Is Your Enterprise Ready for Hybrid IT?5 Minute Read

 In Data Center

The deal involving the acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon was recently completed, sending tremors throughout the food and grocery industries across the country.  The deal completes a liaison between the brick and mortar world of Whole Foods and the modern online presence of Amazon.  This new partnership incorporates the strength of both models, formulating a “best of breed” archetype for both companies.  Despite the far-reaching dominance that Amazon has achieved, it has realized that it still must incorporate some element of traditional retail presence to expand their customer base and provide greater service

This same scenario is being replicated within IT today. While companies are transferring rapidly going about digitizing themselves and transferring applications and resources to the cloud, some assets still must reside in the on premise datacenter.  This is usually attributed to one of the following reasons:

  • Many enterprise applications are not cloud compatible
  • Company security policies concerning data sovereignty and proprietary data may force on premise hosting of some data
  • Industry or government compliancy regulations

IT Must Become Business Centric
This digital transformation has catapulted IT to a role of prominence, innovation and leadership.  At the same time, IT is no different from any other department in that IT investment and strategies must align with those of the organization. IT must understand more than just technology architectures; it must understand the business drivers and goals of the company that it serves.  Internal IT is discovering that business units within their companies will find their own IT solutions if their needs cannot be efficiently accommodated internally.  This scenario is what Gartner refers to as Shadow IT.  Users today demand speed, simplicity and scalability and are prepared to go outside of their organizations to do it.  Internal IT in turn must look to its users and fellow business units as customers and must not look to the cloud as a competitor to the enterprise, but as a component extension to the datacenter.

The cloud offers unprecedented levels of agility and flexibility that a hardware centric datacenter cannot match.  At the same time, there are aspects of the datacenter that must reside within traditional IT.  This creates what Gartner refers to as “bi-modal IT.”  In order to deal with the challenge of dual environments within the enterprise, 63% of organizations today are implementing a Hybrid IT infrastructure according to the Harvard Business Review.  The Cambridge dictionary defines the phrase as, a situation in which you can enjoy the advantages of two very different things at the same time.  Technically, Hybrid IT is made up of two worlds, one being the traditional on premise datacenter, the other being one or more clouds.  The traditional world is built around the principles of predictability, controllability, stability and maximum security.  Cloud computing on the other hand is an exploratory world that emphasizes agility, automation, speed and maximum availability.

To use an effective analogy, think of a hybrid automobile.  Just as Hybrid IT is composed of both on and off premise infrastructure, a hybrid automobile consists of two engines, a modern day electric motor and a traditional gasoline engine.  The car is managed by a software management system designed to deliver optimum levels of fuel efficiency and performance.  When accelerating from a full stop, the car draws power from the battery and exclusively uses the electric motor.  Once the car reaches normal cruising speed, the car switches over to the combustion engine, at which point the gasoline engine can also repower the generator.   During periods of heavy acceleration, both engines may be utilized.

Hybrid IT is about a distributed architecture in which workloads are matched with the most optimum hosting environment that will meet the needs of users.   The mission of Hybrid IT is to deliver the right model for the right need, recognizing the fact that no one size fits all.  Hybrid IT utilizes instant provisioning tools that deliver the desired service in automated fashion within the most suitable architecture.  To discern the ideal environment, IT must consider the requirements for each workload including resource, security, and performance needs.  Whether a workload should be contracted out to the cloud or reside on premise is irrelevant.  Essentially, Hybrid IT is about providing IT as a Service, providing solutions according to scale, performance, speed and cost.  The mission of internal IT is no longer to manage datacenters but to find innovative solutions that solve business problems and pursue opportunities to grow the business.

Traditional IT has been segmented into data silos that were further siloed by functions such as compute, storage and networking.  This in turn led to skill-set silos in which highly skilled, highly compensated technicians who have years invested in their areas of expertise defend their turfs.  Hybrid IT on the other hand is about the convergence of IT, whether that be the hyper converged stacks offered by companies such as HP, or a broad knowledge base of how to manage both public and private clouds.  The fact is Hybrid IT requires new datacenter architectures as well as a new breed of IT professional.

Gartner declared in 2012 that, “Hybrid IT is the new IT and it is here to stay.”  Hybrid IT is indeed the next logical step in the evolution of IT, creating symmetry between internal and external services.  IT must no longer be an auxiliary department within the organization, but an innovative leader that proactively involves itself in pursuing added opportunity and profitability.  Hybrid IT is a new paradigm that accentuates both the prominence and responsibility for IT and IT must make sure it is ready for the challenge.

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