Another cloud term has recently started to surface, hyper-hybrid cloud. What is it? Is it real? Do we need yet another cloud term in what seems like a zealous cloud obsessed IT industry?
Well, this might actually be the first cloud term that describes the shift in thinking required to truly harness the benefits of enterprise cloud computing. The premise behind the new idea of hyper-hybrid cloud is that an IT organisation will ultimately need several types of cloud services and careful integration.
In the world of hyper-hybrid cloud, both large and small businesses alike will need to completely rethink business processes, supply chain, CRM, ERP, sales, marketing, governance and accounting. Basically everything it takes to run your business. So clearly going beyond a CRM implementation to a fully cloud-enabled business is a massive step that requires a new way of thinking, a more agile and fast paced approach to using technology to solve business and customer problems without introducing too much risk. Notice I mention the customer here. The customer experience will be the ultimate driver and differentiator for a successful cloud implementation, whether that be internal or external customers.
So now we’ve realised we need to have a new approach, what does it look like? Is it worth the risk? What’s the payoff? Will I save money? All very big questions!
Some of these questions I will attempt to answer in this first blog in a series on hyper-hybrid cloud. Let’s set the scene with a possible scenario for a fictitious financial services organisation.
Let’s look at a financial services business with a workforce of 1,000 globally. The headquarters is in the US with four major geographies and with a sales presence in 12 countries. The business has mix of large sites, medium office sites and small regional offices with a large Oracle implementation for business intelligence and financials. This organisation also has a half-finished CRM implementation for sales and marketing, never really finished because of differing regional requirements and integration difficulties with Oracle. There is also a half-finished business intelligence system, again because of differing regional requirements and integration difficulties.
Our business has 600 suppliers, 30,000 customers and 300 partners. What about the IT budget? Let’s make it a nice round US$100m on let’s say US$1b revenue. CIO headache: How to reduce the IT spend by 20% while reducing complexity and improving service levels to both internal and external customers.
Just to make it real, let’s say they just acquired a medium sized niche player to add to their capabilities and they have plans to expand into a further seven countries over the next two years. OK, so we’re almost sounding like a typical global enterprise. So where does hyper-hybrid cloud fit in all this?
To many, this type of customer would be considered a nightmare or basket case… if only you knew where to start! In my opinion, what is needed is an approach that views cloud as a long term strategic plan for the business. Not the typical short term tactical cloud solutions that are often not much more than cloud-washing a virtual environment by adding a few more VMware tools to an existing virtualisation strategy. What is needed for true enterprise cloud is a blend of all available cloud types from private and public cloud to software as a service (SaaS) and traditional on-premise solutions. This approach should be part of an overarching strategy for IT. Today businesses need a set of tools for managing, planning, designing, integration, aggregation and orchestration across the entire traditional IT infrastructure as well as various flavours of cloud and virtualised infrastructure.
Are we there yet? Not quite, but there are a few that I’m aware of that are emerging in this enterprise management and cloud framework integration space, some with proven pedigree, along with a number of up and coming challengers. HP call it cloud service automation, Unisys call it Hybrid Enterprise Strategy, and IBM call it SmartCloud Provisioning. The software vendors such as Microsoft have System Centre Configuration Manager, and VMware have vCentre Orchestrator. So how do they all claim to do the dirty work of integrating cloud?
The reality is that hardware vendors, software vendors and businesses are relying on organisations like Professional Advantage to help businesses navigate the cloud hype. So the easy answer is a suite of applications, some old and some new, and some revamped for the cloud era combined with what has become known as ‘reference cloud architecture’. This of course varies from vendor to vendor based on their own cloud doctrine. However, how do you choose which doctrine and cloud reference architecture to follow?
The hard answer is, well, really hard, and beyond the scope of this article for now. In a nut shell though, organisations like Professional Advantage analyse the business requirements and then choose the right blend of private cloud, public cloud, existing on-site and off-site services along with software as a service. A thorough approach also considers core system application rationalisation and integration, and evaluation of the latest cloud-enabled business applications. Once all of these considerations are made, then a solution is designed that provides the best cost/risk/benefit across all available cloud solutions in the most cost effective and agile way. Sounds easy right? Well in reality it’s a lot more difficult, and this is where CIOs and IT managers need to consider whose cloud doctrine they want to follow.
So ultimately, to solve the problems of this particular customer scenario requires a look at the bigger picture of cloud in a complex enterprise environment, where there are already many tactical deployments of cloud services, but no real integration between traditional IT, SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, virtualisation, public, private and hybrid cloud. So yes, cloud is getting real and it’s no longer hype. Welcome to the world of hyper-hybrid cloud.
You can read more about Professional Advantage and the cloud here.