Is Your IT Estate More Jekyll or Hyde?

Much like Jekyll’s elixir, cloud computing is being brought into IT infrastructures with the hope of benefitting   businesses, improving productivity and acting as a driving factor in opening new revenue streams. The brew, however, has proved too heady a mixture for many businesses according to our new research. Although considered a gateway to innovation, it is ironic to see that harnessing new technologies like cloud computing  are a leading cause in the increasing levels of complexity which are now preventing many organisations from innovating. It is a twist worthy of Stevenson’s story.

Good Intentions

It all starts innocently enough. As is the case with many well-established organisations, IT departments are already committed to running much of their mission critical processes across a pre-existing IT estate. A ‘rip and replace’ route into the cloud is not a viable solution but the lure of the cloud elixir is too strong to resist.

Instead, cloud adoption has come in smaller sips, with IT departments adding cloud services as an extension or as a replacement for end-of-life solutions. Organisations are now building, against a long-term strategy, increasingly sophisticated estates using a variety of traditional on-premise solutions alongside external services – including public cloud, co-location, or managed hosting services. This is Hybrid IT.

The picture isn’t all bad: our research suggests that a number of organisations who have adopted a Hybrid IT approach have done so as a deliberate strategy and experienced a number of rewards – with over half of businesses pointing to an increase in business agility. In addition, 21 per cent of businesses have enjoyed greater levels of availability as a consequence of their Hybrid IT deployment, and 31 per cent are finding increased levels of security. Indeed 77 per cent of organisations stated that adopting a Hybrid IT approach is a necessary part of staying competitive within their industry.

At the Mercy of Mr Hyde

Yet others have seen something much darker emerge, an evil side to Hybrid IT that’s becoming progressively more difficult to control. Under the guise of IT complexity, Mr Hyde has well and truly reared his ugly face, increasing IT operating costs for nearly a third of businesses – adding an average of £251,868 to IT spend every year.

Moreover, half of organisations agreed they do not have the skill sets needed to manage a complex Hybrid IT environment. Given the importance of Hybrid IT, this is disturbing – organisations admitted they were unable to deal with security issues, the integration of private cloud environments, or even managing different IT systems across the separate departments of their organisation.

The end result is a system that IT departments can’t control, much as Jekyll was left struggling to contain Hyde. Most importantly, more than half of IT decision makers claimed that this complexity is hindering innovation in their organisation.

Is your organisation in the grip of the savage Mr Hyde? Here are four key areas to assess:

Keep Watch for Dark Omens…

  1. You have no road-map:

Building a Hybrid IT environment with ad hoc purchases and trying to keep numerous disparate applications integrated in a single system is a recipe for disaster. Hybrid IT might be, for many businesses, a stepping stone towards a cloud-first policy but a failure to invest in the right applications now with a view to their true business value will lead to significant issues in the future.

  1. You view the cloud as a silver bullet:

The cloud can be great for some projects, but not all applications are suited to this technology and running too many incompatible applications can cause major problems. As truly interconnected hybrid clouds are developed this may ease this issue but the nature of many organisations’ IT will be to remain hybrid, which means cloud will only ever combat part of the monster.

  1. You’ve left yourself with no escape:

Rushing to consume the cloud can give you a hangover – and without an exit strategy, organisations can end up locked in and at the mercy of whichever cloud providers they have chosen. What happens if your provider wants to raise the costs? Or it suffers frequent outages? CIOs must make sure their organisation is protected and that doesn’t just mean adding another cloud supplier to the heap.

  1. You are starting to lose control:

With multiple platforms it is easy to lose grip, so this is where the CIO needs to find a balance between having strong and robust governance in place, without making it so strict that you reduce the opportunity to drive innovation.

Exorcizing Your Demons

Stevenson’s story may have ended in tragedy but the same does not have to be true for organisations in the grip of a Hybrid IT nightmare.

One insight is critical in conquering Hybrid IT: a successful IT estate doesn’t come overnight, and it’s important to plan your attack before you embark. Casting a light into the darkest corners of your data centres can give you clear understanding of each application and services’ importance to your business. Not all technologies or processes are equal, so arming yourself with the knowledge of these requirements will help encourage a successful Hybrid IT strategy, increasing availability, reducing security threats and improving overall resilience.

While some organisations are able to vanquish their demons without extra support, for others, bringing in the right expertise is fundamental. Although having those specialists in-house might be the preferred option, the wide range of platforms and technologies which comprise a Hybrid IT estate can make this an expensive and near-impossible option. In this instance, a Managed Services partner – whether used just to advise or to offer full infrastructure support – can be an essential.

Moving towards the cloud may seem like an irresistible potion to swallow – and one with countless positive outcomes!  But it is important to remember that, conducive to the life of your business, its success depends on establishing the proper ingredients you need before you take that first sip…

For more information about the horrors of Hybrid IT, or to download the whitepaper, click here.

Keith Tilley, EVP, Global Sales & Customer Services Management at Sungard Availability Services