The journey to a hybrid cloud experience takes different shapes for different companies. Depending on the sector they operate in and the specific setup of their organization, CIOs need to make the right choices at every juncture to achieve the most appropriate configuration that allows their business to thrive.\nThere is no one-size-fits-all solution out there. As many as 87% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy in place, although there are significant differences. For most, the long-term approach involves a blend of on-premises workloads and the cloud. The optimization of workloads between public cloud, private cloud, and traditional on premises creates a hybrid enterprise where cost, speed, and security are balanced to the specific company needs.\nFor organizations that intend to move 100% to the cloud, a short-term hybrid strategy may still be needed in order to plan a phased move of workloads and data from on premises to the cloud, often using secondary storage in the process.\nIn many cases, optimizing over time is the strategy of choice, allowing organizations to continuously evaluate cost, performance, and other factors to decide what the optimal placement for each workload should be.\nThe Power of Hybrid\nThe ability for an organization to carefully analyze its needs and adapt its cloud strategy accordingly is paramount to success, according to Ronen Schwartz, senior vice president and general manager of NetApp's Cloud Volumes business. \u201cHybrid empowers you to do very exciting things, such as innovate on the cloud and execute on premises, where most of the data still is. It also helps you innovate internally and then execute at scale on the cloud,\u201d he says.\n\u201cApplications used to be monolithic,\u201d adds Kim Stevenson, senior vice president and general manager of NetApp Foundational Data Services. \u201cIt was difficult to implement change in them. You would have to take the application offline and fix it. But now containerization allows us to remove parts of an application and improve them without disrupting the whole.\u201d This is a true game changer, Stevenson points out, allowing organizations to innovate without disrupting the whole system.\nThe beauty of containerization is that it allows scaling through code rather than through hardware. \u201cIn the past, whenever you needed something extra \u2014 more data, for example, or more power \u2014 you had to upgrade the system,\u201d says Schwartz. He explains that organizations now benefit from being able to scale seamlessly into the cloud, which allows them to grow without incurring major cost or disruption.\nThe Innovation Advantage\nThe cycle of innovation is changing, says Stevenson. \u201cHyperscalers are becoming the source of innovation as the scale and scope they operate at creates this transformative opportunity. The innovation is then adopted by enterprises across the ecosystem.\u201d\nThanks to what Stevenson refers to as the \u201cconsumerization of IT\u201d, services are developed in collaboration with the hyperscalers and then deployed on premises for enterprises. NetApp becomes a conduit for innovation. \u201cThis is something that companies are looking for and that really benefits them,\u201d she says.\nThe COVID pandemic has acted as an accelerant to these trends, according to Stevenson. \u201cCompanies don\u2019t go back when it comes to tech and usage: they continue to move forward,\u201d she says. While the journey to the cloud has been happening for years, in more recent times we are witnessing the introduction of an \u201cintelligence layer\u201d that allows companies to segment the types of workloads that they have and decide where best it will run.\n\u201cIf it\u2019s an application that every company in the world needs, say for example payroll, then it makes sense for it to be designed by someone else, for customers to use off the shelf. But if an app is core to your company, then you want to design once and use once, because that is your intellectual property,\u201d Stevenson explains. \u201cThe intelligence layer allows you to run that. It\u2019s a cost play. Organizations can run it as frequently and efficiently as possible in a continuous optimization mode.\u201d\nCustomers with bursty workloads have their own challenges to contend with. It makes sense for them to burst out to the cloud for their peak, because while the increment has a cost, it saves time and money in the long run as it is only needed for a short time. \u201cTheir main work will be on premises, and they\u2019ll only go to the cloud for that peak time,\u201d says Stevenson. \u201cThis optimizes for their workload.\u201d\nA Competitive Edge\nFor most companies, hybrid cloud strategies are not just a means to an end. They are also an integral part of their competitive positioning. \u201cIt is important for them to balance their current services with innovation, when disruption is hitting their market\u201d says Schwartz. \u201cBecause CIOs are competing on software, they are leveraging hybrid to support existing services while innovating quickly. It's not a new trend, but it's been accelerated by the pandemic,\u201d he adds.\nAs a data and cloud storage specialist, NetApp is well-positioned to support customers in their modernization processes, according to Schwartz. He describes how a large hedge fund that embarked on aggressive innovation in the first wave is now pressing ahead with moving all its most important systems to the cloud. \u201cThis required trust in reliability and performance: the core system needed to run on the cloud as well as it had been running on premises,\u201d he explains. \u201cNetApp and Microsoft helped them take this complex system and move it to the cloud in record time, without damaging performance, and to a scale they could not possibly have on premises.\u201d\nSome software companies started operating when the world was fully on premises. Others in the first wave of the cloud. \u201cAs we enter wave two, they are looking to not just adopt the cloud but optimize for the newest cloud technologies.\u201d He mentions the experience of Dell subsidiary Boomi, a specialist in platform integration. \u201cThey chose NetApp to help them scale to the cloud and work in a multi-cloud environment,\u201d he says.\nSometimes regulation or optimization call for a multi-cloud solution. Ultimately, it comes down to circumstances and preferences. \u201cYou meet the customers in the cloud they\u2019ve chosen, and the workloads get routed to the cloud of choice,\u201d concludes Schwartz.\nLearn more about how NetApp is the\u00a0hybrid cloud leader\u00a0who can help you navigate the journey ahead.