Digital transformation is driving hybrid cloud investment trends

As enterprises go through their own digital transformation journeys, hybrid cloud environments are becoming the platform for agility, innovation and automating data services.

Hybrid cloud is one of those terms that seem to have different definitions depending on who you speak to. I simply look at it as an environment that enables you to run your applications and share data simultaneously across multiple clouds. Not to oversimplify it, but organizations need flexibility and elasticity in the cloud when dealing with and responding to the real time changes and demands of the business. In fact, hybrid cloud is one of the emerging digital workplace trends for 2018 and beyond that I wrote about in my January article. We’re seeing the growth of hybrid cloud scenarios as a strategic initiative for a wide range of organizations. We are also witnessing significant investments in and attention being placed on new technology providers offering hybrid cloud management services.

Focus on the business objectives

In speaking with leaders across all lines of business, it is apparent we often get too carried away by the latest trends and buzzwords. As we’re seeing hype around hybrid cloud, containers, microservices, kubernetes, tensorflow and what have you, we have to be mindful of what business problems we’re trying to solve. Every company is going through their own digital transformation, which holds at its heart, an intricate synchronization of people, data and applications that together must offer a set of experiences for customers, employees and partners in the ecosystem. Critical in this mix is the data flow, with data-driven insights and applications. Insights from data is the key business asset that drives decisions, innovation and growth.

Overcoming the challenges of developing a hybrid cloud strategy

While there are a host of benefits for hybrid cloud environments, there are challenges organizations should be aware of. Some of the challenges of implementing hybrid cloud center around understanding costs to scale, compliance, security, data and infrastructure compatibility across clouds, container management and developing a good set of governing best practices for the environment. It also is extremely challenging dealing with the vast number of cloud technologies. How do you bring together technologies such as kubernetes, tensorflow and machine learning from a services experiences perspective? And what do you do with your legacy applications? Also, how do bring effective management and automation in hybrid cloud environments? There are a slew of challenges organizations have to deal with.

I had the opportunity recently to speak with Florian Leibert, the CEO and co-founder of Mesosphere about overall market trends and increasing adoption of hybrid cloud. In fact, Mesosphere just announced on May 7, 2018, a funding round of $125 million co-led by funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. and Koch Disruptive Technologies (KDT) with participation from ZWC Ventures, Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Disruptive Technology Advisers (DTA). I listed all that out to show the heavy interest and collaborative activity the investment community is having in this space.

Florian explained that the Mesosphere DC/OS (Data Center Operating System) platform, gives users an “as-a-Service” experience for container tools like Kubernetes and data engineering and machine learning tools like TensorFlow, Apache Kafka, Cassandra, or Spark on any infrastructure. Enterprises get one platform for over a hundred technologies and can run their software on a public cloud or their own data center. The idea is to limit lock-in to a single public cloud provider and give enterprises more cost controls.

Florian advised the overall plan with this round of investment is to focus more on R&D and that it will help them to arm the enterprise with leading edge technology, like containers, machine learning, and IoT applications, which will aid them in achieving a competitive advantage and transform the customer experience. DC/OS provides the platform to power real-time, data-driven applications, like those for connected cars, personalized experiences, and machine learning. Discussing competitors like Pivotal and others, I believe the company has to continue building out its ecosystem of partners. There is also a great opportunity related to professional services. In fact, all providers offering any form of hybrid cloud management and automation services have to offer expertise in strategy development as enterprises struggle with hybrid cloud initiatives.

As I look at the competitive market landscape, enterprises really have to consider where they are on their digital transformation journeys, and what their key business objectives and priorities are.  Enterprises are trying to automate hybrid cloud operations and take advantage of their data in new and innovative ways. It requires technology providers that are truly partners and that can help in developing and honing their strategy. Enterprises have to require specific benchmark examples in the way of references cases in similar industries to their own as they evaluate technology providers and partners.

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