Digital transformation is changing the shape of the business world. To make it work, businesses are turning to both hybrid and multi-cloud approaches.
After years of tinkering at the edges, businesses are fully embracing the cloud. All too often, though, they see these technologies as an end in themselves rather than what they are – a tool. The result is that technological innovation does not always achieve everything it can. Now, with the rise of digital transformation, businesses see the cloud as a key part of their strategy.
The rise of the cloud
Cloud computing is everywhere. Gartner predicts public cloud revenue will reach $206.2bn in 2019 – a rise of 17.3% from 2018, as businesses seek higher data handling capacities. The number of options available has proliferated, offering a host of benefits to businesses. However, each of these options tends to deliver a certain and specific business benefit. Harnessing multiple cloud solutions enables businesses to select whichever platform makes the most sense in that particular use case. It gives enterprises a huge amount of flexibility, allows them to harness the power of multiple cloud providers and ensures they are not locked into any single provider.
Even so, the cloud cannot provide all of an organization’s needs. Most organizations will have complex legacy structures, technologies, and processes in place which are critical to the operation of their business. It would take an enormous amount of time and expense to migrate all of these legacy functions from traditional environments into a new cloud-based infrastructure. In most cases, the business will not feel as if it can justify all these expenses.
The real magic, then, will happen when it can connect the two – bringing together everything being run in the multi-cloud environment into existing applications – in other words, it’s a hybrid cloud which uses some of the emerging functionalities of the cloud such as microservices and containers into a private cloud.
The result is a hybrid of public clouds, private clouds, and legacy environments which drives greater agility and flexibility into the business and it is this which characterizes the future. MarketsandMarkets expects the hybrid cloud market to grow at an annualized rate of more than 17% between 2018 and 2023.
Focus is also growing as businesses increasingly rate digital transformation as a major priority for their operations. Every business is beginning to understand the need to become tech and software driven. Those that do not are being left behind.
Digital transformation is about much more than just adopting new technologies in certain parts of the business. It’s about embedding digital technology within the very DNA of an organization. But, all that technology has to run somewhere and that is why the hybrid cloud will be so crucial.
Businesses are coming under increasing pressure to deploy innovation and new software quickly and in an effective manner. They need these updates to be brought swiftly and effectively to market in a way which would not have been possible under legacy environments. For example, in the 1990s it would have taken months to deploy a new physical machine, but in the cloud, this process can take place in a matter of minutes. Some of these applications will need to be placed on the public cloud, particularly those which have a wide variation in demand. Businesses will need to be able to take advantage of the increased capacity and pay as you go features of public cloud providers to ensure they always have the right amount of capacity at their disposal.
Other applications will need to sit within private clouds like those which have highly sensitive data and need to remain safely and securely behind a firewall. The hybrid approach enables all these different environments to be managed from the same location. It minimizes complexity, increases flexibility, and optimizes costs.
Making it work in practice
That said, the cloud environment does not come without limitations. Using public clouds can be expensive and adds another layer of complexity by increasing the number of environments you are managing. Depending on your industry, you may also run into a number of regulatory and auditing requirements which could affect the way you leverage hybrid cloud environments. Security will also be an issue. The arrival of GDPR places heightened requirements on all organizations to ensure the data they keep is safe, has the correct permissions and can be accessed at the request of the individual belonging to that data. Using cloud providers often means transferring that data to another organization which means you’re putting a great deal of trust in their own security processes.
Cost and security
The rise of the cloud is also viewed as an attractive opportunity by cyber criminals who see a huge amount of potentially valuable data being shared online. Placing this data onto the cloud inevitably puts it at risk – just how great a risk will depend on the security measures put in place by that cloud provider. Using multiple providers can make it difficult to monitor and control costs. Instead of one bill from a single cloud provider, you will be dealing with several. The flexible charging systems, which many providers use, may also see you being charged varying amounts depending on how much functionality you access. You will need to implement robust policies to track the resources being consumed and to ensure you are meeting all your compliance obligations.
For all these obstacles, however, the hybrid and multi-cloud approach is increasingly becoming vital to a successful digital transformation. It enables businesses to embrace agile development in order to keep pace with the rapidly evolving digital environment. It’s a solution which can equip businesses to cope with the challenges of the present as well as be flexible enough to cope with the evolving needs of the future.
Market Research Team, RapidValue