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3 Tips to Create a Starring Role for Public Cloud in Your Hybrid IT



The great cloud migration is underway. But it still has long way to go.

Public cloud adoption by enterprises has been growing and accelerating at an impressive rate over the last three to four years. But the growth isn’t evenly distributed. Some geographies are much further ahead than others. Industries vary in their cloud adoption, too. If you're in a media or tech business, there's a good chance you’ve seen a lot of cloud activity. If you're in financial services, on the other hand, your organization may have taken more of a wait-and-see approach; few financial services firms outside of the United States have done any significant shift of corporate IT from internal data centers into the public cloud. So, a lot depends on where you're sitting, but the bottom line is – everyone’s moving in the same direction. It may be at different paces, and with different priorities, but we’re all moving towards the cloud.

HPE20160526027_800_0_72_RGB.jpgWhat does that mean for your business? Well, first off, it means there’s still tremendous upside waiting to be realized. No matter where your enterprise stands in its cloud journey, chances are you’re nowhere close to exhausting the possibilities of cloud computing. If you’re like most companies, you have some initial successes under your belt, and you’re eager to move cloud closer to center-stage in your infrastructure planning. If you haven’t explored public cloud at all yet, you’re not alone, but it’s definitely time to start thinking about how your enterprise can benefit. I’m sure you’re familiar with the old saying “If you don't know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” But it’s also true that even if you do know where you’re going, you won’t get there – if you don’t set your alarm!

Beyond conventional cloud wisdom

There’s no shortage of cloud guidance out there, but the conventional wisdom isn’t always … well, wise. For example, IT leaders still fret about the security of their data in the cloud. Security continues to crop up regularly in surveys as an inhibitor to adoption. The reality, though, is that hyper-scale public clouds are more secure than most internal corporate data centers. After all, the big providers can pour resources into InfoSec that dwarf the amounts available to individual enterprises.

So here are my three somewhat contrarian tips for making sure that public cloud plays a stellar role in your hybrid IT setup.

1. Embrace an IT governance model that supports innovation. The issue these days isn't whether the cloud itself is secure. It’s more about knowing how to use it securely in a way that maximizes innovation without introducing new risk. That may mean rethinking IT governance, since many enterprises place unnecessary restrictions on the use of cloud services, largely out of fear of the unknown. While these guardrails are intended to avert risk, they do nothing to help the organization expand its revenue channels or seize new market opportunities. As a result, business users end up doing an end-run around the restrictions by setting up their own cloud-based projects without getting the nod from IT.

IT departments can embrace public cloud without sacrificing control. New solutions can go a long way towards automating governance. Look for cloud management platforms; operations and performance management tools; and operations management integration platforms. Cloud service providers can help with regulatory compliance, too; many platforms now offer built-in functionality for regulations such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley.

2. Look beyond the financials. The potential for cost savings is real, and demonstrating it may be crucial in getting the budget to proceed. But it’s often the least important driver for cloud initiatives. You can build tremendous enthusiasm for cloud through business cases that encourage decision-makers to step outside of that economics-focused mindset and understand how the business can become more competitive and deliver more innovation, faster.

I’ve seen this dynamic in action many times. I remember once when I was advising the IT strategy group of a major bank, they were having a hard time articulating the non-financial aspects of the business case and getting alignment and agreement across the business. it took a while to convince users; they really had to see it for themselves. But once we did, it was magical. We showed them how cloud makes it possible to think of a new service, build it and launch it in four months – as opposed to the three or four quarters that it might take in a traditional IT context. Once they started actually using cloud they quickly grasped that the value prop was much more about accelerating innovation than about lowering IT overhead.

3. Consider the “advantages of scale” — down as well as up! We usually think of advantages of scale as applying, of course, to large-scale efforts and organizations, and cloud thinking tends to follow along the same lines. Pundits talk about how cloud enables businesses to expand resources indefinitely, on demand. And that’s certainly a big part of the appeal. But the real trick with cloud is not how large it can get – it's how small it can get. Running elastic applications in the cloud can be a lot less expensive than running static, over-provisioned apps at low rates of utilization on-prem. This is where infrastructure-as-code, a key part of the cloud development model, comes in. Cloud-native solutions can scale down when workload volume is low, so you spend less. When the app doesn’t need a lot of resources, it can say: “queue depth is at zero; I should start shutting down servers.”

Businesses of all sizes can benefit from cloud-based “agility of scale.”  Take, for example, an online retail business with a fixed-cost infrastructure in a colo data center. In the holiday season, the circuits are melting because everybody wants their orders processed. When demand drops off in January, the business could easily get by with infrastructure and storage at a tenth of that level. Instead it has to pay to keep resources sitting mostly idle. Coping with seasonal or fluctuating demand cycles is a strong use case for cloud.

Stocksy_79085 smaller.jpgMoving to the cloud is a big initiative for any organization. HPE Pointnext can help you on every step of your journey. If you’d like to hear more, join us at HPE Discover 2017 Madrid, coming up Nov 28-30. I’ll be giving a session with Kacy Clarke, HPE Lead Delivery in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, titled  Real-world public cloud at scale in the enterprise (Session ID: B4499). Bring your questions! Kacy and I would love to chat with you about any cloud projects you’re working on or planning.

You can register for HPE Discover 2017 Madrid here.

John Treadway
SVP Strategy and Portfolio for Cloud Technology Partners
a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company

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SVP Strategy and Portfolio for Cloud Technology Partners, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company