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CIOs can reap the Hybrid Cloud

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CIOs that make use of Hybrid Clouds will gain extreme flexibility, security, scalability and save money when hosting their varied workloads, writes SERVAAS VENTER.

Understanding and capitalising on hybrid cloud are priorities for today’s CIOs. Because it incorporates public and private clouds, a hybrid cloud brings together the best of both worlds by enabling businesses and their IT organisations unprecedented flexibility in where they host their many and varied workloads.

Hybrid cloud also provides the flexibility to use a variety of services, the scalability to keep pace with business volume, the efficiency to keep costs to a minimum and, of course, the ability to protect data and other technology assets.

The business drivers behind hybrid cloud

The main business driver is the imperative to participate effectively in a highly mobile, networked and data-intensive marketplace. Today we have a wide array of mobile devices running a wider array of consumer-oriented applications. Businesses are tapping new data sources, including both structured data from sensors and unstructured data from social media. They’re relying more on agile and automated technology services, many of them cloud-based and self-service. And IT has to build and manage more market-facing applications.

You can’t draw a clean boundary around enterprise computing anymore. Businesses need the platform to encompass all those external resources, and they often need the old world of enterprise applications and databases to work together with the new world of mobile, social media and big data. Hybrid cloud makes that happen seamlessly and securely. It is simply the best platform for driving business innovation and competitive advantage.

Enabling the transition to IT as a Service

With IT as a Service (ITaaS), the outputs of IT that are visible to and consumed by the business are structured as clearly defined and easily managed services. Examples include everything from processing customer orders to on-boarding new employees to backup and recovery of business applications. ITaaS entails major changes on both sides of the ledger:

· Provisioning. A growing number of services are sourced from or performed by third parties. From the business standpoint, a service is a service regardless of origin. So in addition to restructuring its own offerings, IT has to play the role of services broker on behalf of the business, present an integrated catalogue of inside and outside service offerings, and manage that diverse services set.

· Consuming. ITaaS also drives new roles and responsibilities on the business side: help define services and set service levels, access them directly via self-service, monitor and manage consumption levels, and in many cases pay according to actual consumption. This more direct business involvement in the consumption process is good for managing performance, capacity and cost.

Hybrid cloud is the best platform for provisioning an ever-changing mix of internal and external services. It delivers have flexibility in sourcing services, scalability to adjust to changing business demand, the customer experience of a browser-type interface, and the transparency into usage that’s essential for managing consumption and automated billing. It’s the best fit for ITaaS.

Advantages for IT operations and management

Hybrid cloud gives IT much greater flexibility to determine where to run individual workloads including applications and services – in-house, with service providers, or in the public cloud. That in turn makes it much easier to ‚Äòre-platform’ applications by migrating them to more current and robust technology.

Hybrid cloud also provides IT with a richer set of automated monitoring and management tools for a better integrated computing environment. With mundane tasks automated and management simplified, IT is better able to control and optimise the platform while improving infrastructure performance and cost.

The security issue

IT security is an area of extraordinary innovation and transformation these days. Consider three realities:

¬∑ Mobile devices, social media and big data all increase demands on security. Yet they’re part of the extended environment and here to stay.

¬∑ Traditional perimeter defences must be redefined and supplemented to have any chance against the growing onslaught of cyber-intrusions. You can’t build a hard shell around the enterprise when your employees and customers can be anywhere, anytime.

¬∑ Securing sensitive business assets in the public cloud has turned out to be a serious pain point. You have to negotiate how to map and recreate your security apparatus to fit into an external service level agreement. It’s laborious and the results have not inspired confidence. Companies lose data and transactions in public cloud failures. Public cloud security issues have limited the business flexibility that cloud is meant to deliver.

Given those realities, enterprises need more attentive and adaptive approaches to security. Hybrid cloud is an important part of the solution, as it enables enterprises to leverage public cloud services while maintaining the trust of their customers and ensuring consistent enforcement of security policies and compliance with regulations.

EMC’s implementation of hybrid cloud uses technology from VMware (called vCloud Suite) to automate the porting of existing enterprise security mechanisms to public cloud. We do the legwork so the customer can proceed with confidence. Internal enterprise security mechanisms like encryption and auditing remain in place, and management tools implement policy as well as monitor and control operations. Hybrid cloud can be a big step up for security capabilities in most companies.

* Servaas Venter, Country Manager, EMC Southern Africa.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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