The art of managing hybrid cloud services
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The art of managing hybrid cloud services

January 2014

Hybrid cloud services might offer the best of both worlds, but they require careful management to ensure success, says GDS International founder Spencer Green.

Hybrid cloud is one of the hottest topics at our CIO Summits and roundtables. On the face of it, a hybrid cloud solution offers the best of two worlds: the flexibility and cost-economies of the cloud, coupled with the security of your own walls.

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Why is it so important? The benefits of the cloud to business are well documented. Agility, cost-efficiency, scalability, accessibility (particularly with changing work patterns) and faster time-to-market are all clearly good things for a business, or indeed a government agency. This is reflected in how IT leaders are spending their budgets: research by GDS International last year shows that cloud computing and security are among the biggest IT budget priorities for CIOs right now.

Cloud computing and security sit neatly together here. All the CIOs we surveyed — with two notable exceptions — have concerns about the security of the public cloud. (This is particularly true of those operating in regulated industries.) The flexibility and cost advantages of the cloud are great to have, but not at the expense of secure data.

Enter the hybrid model. Back in 2011, Gartner predicted that hybrid cloud services would rise dramatically in importance — a prediction that is borne out in its 2013 report ‘Cloud Computing and Hybrid IT Drive Future IT Models.’ The industry analyst firm says that enterprise cloud strategies are evolving in five key areas: consuming cloud services; building private cloud services; securing, managing and governing hybrid IT and cloud; and enterprise delivery of cloud services. Establishing a hybrid strategy that spans traditional and new cloud models is now seen as an imperative. The delivery of that strategy, managed well, is indeed the best of both worlds; the combination of public and private that lets you own and control critical business applications while accessing the benefits — such as economics of scale — of the public cloud for less sensitive data or processes and customer needs — all underpinned by the evolving skills base of its 170,000 employees.

“In the first year of our hybrid cloud integration I spent more time with lawyers than with IT people.”

Our research at GDS finds that 75% of organizations want to pursue a hybrid delivery model. But there are murmurs of hesitation from CIOs, too. Hybrid cloud models can be a management headache; bringing together multiple resources and suppliers to provide a hybrid cloud that is as seamless as its public or private equivalent isn’t an easy thing to do.

The importance of managing the service and the changing relationship between client and vendor was recently highlighted to us by Fayyaz Alam, VP of IT infrastructure at the Emirates Group, the $21 billion travel and transport business. “When we were just buying servers from a vendor, it was a simpler relationship,” he outlined. “Today it is more of a co-dependence.”

And, in one area in particular — legal advice — that means a whole lot more focus. As Luis Uguina, global head of new technology at Spanish banking giant BBVA told us: “In the first year of our hybrid cloud integration I spent more time with lawyers than with IT people.”

Managing multiple clouds from multiple vendors, standardizing the process across your network and ensuring your owned applications can be integrated to a hybrid service is no mean feat. Getting the vendor relationship right from the start is critical. The ‘co-dependence’ that Alam mentions means that you will be entering more of a partnership — a term much overused by vendors in the past — than a traditional supplier-client relationship. If an IT team is to manage a process it doesn’t wholly own, it must have a relationship with a supplier/partner that is based on trust and collaboration.

For practical advice on how to respond to these emerging new challenges of effectively managing cloud alongside traditional systems, download The White Book of Managing Hybrid IT, Fujitsu’s definitive guide to maximizing the cloud, enabling innovation and redefining governance.

• Spencer Green is chair and founder of GDS International, the business media and services company behind the CIO Summit series of conferences and networking events.

First published January 2014
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