Think you don’t have a hybrid cloud strategy?

Think you don’t have a hybrid cloud strategy? You're wrong.

I recently spoke to an IT Manager, and during our conversation, I asked what his hybrid cloud strategy was. He said that his company didn’t have a formal hybrid cloud strategy; they were moving more applications out of their data centre and choosing SaaS apps where available, but there wasn’t a hybrid cloud strategy in place.

But he’s wrong.

Whether that IT Manager likes it or not, he already has a hybrid IT strategy in place. The company itself has set it in stone, with or without the help of IT.

No one person is responsible, but many have contributed. Over the years, each additional SaaS service purchased, each new application that was brought in and hosted with a Public Cloud provider, and each new upgrade to the existing onsite data centre has developed a hybrid cloud ecosystem.

Cloud has already spread throughout the business I met with, and every month, as new services are added and old applications are taken offline, a hybrid cloud ecosystem continues to grow.

Perhaps the attraction of hybrid cloud is that it may not be something that can be entirely set in stone in a formal strategy. By its very nature, perhaps it has to be a living, breathing ecosystem, that flexes and changes as new situations arise: perhaps your data centre experiences a failure and more services are moved to the cloud one year; or your ERP provider moves to a pure cloud play strategy so you’re forced into SaaS world for your central business applications.

You can’t always plan for that – with Microsoft Dynamics being Azure-led now, customers may be moving central systems to the cloud earlier than their strategies may have previously anticipated.

But it doesn’t mean a strategy doesn’t exist, it just means that maybe the traditional way of deciding on a long term IT strategy for your business doesn’t fit in a world where new providers can launch applications on the fly or the industry’s largest vendors can change their position on onsite or public cloud hosting overnight.

A hybrid IT strategy is all about being flexible enough to allow for change both internally (i.e. what your business decides to do commercially and operationally) and externally (i.e. what the market dictates and also what technology industry and vendors offer each year).

Previously, vendors might introduce a newer, shinier box – but it was just a newer, shinier version of the previous box. It didn’t mean you had to throw out your IT strategy and start again. Today, an application vendor deciding to only release their updated version as a SaaS product means that your strategy to keep that application in-house for the foreseeable future changes. And perhaps it has a knock-on effect on your other applications; making it more costly to keep other apps in-house if you don’t have the economies of scale of all of your applications being hosted within your own data centre.

And, the stakeholders responsible for your hybrid IT strategy have changed. Shadow IT and the proliferation of cloud services means that the people involved in making a decision about your hybrid IT strategy may be sat in diverse roles across different departments of your business. They may have been purchasing their own cloud services for over 10 years and now have a key voice in decisions about future IT strategy of the organization.

So, do you have a hybrid IT strategy? Or has your company sorted it out without you?

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