot of organizations, the network is the biggest barrier to business initiatives. You need to get it right up front.
3) Look for partners to help you make the necessary transition. Make sure any potential partners are using the right tools and processes and have their own partner ecosystem for enabling their customers. It’s also advisable to find a partner that can grow with you, instead of one you may outgrow.