The world we live in today is rapidly changing and organizations are going through digital transformation — the profound change of business and organizational activities, processes and potential as result of rapid innovation and implmentation of technology — at record speed. While the term may be overused, it is not without good reason; digital transformation impacts all organizations, perhaps none more so than those who are not actively engaging in it. The stakes are high for businesses to properly implement transformative technologies and methodologies such as Cloud, DevOps, AI, IOT and Agile.
With a growing push to adopt the latest technologies, it can be tempting to ignore “legacy” on premise infrastructure and traditional monolithic applications. While cloud technologies can, and should, play a central role in an organization’s technology strategy it is important to recognize that not every application, workload or service is ideally suited to be “in the cloud.”
Many organizations take one of two cloud strategies: “all in” – everything in the cloud or “all out” – nothing in the cloud, both approaches miss the point. It is never just about the technology, but rather the business goals that the IT strategy is supporting. Companies should adopt an approach that embraces the strengths of both on prem and cloud technologies – commonly known as Hybrid IT. In doing this, they can ensure they’re deploying the solution that best fits the technological and business needs. In some cases, that might mean that a heavily regulated organization will remain entirely on prem and an all remote company will end up entirely in the cloud and that’s okay. These types of decisions, however, need to be made with the broader organizational goals and structure in mind.
Many IT departments lead with infrastructure and applications first, trying to get their organization to adapt and confirm to the platform they have selected. For IT to be a truly strategic business unit, and drive successful adoption of new tools and strategies, this approach needs to be flipped on its head. The business’s needs, both current operations and future growth, should guide the selection of IT applications and infrastructure that best support these goals. Ultimately, IT departments need to better integrate IT into the daily operations of the business but in order for this to happen IT departments first need to demonstrate that they can help drive business value.
The organizations that are most successful at adopting new technology are the ones that actively engage staff in the process, clearly explain how these new tools help achieve organizational goals and define easy to follow workflows.
With an organizational objective led approach, there are several technology and infrastructure questions that need to be asked:
- Do our current applications actually meet the needs of the business?
- Does the technology being used to run the applications allow us to maximize the value and value the ROI from the application?
- What are the organization’s security and compliance needs? How do these needs impact the technology we implement?
- Do we need to keep the data that we are generating and processing?
- Does this data provide direct value to the overall business?
- Is this application critical to our competitive advantage and something that we need to have full control over? Or is this technology something that while important that our company simply needs to be able to use?
- Can we, as an IT organization, support this new technology or infrastructure?
- For everything we are building – are we doing this in an agile, flexible and future proof manner? Or are we incurring additional technical debt and ultimately impeding the organization’s ever changing goals?
- Are we approaching the project in a way that is cost effective? How does this impact the profitability of the product or serves it underlies?
While not an exhaustive list, these are questions that need to be considered when selecting infrastructure and technology as tools to achieve business goals. While the answers to these questions may lead an organization to an “all in” or “all out” approach to cloud, it will be a decision based on an intentional decision and not for arbitrary reasons.
There is no one correct answer for adopting a cloud strategy – the right answer is the one that fits your organization’s unique needs. Most organizations will find that if they follow a business focused strategy they will converge on a Hybrid IT approach. There are a variety of performance, security and compliance reasons that would lead to an organization building hybrid development environments and pipelines. There are some datasets that do not justify the cost of a cloud model as the information is not directly tied to revenue generating activities and might be most cost effective on traditional tier 3 storage. Some companies may find that they have important applications, that are not part of the customer value chain, that would benefit from a SaaS or other cloud hosted model.
The work of an IT professional is challenging enough – there is no need to artificially limit the tools available to succeed. It simply comes down to this: focus on the goal of business agility and then determine and use the technology, whether on prem or in the cloud, best suited to achieving that goal.
Interested in learning more about putting a Hybrid IT approach to work for your organization? Join Dave as he hosts a webinar, Building an Effective Hybrid IT Strategy, featuring Garth Reid from HPE and Dave Pearson from IDC on Thursday, May 28th at 10:00am PST | 1:00pm EST. Register here.
About the Author:
Dave White, Senior Analyst, MOBIA
Dave White is a Senior Solutions Architect with over 20 years of experience in the IT industry. Throughout his career, he has worked with a variety of organizations and a range of technologies — from traditional infrastructure to software development to public cloud. Dave is passionate about partnering with organizations to align business needs with technology to drive successful digital transformation. Outside of work, Dave enjoys spending time with his wife and teenage son.