Achieving visibility and control through the hybrid cloud

By: Judith S. Hurwitz


The other day, I sat down with the chief technology officer of a large insurance company, who shared with me how his company is successfully incorporating hybrid cloud infrastructure. By moving from a rigid IT environment to one that provides agility and flexibility, his organization is adapting to meet changing business situations.

His work as a CTO reflects how speed and agility are of the highest priority for line-of-business leaders. Financial managers, on the other hand, focus on ensuring that whatever happens is executed in a way that fits with the company’s budget guidelines. Regardless of your role, no executive wants to prevent business leaders from innovating.

Striking a balance

One striking comment the CTO made to me was, “I am tired of being Mr. No.” The challenge he faces is that as CTO, he must balance quick innovation with controlling costs. First, he wants to be seen by the business leaders as a partner who can help them achieve ambitious goals. At the same time, he must also balance the concerns of the chief financial officer, who requires assurance that costs are predictable and in line with expectations.

At first glance, this problem may seem like a simple enough challenge to solve. The IT department must give the business the freedom to use the service that will enable the organization to move efficiently and effectively. But the world is not that simple.

Sifting through services

There are myriad services and technologies that businesses need to run effectively, including data centers, private clouds, public cloud platforms and managed services. The financial models for each of these deployment models vary drastically. Choosing which model to use is driven not only by technical concerns but also by financial concerns.

For example, when a business unit wants to quickly build an application to test a new business model or offering, a public cloud may provide the most cost-effective approach. The economic model may begin to shift when a service is designed as a product and profit center. In this situation, the company may want greater control over the infrastructure to keep expenses predictable.

When selecting the right platform to deploy new services, an organization must take into account finances, governance, security and regulatory considerations. Among these decisions, stakeholders in the business share a common goal: to quickly create and deploy services that are simple to access and easy to consume that provide immediate value to clients.

To create their own services quickly and easily in a seamless environment, stakeholders need reliability and availability. They require unity among the services, top-notch execution time and the best price to meet business need.

Building a successful infrastructure

Achieving these goals requires an infrastructure that allows users to know what services are available, how they operate and what they cost to operate. To do so, they must also understand the services. Is the service available from a credible vendor? What level of security and governance is available from the provider? How does that provider charge for computing, storage and networking? Remember that choice and flexibility without security and integration lead to complexity and inefficiency. To achieve success, stakeholders must also understand how these services will work together to achieve efficiency, accessibility, speed and value.

IT specialists and businesses may not be aware that they’re forbidden from using certain cloud services because of regulatory or data sovereignty rules. All stakeholders must have assurance that their preferred service providers are approved and that the deployment environments comply with rules and regulations. To remain compliant, simplify work and avoid costly mistakes, many organizations are automating with hybrid cloud management and cloud brokering services.

Transitioning to hybrid cloud

When organizations establish an effective hybrid environment, it changes the relationship between IT and the business, reduces the complexity and costs for IT and maximizes the self-service needs of the business. If the IT organization can present the business with approved services when they need them, IT evolves into a partner with the business. The persona of Mr. No CTO transforms into Mr. or Ms. Cloud Service Broker for the Enterprise. This new cloud broker will provide:

  • A variety of cloud services offered by multiple providers compliant with enterprise policies based on business needs.
  • The visibility, control and compliance that IT management requires.
  • The speed, choice and simplicity that development and operations professionals need to create the right applications and deploy them on the most appropriate platform.
  • A way for the CFO to manage costs and financial reporting.

This environment based on cloud brokering offers a pragmatic approach to leveraging hybrid cloud for companies competing in an increasingly uncertain world. To empower enterprises, IBM is leveraging its acquisition of Gravitant to create a comprehensive brokerage solution featuring a hybrid cloud management platform called IBM Cloud Brokerage. The brokering capability of this service enables customers to select the most appropriate public or private cloud service based on workloads. The IBM Cloud Brokerage dashboard offers customers the ability to have visibility into what services are running and establish business process rules to determine what service is used based on company requirements.

This article was previously published on Thoughts on Cloud.

Topics: , , ,

About The Author

Judith S. Hurwitz

President and CEO, Hurwitz & Associates

Judith S. Hurwitz is a technology strategist, consultant, thought leader and author. She is currently the president and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates, a consulting, research and analysis firm focused on emerging technology including big data, cognitive computing, hybrid cloud computing and management, software development and operations, and security and governance. Judith holds B.S. and... Read more