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4 Ways Private/Hybrid Clouds Improve Business Outcomes

Industry experts share the top business benefits they’ve seen from a private or hybrid cloud deployment.

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Credit: istock

Private and hybrid cloud models play a critical role in the next phase of enterprise cloud computing. In IDG Enterprise’s “2016 Cloud Computing” survey, 62% of the respondents’ organizations were using a private cloud, accounting for nearly one-quarter (23%) of their total IT environment, and 26% had deployed a hybrid model that combines private and public cloud services. These types of deployments, Hitachi Data Systems’ Gary Breder writes, will help organizations leverage the cloud’s scalability, agility, and flexibility to drive new results across the entire business.

 We asked industry experts about the best business outcome they’d witnessed as a direct result of a private or hybrid cloud deployment. Their answers cut across four key categories: increased flexibility, risk reduction, improved customer experience, and collaboration/productivity gains.

 1. Increased flexibility

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the cloud. Every organization’s needs are unique. A private/hybrid model provides maximum flexibility in enabling organizations to move specific applications, infrastructure, or workloads to the cloud at a pace that makes sense for the business.

 “As businesses begin to formally embrace multicloud strategies, they’re asking the question ‘What’s the right place to run this workload, based on its specific business needs?’” says Diana Nolting, product analyst at Bluelock. “Unlike a traditional one-size-fits-all infrastructure, a ‘right-fit’ approach allows much more flexibility.

 “That means select workloads can take advantage of new technologies, like containerization and microservice architectures, faster to deliver a better user experience—without impacting traditional, incumbent applications that are hosted in their own right-fit (typically traditional, incumbent) infrastructure,” Nolting adds.

Moving to a managed cloud services model also helps organizations by “freeing up internal IT staff for other pressing responsibilities,” in addition to offering “efficiencies realized by making use of the as-a-service marketplace,” says Steve Prentice, a keynote speaker, writer, and author.

On a strategic level, the flexibility of private/hybrid cloud deployments enables “[organizations to] become more agile, avoid vendor lock-in, and get to leverage the power of the cloud so they can focus on their core business competencies,” says Jan Plutzer, COO of Apcera.

 2. Reduced risk

The rise of BYOD, combined with a constantly evolving cybersecurity threat, increases the urgency of protecting corporate and customer data. Private/hybrid cloud deployments help reduce risk, by providing enhanced levels of visibility and control of data, regardless of its location.

“Hybrid cloud can give an organization more data deployment options,” says Jessica Marie, director of product marketing for Electric Cloud. “For example, they can deploy an on-premises private cloud to host sensitive or critical workloads but use third-party public cloud providers to host less critical resources such as test and development workloads.” In addition to data control, private/hybrid clouds can enhance user-level protections. “One customer I worked with was able to quickly roll out auditing, MFA [multifactor authentication], and privilege management to beat a regulatory compliance deadline by integrating their on-site Active Directory with their hybrid cloud environment,” says Kayne McGladrey, director of information security services at Integral Partners. “This solution saved them time and money, as they had believed they would need to deploy and train their staff to manage a new, separate identity provider and federate user identities across their hybrid cloud.”

A hybrid cloud can reduce risk in other areas as well, including resource utilization and project planning. “If companies can achieve a true hybrid cloud, applications become portable. This allows the customer to spread risk by choosing multiple cloud providers but still have apps work the same in all those environments,” says Plutzer. “In the process, you also get the ability to modernize legacy apps without having to embark on costly refactoring projects that have low success rates.”

When cloud solutions first emerged, concerns about the data security of public cloud services were valid. Today more organizations realize that third-party providers can often deliver security and data protection solutions that are more robust than what enterprises can do on their own.

“The best outcomes I have seen in companies adopting cloud is less operational overhead, increased productivity, fewer security concerns (as a cloud tends to be more secure than on-premises deployment), and [putting people] closer to information that plays a role in decision-making for management,” says Ibrahim Mohammed, a cloud computing consultant.

Private/hybrid clouds can also reduce risk by offering cost-effective options for modernizing backup and recovery functions. “Two of the best outcomes are when you can reduce your data center footprint or create new failover options to protect against local disasters,” says James Townsend, president of InfoStrat.

3. Better customer experience

The digital economy demands new applications and services that improve the customer experience. Cloud solutions introduce new methods for getting applications to market faster and for improving the way companies engage with their customers and prospects.

“Fortune 500 companies are reshaping how they interact with their customer through mobile and interactive web experiences in completely new ways,” says Brian Gracely, director of product strategy at Red Hat. “We’re beginning to see many companies really understand the power of containers and container platforms to leverage multiple cloud resources. They can leverage the scale or geographic reach of public cloud services and maintain control of critical data in private cloud resources, all under their operational control.”

Toby Buechsenschuetz, VP of Maastricht Consultancy Day with SCOPE | 3MA, saw positive results from an eCommerce project that utilized the cloud. “The ability to offer personalized promotions and customize the product range of the web shop more than doubled conversion [rates] and tripled mobile revenue,” says Buechsenschuetz.

4. Improved collaboration and productivity

Private/hybrid clouds provide a platform for bringing together diverse teams—both inside and outside an organization—without compromising security.

“We have seen positive outcomes in hybrid deployment by allowing many global collaborators to work on projects, bringing in timing-specific skills without exposing their intellectual property,” says a representative of BrainBlender, a group of technology startups. “We have seen many businesses utilize [hybrid clouds] to give them better flexibility in adapting to changes in global trends.”

Will Kelly, a technical writer and content creator, recalled a case study about a tech company that used a private cloud to expedite industrial machine designs for more than 1,000 engineers. “The example sticks with me because I saw it as such a common sense way that a private cloud can improve developer productivity,” Kelly says.

Collaboration benefits extend beyond IT to the rest of the business. “The best business outcome we’ve seen is when business units and application owners are empowered to choose the best-of-breed service or solution to solve their specific business problem,” says Nolting. “The [application] owner achieves cost efficiency and stability, while the business’s IT team can focus on being a strategic partner to the organization, rather than operating as a group that simply works to keep the lights on.”

The most successful cloud deployments “lead to absolute synergy between the business owners and technology service managers,” says Kevin Jackson, a technical fellow at Engility Corp. “They become mutually supportive partners who drive unique business value in industry-transforming ways.”

One of the common themes that emerged from these responses is that private and hybrid cloud computing models help you pick up the pace of your digital transformation. A more agile, scalable, and secure environment balancing governance and flexibility will help you drive positive outcomes for your IT organization and the business at large.

 To learn more about how you can improve your business outcomes with a private/hybrid cloud, contact the experts at Hitachi Data Systems.

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