Why Hybrid Cloud Drives Higher Value for CIOs

Don Boulia, VP of Cloud Strategy, IBM [NYSE: IBM]
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Today when organizations discuss infrastructure strategies, invariably, the cloud becomes the topic of conversation.

After a relatively slow ramp in the enterprise, cloud is now core to IT strategies, helping many organizations lower costs, improve scalability and resiliency, and foster greater business agility.

According to a new report by KPMG Institute, 39 percent of IT leaders and CIO’s surveyed for the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey 2016, plan to invest in Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) services over the next three years, up from 25 percent just last year. And the 2015 IDG Enterprise Cloud Computing Study estimates that 25 percent of total IT budgets will be allocated to cloud computing this year.

For many it is no longer a question of if, or even when to adopt the cloud, but rather, what type of cloud infrastructure to consider–private, public, hybrid, or all of the above.

Though technically there is no right or wrong answer, the paths to the cloud organizations choose are critical. Done correctly and strategically, the cloud can quickly evolve from fundamental IT infrastructure to an enabler of innovation, spurring entirely new business models and revenue.

  Increasingly the focus for cloud providers is on what many would consider the real substance and value of cloud computing– attaching cloud infrastructure decisions to actual business goals 

Today, cloud advances are being driven in large part by customer needs. Virtually every industry comes with its own unique set of requirements and circumstances that demand distinct cloud solutions. As such, increasingly the focus for cloud providers is on what many would consider the real substance and value of cloud computing–attaching cloud infrastructure decisions to actual business goals.

It’s important to understand that one size does not fit all and that for enterprises to make a successful migration, they need a path to the cloud that delivers consistency with choice. This is especially true given the fact that one of the biggest considerations of cloud is how to protect and utilize the billions of dollars already invested in infrastructure.

Not an all or nothing proposition, private vs. public clouds, enterprise support for multiple clouds is real and growing. After all, vendors don’t define the marketplace, customers do, and what we are seeing is robust and growing demand for a hybrid platform-delivering that consistency with choice via open, industry clouds, that feature cognitive computing and analytics.

Take for example the “on-demand” business model of anything, anywhere, anytime, which now more than ever is driven by data. While an unprecedented amount of data is being collected, many struggle with how to manage, analyze and make that data actionable. A hybrid strategy accomplishes this by combining and analyzing data streams coming from various locations–seamlessly connecting all of an organization’s clouds, as well as other data resources (weather, social media, etc.) to work as one.

Intelligent/Hybrid Clouds Will Define the New Leaders in the Digital Economy

According to a recent UBS Evidence Lab survey, 60 percent of all IT administrators and CIOs, mostly from enterprise-size businesses, agree that hybrid solutions make the most sense. Data from both Gartner and Synergy, also confirm this trend and we are seeing it with hundreds of clients at IBM, as enterprises are more frequently mixing and matching cloud vendors to meet their unique needs–from social media sentiment analysis to health care diagnostics and even facial recognition security systems.

In fact, here are four companies spanning a range of industries that adopted an IBM hybrid cloud model to improve business performance and better meet the needs of their customers:

1-800 Flowers is moving to the IBM Cloud to better manage the order process across all its brands and improve the omni-channel e-commerce needs of its customers.
Etihad Airways is transforming its IT infrastructure into a globally integrated hybrid-cloud based platform that will include mobile solutions from the IBM/Apple alliance, a new cloud data center in Abu Dhabi and the creation of an IBM/Etihad joint technology and innovation council.
Shop Direct is using a hybrid cloud platform to redesign its financial services offerings to help make the retailers world famous brands even more affordable to customers.
Anthem is deploying hybrid cloud platform to transform its IT infrastructure-seamlessly integrating off-premise and on-premise clouds, into its existing data center environment.

These are just a few examples of enterprises that have adopted cloud as their infrastructure, moved beyond migration for simple efficiency or cost reduction reasons, and are now using cloud to increase their competitive advantage; to unlock investments they already have in existing systems and to align workloads with IT and business strategies.

Driven by the growing needs of the enterprise, a hybrid approach, combined with analytics and cognitive computing are and will continue to be the key ingredients for enabling and driving innovation in the digital world.

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