A hybrid or multi-cloud approach allows organizations to innovate, lower costs, and surpass the competition through exceptional customer experiences.
In May 2011 a major ride-sharing company launched in New York City. By the end of 2017 the company was completing more daily trips than the Big Apple’s famed yellow cabs.i In just 6 ½ years, the now-ubiquitous organization not only disrupted but overtook an entire industry. In its 2019 IPO filing, the ride-sharing giant answered a question many CIOs have asked: why choose hybrid cloud?
It was through a “combination of third-party cloud computing services and co-located data centers” that the company provided a customer experience yellow taxis just couldn’t deliver.ii The filing excerpt reveals that the hybrid cloud strategy in question is also a multi-cloud strategy.
Hybrid clouds offer various business-driving benefits
Not every organization that uses a similar cloud architecture will turn an industry on its head. Today’s CIOs, in their capacity as cross-functional leaders, can create new business value by turning to a combination of public and private clouds, as well as a variety of cloud providers.
The CIO Roadmap to Hybrid and Multi-Cloud guide shows CIOs how a hybrid and multi-cloud strategy can accelerate business-value creation. CIOs who follow the guide will learn how the right cloud strategy can help their organizations:
- Architect new business models
- Leverage technology to break into new markets
- Improve the customer experience
- Drive down costs and create new sources of revenue
Implement a cloud operating model before adopting hybrid or multi-cloud
Transitioning to a hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructure is as much about adopting a new, internal operating model as it is about leveraging new technology. In a traditional operating model, for example, a remote employee would submit a ticket for a new virtual desktop then wait for IT to respond and provision that capability. In a cloud operating model, that process becomes a self-service endeavor. The employee can spin up their own virtual desktop without waiting for IT.
Organizations can apply this model even to on-premises servers. The result is that no matter where data is located, the right people can access and leverage it to their benefit. Implementing automated self-service options also forces IT to become un-siloed. For a cloud operating model to work, developers and IT operations teams must know where each application lives and how to automate requesting its data.
The goal of using a cloud operating model is to mimic a cloud service provider’s agility and flexibility. This agile and flexible way of provisioning resources internally requires preparation, as detailed in the CIO Roadmap to Hybrid and Multi-cloud.
Eight steps to hybrid and multi-cloud success
The thought of an eight-step process may elicit consternated looks. But this guide distills the journey into convenient, digestible processes.
- Prepare and educate your organization. Education and preparation begin when organizations adopt a cloud operating model. For a successful adoption of that model, IT teams must prepare for a self-service future. Similarly, switching to a hybrid or multi-cloud environment is an enterprise-wide affair and will happen only with enterprise-wide buy-in. During this crucial step of the journey, CIOs must prepare and educate other executives and the board. Their goal: demonstrate how IT priorities align with and generate positive business outcomes, and demonstrate it in a way that convinces them to take action
- Assess readiness. A CIO makes the case that a hybrid and multi-cloud architecture is the best way to support customer experience innovations. Take it from SRE Team Leader Nobuhiko Watanabe of ZOZOTOWN, a Japanese e-tail giant:
“Expanding our data center to the cloud was a huge challenge for us.” However, by supplementing its on-premises environment with the public cloud the e-tailer thrived. “We not only successfully survived our winter sale, which has the highest volume of traffic each year, but our company also accumulated knowledge that we’ll be able to use in the future.”
With a business case made, CIOs must then determine how ready the organization is for a hybrid or multi-cloud move. Some apps can be lifted and shifted to the cloud with few issues. Others require a complete architecture overhaul. Selecting the appropriate cloud for the challenge at hand goes a long way toward ensuring success for the entire migration. Step two is about the details. Assess workloads, their application dependencies, and governance models across every existing environment. Completed assessments are guideposts for the rest of the journey.
- Simplify for maturity. The third step of the hybrid cloud journey showcases the importance of adopting a cloud operating model. At this point, CIOs have determined a business case and assessed their companies’ ability to complete cloud migrations. It’s now time to put careful planning into practice and ensure the organization’s architecture is mature enough to handle the actual migration.
Investments in people, processes, and technology are the cornerstone of this step. Through these investments, CIOs must remove the complexities traditionally associated with using data centers or other pieces of infrastructure. The end goal is that leveraging the organization’s data is as easy as downloading and pushing a button on a smartphone app. When complexity falls away, the organization can consider itself mature.
- Untangle the apps. The boardroom and c-suite understand that a hybrid cloud represents an opportunity for innovative customer service offerings. The organization is ready to move some of its workloads to the cloud, and IT has made interacting with internal data as easy as possible. Hybrid cloud is inevitable now, but there is still the question of which applications should make the migration first.
For example, if the marketing team uses an application hosted on-premises to store and edit videos for website collateral. Videos take up an inordinate amount of space and moving the video editing application to the cloud would only introduce additional latency to the process. As such, this app isn’t a good candidate for migration. However, a mobile shopping app that must send data to customers as quickly as possible is an ideal use case for migration to cloud or edge environments.
CIOs should evaluate each application in their portfolio. This evaluation will help determine the best course of modernization action for each app.
- Don’t forget management. The hybrid cloud journey doesn’t stop once apps are comfortable in their new environment. Developers must continue to update those apps and IT ops teams must monitor the delivery of those apps in production. Security, governance, visibility, automation and cost are all key considerations of the distribution pipeline, and every organization needs a strategy to manage these processes at scale.
- Remain adaptable. Cloud strategies aren’t static. They evolve and adapt to changing technological environments and dynamic business requirements. CIOs who wish to preside over robust and sustainable migrations must constantly apply pressure to their systems. The results from pressure tests can inform strategy adjustments and provide a blueprint for future changes.
- Nurture nature. None of these steps is possible without the expertise of the team behind the scenes. Hybrid and multi-clouds, containers, microservices, and other modern technologies and architectures enable CIOs to deliver positive business outcomes. Each of these tools also takes a specialized skill set to operate effectively. Today, technology leaders must lead through empathy as much as through technical know-how to identify and nurture their teams and their abilities.
- Consider the future. In the blink of an eye the information technology industry became a remote enterprise. This sudden change accelerated some trends that were already in motion and created entirely new considerations. One of the great hopes of what is effectively a software-defined operating model is that future disruptions will be handled with aplomb. For cloud migrations—whether hybrid or multi-cloud in nature—to truly be future-proof strategies, CIOs and other leaders must layer a common system of control and operation across each step in this guide.
Many companies have already followed this guide and completed their own migrations. From law firms to transportation companies, everyone who oversaw the journey had one thing in common: Moving to a hybrid or multi-cloud strategy allowed them to stop worrying about their technology working and focus on building their business.
For more about how a hybrid or multi-cloud approach can give your infrastructure a boost, take a look at customer hybrid cloud testimonials or download the CIO Roadmap to Hybrid and Multi-Cloud guide.