Future-proof your organisation with hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud is becoming the key business strategy for the post-COVID world – here’s why.

Johannesburg, 22 Feb 2021
Read time 4min 30sec
Craig Holmes, Technology Leader, IBM Southern Africa.
Craig Holmes, Technology Leader, IBM Southern Africa.

COVID-19 lockdowns put a rocket under slow, planned digital transformation journeys. What we’ve all learned is that the more digitalised an organisation is, the better it can anticipate and react to rapidly changing circumstances. “Whatever the post-COVID world looks like, one thing is certain – organisations must be prepared to be able to adapt to new business models rapidly in a hyper-competitive world,” says Craig Holmes, Technology Leader at IBM Southern Africa.

In these circumstances, CIOs face several issues. How do I ensure that my technology investments don’t act as a straitjacket down the line? How do I continue to sweat my current technology investments? And how can I ensure that my organisation is ready to adopt new technologies as and when they become available?

“The cloud – and particularly the hybrid cloud – has become the dominant technology strategy because it helps to answer these questions,” says Holmes. “The hybrid cloud enables organisations to adopt innovative technologies and adapt to new business models without requiring existing IT investments to be scrapped. Hybrid cloud allows them to pull together a highly heterogenous environment that spans the traditional in-house data centre and any number of public and private clouds, from a range of vendors. Hybrid cloud enables seamless management of this complex environment, including data governance in line with regulatory requirements, as well as the necessary security.”

In short, hybrid cloud enables the seamless integration of traditional and cutting-edge technology so that workloads can be routed to wherever they are best served – without compromising service levels or security.

In an IBM study conducted by IDC in Middle East, Turkey and Africa with 500+ respondents, 85% said they are pursuing or looking to pursue a hybrid cloud strategy in their organisation and more than 55% suggested the key reason to adopt a hybrid cloud was flexibility and significant cost savings.

“However, many CIOs are holding back with implementation because they realise that choosing the right partner is critical for such a complex journey to be successful. IBM research shows that only 20% of workloads have actually been moved, I believe in great part due to the difficulty of the journey and reluctance to be locked into any one cloud vendor. For that reason, a cloud partner with an agnostic approach and an open source strategy makes the most sense.”

As is so often the case, banking is leading the way. In this sector, instantaneously processing millions of transactions and delivering a perfect customer experience throughout the journey is pivotal. However, securing the customer's data at every step is essential for banks to maintain trust and integrity. A hybrid approach helps banks define modern architectures to cater to security, governance, speed, ease of management on-demand with agility in a business-strategy-first model – despite the fact that workloads are increasingly running across extensive and fragmented IT estates and across multiple jurisdictions in order to take advantage of cost or speed advantages, and to comply with regulatory requirements (for example, for sensitive data to be held within geographic boundaries).

Holmes explains: “This approach is increasingly true of a growing number of sectors beyond financial services, and is gaining traction not only because it simplifies movement between multiple clouds and on-premises systems, and allows for maximum automation.

“Automation is expected to grow in importance as a way to streamline business processes, reduce costs and enhance the productivity of expensive human resources. Intelligently designed, automation can also greatly enhance the customer experience.”

Creating the cognitive enterprise

Another key benefit of the hybrid cloud model is that CIOs can move even their core business applications across clouds, and shift workloads as necessary. This approach also enables them to move workloads off on-premises systems as they reach end of life, and to reduce downtime from weeks to hours. But perhaps the greatest long-term benefit of the hybrid cloud is that it enables organisations to access fourth industrial revolution services based on artificial intelligence, machine learning and the Internet of things on a pay-as-you-go basis.

For example, AI can be infused into a business process to make it more flexible, scalable and effective. At Telecom Egypt, IBM implemented a solution that used AI to help automate the management of its networks so that problems could be identified, isolated and rectified before they impacted business operations. The solution is powered by real-time analytics, harnessing powerful computing resources in the cloud. Going forward, the solution will ensure that Telecom Egypt will be able to support future operations and enable new digital services with ease.

“In essence, the hybrid cloud enables the cognitive enterprise – one that can change business models, reinvent processes and reimagine how works gets done as the world changes. It is founded on intelligent workflows that benefit from the application of technology at scale to differentiate the organisation.

“That’s the future of business – and hybrid cloud is what will allow it to develop.” 

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