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Balancing security, agility, productivity with the right storage for hybrid cloud

Johannesburg, 24 Aug 2021
Read time 4min 10sec
Rishi Nirghin, Executive, IBM Systems, IBM Southern Africa.
Rishi Nirghin, Executive, IBM Systems, IBM Southern Africa.

Eighty-four percent of South African C-Suite executives are prioritising the implementation of hybrid cloud strategies to benefit from flexibility, cost savings, testing and development, as well as disaster recovery. As revealed by this IBM study conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC), C-Suite executives believe that hybrid cloud strategies are vital to their organisation's future – and are in agreement about IT's role in achieving their business goals.

What is the best way to reach these goals? The hybrid cloud. Enterprises expect to run their applications across different cloud environments, taking advantage of different value propositions. The hybrid cloud and multicloud world reflects the new realities of business. Yet while the hybrid world offers so much more than traditional technology infrastructure could, it also complicates matters significantly, says Rishi Nirghin, Executive of IBM Systems at IBM Southern Africa: "IT decision-makers are nervous about the challenges in the hybrid cloud world. They worry about security, achieving value, maintaining productivity and agility, and avoiding too much lock-in. It's a paradox, really: The rest of the business is gung-ho about its prospects through technology, and C-Suite executives and CIOs know that hybrid cloud can meet those prospects. But they also know there is a lot going on under the hood that can hamper their outcome."

The solution CIOs look for, he adds, is to build once, deploy anywhere: "That's the gold standard – if you could create a technology layer that you control and that in turn channels your needs to the cloud world, that's the sweet spot. And I believe storage is the answer."

Choosing the right storage for hybrid cloud can tackle security risks and growing pains. So, what should technology leaders weigh in their decision?

Nirghin advises that one looks for four features in a storage solution: Security, agility, openness and scale.

Better security

"Security should be built into the storage solution and not added afterwards. At IBM, we call this a defence-in-depth approach. The solutions should provide at least three elements. First, it should help identify potential breaches. Second, it must make it easier to segment and limit damage, and third, it must help recover your environment quickly. There should be other security services in the IT environment as well to do these things. But having those features as intrinsically part of your storage solution is incredibly effective."

Continued agility

"Everyone in the company is keen on security – until it makes their jobs harder. This is a constant struggle for CIOs: How do you secure an environment and still make it easy for people to be productive? It's imperative that data protection measures do not limit your company's ability to react fast to changes in the marketplace. If a storage solution is secure by design, you don't have to choose between high agility and minimal risk."

Keep options open

"Companies moved to the cloud in part to get away from lock-in. But in the hybrid cloud world, they find they can easily get stuck with a certain provider because of complex integrations and reliance on specific cloud-vendor services. That devalues the entire point of hybrid and multicloud strategies, preventing companies from running workloads on optimum platforms. But with the right storage, you can keep your options open. Choose storage that can integrate seamlessly with on-premises infrastructure as well as private and public cloud environments. Storage platforms with containerisation features are particularly well-suited for this."

Enable scale

"Something I haven't touched on yet is data and business growth. Both of these can start placing enormous pressure on IT systems and end up limiting growth and agility. In fact, growth that wasn't planned for can impact all of the other concerns I mentioned. But you can't just buy excess storage, sandbagging for the future – this comes at huge cost. Storage must be able to scale on demand without bloating your costs."

The hybrid cloud world provides the space for companies to realise their ambitions and goals through digital. According to a recent IBM and ITWeb Hybrid Cloud survey, everyone is eager to get onboard: 20% of local workloads are already in the cloud, 85% of respondents say they use cloud systems, and 12% plan to within the next year or two.

Yet as many cloud adopters have discovered, getting there is just half the challenge. Staying in the cloud while maintaining value, security, productivity and agility is the other half. The right choice of storage for hybrid cloud can address those challenges.

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