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The transformative potential of hybrid IT

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If hybrid IT simply meant running one workload on premise and another workload in the cloud, it wouldn’t be that hard. But that’s not really what it means, and it’s not how enterprises actually use it.

The real potential of hybrid IT – to achieve faster execution, more business agility, and sustainable cost reduction – comes when you run a single workload across multiple deployment models simultaneously.

For example, a common set-up for running collaboration workloads is to put email on physical servers on your own premises, then have the voice and video portion in a hosted private cloud, and use audio conferencing from a public cloud.

Our new research into how organisations are using hybrid IT found that hybrid deployment models are in common use for collaboration workloads.

The fact that these numbers add up to over 100% shows that workloads are spread across multiple venues.

But this sort of scenario is also where the complexity kicks in. Because to do this effectively for multiple production workloads, you usually need to transform – not just your infrastructure and applications – but your operations too.

You don’t necessarily have to transform all these at once. Many of our clients prioritise operational efficiencies through automation and service redesign as a first step. Others will look to drive savings in network costs. Both approaches will free up the investment to fund the transformation journey.

Embracing hybrid IT can accelerate business transformation

One of our clients, financial services firm, Alexander Forbes, needed to expand their customer focus from serving institutions to serving individuals. They wanted to give all their customers access to their products over whatever channel they chose to use. They outsourced all their IT to us – everything from desktop to data centre, including smart buildings and help desk – which we provide as an integrated managed service across hybrid IT. As a result, they’re now better positioned to respond to the potential of digital disruption, and keep up with ever-changing compliance requirements, in the financial services industry. Watch the case study to find out more.

Hybrid IT places new demands on the IT department

sTo help clients like Alexander Forbes transform, we start with the business outcomes they are looking to achieve, translate them into financial KPIs, construct a business case, and plot a transformation roadmap. Then we’ll move on to redefining business processes, re-architecting applications, thinking through the best infrastructure options, and optimising operations – all with getting the most out of hybrid IT in mind.

This approach can actually change the role of IT within the organisation. It depends on how far the client wants to go, of course. But in organisations that embrace this, the IT department becomes more of a strategic enabler for the business, with its people concentrating more on policy, governance, and managing partners, than on routine IT operations.

This in turn calls for a different skill set. Defining your enterprise data governance policy is very different from configuring a router. You’re essentially asking your people to move up the ITIL stack from operations to strategy. Some may make the transition easily, some may need retraining, others may not want to come with you on the journey.

The breadth of capabilities it requires will be a challenge to many enterprises

Say you’ve made a strategic decision to use Skype for Business as your collaboration platform. What will you need to implement it? You may choose to deploy the solution across a combination of on-premise equipment, private hosted infrastructure, and public cloud. So you’ll need skills in all of those.

But it doesn’t stop there. You’ll need end-user devices, federated identity management, and adoption management. Your networking will need reviewing across WAN, data centre, campus, and clouds. You’ll need a whole new approach to cybersecurity, and so on…

Even within operations, the skills hybrid IT requires are different from traditional, physical IT. It’s less about rack skills and more about software programming. You need more capability in systems integration, abstraction, automation, and multi-platform orchestration.

So what can you do about it?

If your people don’t have these skills, you could train them, but it might be easier and cheaper in the long run to partner with a service aggregator, like Dimension Data, to do it all – or just a part of it – for you.

As 451 Research concluded in their new report on hybrid IT, ‘Service providers that can offer a comprehensive portfolio of managed services across the broadest set of infrastructure options are best positioned to meet the full set of enterprise requirements.’

Hybrid IT offers great potential for organisations pursuing digital transformation but it also brings with it many challenges. Take a look at the recent research on how companies are using hybrid IT.

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