The Keys to Mastering Hybrid Cloud to Unlock Further Innovation

By Tom Rosamilia, SVP, IBM Systems

Tom Rosamilia, SVP, IBM Systems

A new era of information technology is giving birth to a new era of business. While we are barely in the second decade of the revolutionary leap from analog to digital, we are now on the cusp of even more dramatic and disruptive change.

"The vast majority of businesses are already aware of this technological ultimatum that hinges on hybrid cloud adoption"

Let’s make this simple. Technology used to be big— monolithic, Foundational, the piping, and plumbing of business. However, with the explosion of unstructured data, the immediacy of real-time, the ubiquity of mobile, the globalization of everything, and the ever-present and ever-pressing necessity of security, more is expected, required, and demanded from IT leaders than ever before. While they were once viewed solely as technicians, they are now seen as the catalysts and strategists behind business success.

As more companies struggle to meet the demands of this new era, IT leaders are now being challenged to add value by opening their enterprises to new ways of doing business. No more sitting in wait for a changing world. They must be willing to discard old paradigms, embrace cutting-edge thinking and technologies, and become masters of innovation. Organizations must be willing to evaluate their current technology and make a decision: Will they be disrupted by these marketplace shifts, or will they take advantage of these opportunities to innovate first?

That point was driven home during interviews with l5 IT leaders in companies from different industries and across the world who were surveyed in an IBM Institute for Business Value study. We set out to answer some basic questions: What are the core issues organizations are wrestling with as their industries shift to more digitally-based businesses? What changes both in infrastructure technology and mindset are essential to lead an IT organization through these turbulent times? And how will all this shape the future of IT infrastructures? The answers boil down to a simple but profound imperative: Mastering hybrid cloud is the key to unlocking the potential for innovation.

The vast majority of businesses are already aware of this technological ultimatum that hinges on hybrid cloud adoption. Hybrid clouds are becoming the primary and pragmatic approach to leveraging a variety of cloud services that include public, private and managed services. Many times, it is a hybrid cloud infrastructure that will elevate one customer experience over another. Global business and governments are already living in a hybrid cloud world. In short, it’s not just cloud—its hybrid cloud, which is redefining this new way forward.

The key finding of the IBV study is that to drive digital transformation in a hybrid cloud era, IT infrastructures must evolve in three ways:

Enable ecosystem integration;

Optimize transaction and analytic processing; and

Build flexible capacity to address rapidly changing business conditions.

The study confirms that making the right transformational technology investments and changing existing mindsets are critical for a successful digital business strategy. At IBM Systems we are focused on these opportunities to provide the hybrid cloud platform of choice globally for enterprises of all sizes–aligned with our corporate clients, our business partners and developers around the world who are increasingly developing applications for the cloud.

A number of the IT leaders we surveyed said a first step in that journey is building and integrating strong, open ecosystems. They understand that their future success not only depends on their own IT capabilities, but the ability to connect with others in the marketplace. Participation in a number of ecosystems is now viewed as a way to provide unique and differentiated services to customers without requiring the entire suite of capabilities in-house. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are increasingly being seen as the primary vehicle through which these connections between firms are being made.

Our study also confirmed that the ability to process transactions and derive insights from data, to quickly support decision making within the organization, is now at the heart of IT infrastructure. IBM hybrid cloud technologies brings different sources of data together, helping make that data easier to access, while IBM’s cognitive computing and analytics provide a substantial ability to deliver thoughtful business insight. As one financial services company told us, “The ability to handle large amounts of both structured and unstructured data is key to our success.”

Finally, developing an IT infrastructure that can confidently address rapidly changing internal and external customer needs was a key theme highlighted by many study participants. An inability to shift quickly to meet these unpredictable demands can result in lost revenue, negative brand awareness, and loss of customers to competitors.

The conversation between IT leaders and their customers is changing. Clients are no longer asking solely what is unique about a portfolio of products in a traditional way. They recognize that a massive paradigm shift taking place. And they must answer a fundamental question: will they become victims of disruption or will they leverage the right strategies to win in this changing marketplace.