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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Four Considerations for CIOs Moving Their Enterprise to a Hybrid Cloud Environment

Moving to the cloud need not be an all-or-nothing choice, as Bill Talbot, VP for solutions marketing at BMC, explains.

Why move to the cloud, and if you do, how can you do so smoothly? BMC's Bill Talbot, VP for solutions marketing, shares some suggestions for making a successful transition.

For Further Reading:

Hybrid Cloud Analytics: Plan for These Challenges

Data Management Best Practices for Cloud and Hybrid Architectures

Four Reasons Data Lakes Are Moving to the Cloud

Upside: From your perspective, what's driving enterprises to the cloud?

Bill Talbot: It's simple: efficiency. Enterprise customers are increasingly moving to the cloud because they want to be more agile, accelerate innovation faster, and -- most important -- make operations run smoother in general. The cloud has reached the point where it's no longer an emerging category. Instead, it's now part of the mainstream. A recent report by 451 Research found a majority (90 percent) of organizations surveyed are using a cloud service of some sort. Pointing even further to growing adoption and cloud maturity, 69 percent of enterprises surveyed planned to work in multicloud and hybrid IT environments this year.

If the cloud is so beneficial, why should an enterprise not move everything to the cloud? Why should a CIO consider a hybrid environment instead?

When it comes to adopting the cloud, organizations shouldn't do a complete overhaul and move everything to the cloud. Instead, they should carefully consider their goals and choose specific areas where transitioning to the cloud makes business or technical sense. A hybrid cloud environment enables organizations to balance control and flexibility, meaning enterprises have the option to choose the IT resources they purchase based on what they think is best for the business.

For example, CIOs should consider the demand or transaction load an application requires. If demand is high and causes big, periodic spikes that require additional resources for short periods, developing a cloud app with auto-scaling services could be the best strategy. On the other hand, if the load is relatively consistent, it may be more cost effective to run it on on-premises resources and reserve operational budget for other needs.

What are the most important considerations for any CIO thinking about moving their company to a hybrid cloud environment?

Top considerations are speed to innovation, cost, security, and scale. They must influence the decision to invest in a cloud-based service. CIOs evaluating a potential transition to the cloud must look at it two ways: first, as a business decision and, second, as a technology decision.

Before committing to the technology, CIOs need to clearly outline their business objectives, implementation plan, timeline, and costs to ensure it's the best option. Beyond this, CIOs need to consider regulatory and compliance guidelines and ensure the cloud services adhere to these requirements. Security is a growing challenge for CIOs as they transfer applications and infrastructure to the public cloud. It's important to understand that as a cloud buyer, you're responsible for securing the cloud services you purchase.

How does the cloud affect speed to innovation?

Cloud service providers offer resources and technology services that can take significant time to build or acquire in the data center, such as machine learning algorithms. Cloud services are also more easily accessible, supporting and accelerating agile development processes and digital services to keep businesses innovating at a faster rate. In this time of mass digital transformation, organizations find themselves challenged with growing requests that IT operations simply cannot keep up with in a sustainable, long-term way. With seemingly on-demand cloud services now available, organizations are empowered to accelerate innovation and offer new products and services to customers faster.

Costs are often touted as a big advantage for moving to the cloud -- everything from lower upfront capital expenditures to staff savings. What else should a CIO think about when it comes to costs?

CIOs now have a choice between spending operational or capital budget and need to consider which is best for their business. Managing operational budgets for cloud services requires new tools and discipline. CIOs should embrace predictive analytics and machine learning tools to forecast and manage their cloud spend and budget. By embracing these technologies, cloud ops teams can anticipate what typical cloud usage and spend will be, and even get alerted if they're tracking beyond their allocated resources.

CIOs can also leverage these tools to rank cloud projects based on cost, from highest to lowest, which helps them easily identify resources that should be consolidated, or possibly eliminated, to keep costs on target.

How is scale relevant here? Isn't scale only an important consideration for the largest enterprises?

Scale is important to any enterprise and on multiple levels. At the macro level, there is the scale or large number and variety of infrastructure resources needed to support the many business services of a large enterprise. On a more micro level, scale also applies to the volume of data collected and processed or analyzed, as well as to growing or erratic changes in demand for a specific application or business service.

Cloud services can address all of these scenarios. Scalability is also pushing organizations to acquire the right cloud management tools to predict changes that require scale and to understand the costs associated.

About the Author

James E. Powell is the editorial director of TDWI, including research reports, the Business Intelligence Journal, and Upside newsletter. You can contact him via email here.

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