This guest post was written by Janine Benoit, Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing at Sungard Availability Services.
The term “Hybrid IT” is often misused. It doesn’t simply refer to a heterogeneous environment made up of legacy and virtualized implementations: it’s a strategy for managing IT on an open-ended basis – spanning technology issues, business expectations, security and control concerns, and diverse cost structures.
The triggers for hybridization
Hybridization is being driven by multiple factors, the most conspicuous of which is pervasive and rapid cloud adoption. Cloud promises flexibility and immediate gratification by dispensing with the need for IT departments to procure, pay for, provision and manage physical infrastructure. The shift from capital to operational expenditure makes outgoings more predictable and frees up cash for core business investments.
At the same time, the expectation of an “always on” economy among customers, partners and employees means businesses need to provide access to data and services how, when and where users demand. And let’s not forget the business realities that IT faces daily, as organizations are under pressure to get products to market faster, increase agility and reduce costs through greater efficiency. Lastly, hybrid environments can also arise as a consequence of various business and IT-related events – anything from a merger or acquisition to an application upgrade or data center consolidation.
IT leaders are having to rethink the way they manage these hybrid environments. As a result, enterprises are increasingly looking for opportunities to delegate management of more traditional and operational activities to focus on more strategic goals.
To prevent the IT environment from becoming fractured and unmanageable, hybridization requires a carefully-considered strategy that minimizes risk. IT leaders should start by determining the needs of the organization; this means engaging in open and proactive dialogue with lines of business to understand immediate demands and how technology or new capabilities might address them. Only then can IT begin the shift from merely supporting the business to becoming a strategic driver of commercial and operational success. To assist with this, consult with an IT service provider to ensure strategic approaches are implemented correctly.
It pays to first conduct an audit to expose any gaps between the needs of the business and IT’s ability to meet them. This provides an initial roadmap of workloads that need to be hosted and managed internally, and those that can be more effectively supported by new technologies with the help of a solutions partner.
A hybrid strategy should reflect the fact that, as IT environments continue to evolve, the responsibilities and authority of the IT organization will change commensurately. It’s likely that IT will invest less in developing internal specialisms and more in becoming brokers of IT services, partnering with third-party providers to access highly specific skillsets more cost effectively.
Bridging the gap between today and tomorrow
To build a bridge from current state to future state, it’s a good idea for IT leaders to use existing resources intelligently while supporting sensible adoption of new technologies and solutions. While some organizations might attempt to take a DIY approach to Hybrid IT, going it alone may result in cost and complexity, and opportunity costs may be overlooked. Conversely, working with a technology vendor that uses a restrictive “make it fit” solution approach can leave companies still shouldering the management burden.
Hybrid IT calls for a joint approach: Engaging with a service provider that doesn’t lead with a product but instead, starts with an evaluation of requirements and a complete solution aligned to business needs.
For IT leaders, the challenge is to provide enlightened governance amid mounting pressure, spiraling demand and constrained budgets. Taking a strategic approach to hybridization ensures IT teams stay at the forefront of tech decisions, proactively working with business leaders.