Hybrid IT: the good, the bad and the inevitable
If you’re counting on a Hybrid IT strategy as a way to save money, you may wish to think again, according to recent research by Vanson Bourne, conducted on behalf of Sungard Availability Services. The survey of 700 IT decision-makers across the US and Europe in major financial services, retail, healthcare and other organizations found that half have seen IT costs stay the same or rise since adopting a Hybrid IT strategy. Of course, that means the other half have realized cost savings, suggesting that the price tag attached to a hybrid estate can vary wildly according to approach.
On the other hand, if you anticipate that hybridization will have a positive impact on your business despite any increase in costs, you’ll be reassured to discover that 94 percent claim to have done just that. Despite the growing skills gaps and the potential complexity of blending cloud resources with existing on premise IT environments, almost three-quarters of enterprises report that Hybrid IT is key to staying competitive. IT leaders cite an increase in business agility (46 percent), improved customer service (41 percent) and faster product development (34 percent) as beneficial outcomes.
Geography is certainly a factor, with US organizations appearing to be faring particularly well; 65 percent claim to have more agile businesses thanks to Hybrid IT (compared to 53 percent of UK organizations), and 88 percent of US respondents feel Hybrid IT is a must-have competitive weapon, compared to a slightly less enthusiastic 68 percent of European firms.
How did we get here?
The study reveals that 45 percent were driven to Hybrid IT as an evolutionary step towards the cloud, while 38 percent believe it offers competitive advantage, and a third point to changing customer and workforce expectations that have made Hybrid IT the de facto approach. It’s often necessary to combine cloud environments with on premise systems in the wake of mergers and acquisitions. Almost half of organizations cite needing to keep mission-critical legacy applications running as a key reason for employing Hybrid IT, while almost as many report that M&A activity had left their organization with multiple IT systems.
Managing a hybrid estate is not without its challenges, however. Four out of ten organizations rate their current IT as very or extremely complex, with only 3 percent claiming their environment was straightforward. Perhaps more worryingly, over a third admit that they don’t fully understand their own architecture.
Mind the skills gap
The current skills shortage does nothing to simplify whatever degree of complexity organizations are already wrestling with. Almost nine out of ten respondents said their team lacks at least one required skill, with four out of ten confessing that their organization isn’t up to the task of managing the complexity of their hybrid IT estates. The main gaps appear to be the ability to respond to security issues (37 percent), managing different IT systems across different departments (28 percent) and integrating and maintaining public and private cloud environments (27 percent apiece).
However, while almost half of organizations say that the complexity of Hybrid IT is hindering innovation, there is an underlying willingness to overcome this roadblock: almost three-quarters of enterprises are prepared to invest in developing internal skill-sets to successfully run their Hybrid IT estate. Another option, of course, is for enterprises to work more closely with third party infrastructure, application and managed services providers to take advantage of their expertise and experience, particularly where the cost of cultivating such skills in-house is prohibitive.
Whether your own Hybrid IT journey begins with a clear roadmap or, like many, you simply fall into it through a series of events, there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. Not every usage scenario or application is suited to a cloud service delivery model, so a degree of hybridization is inevitable for today’s businesses. It seems that, recognizing this, IT leaders are pragmatic about preparing to conquer the complexities and challenges of running a hybrid environment, focused on creating the best possible foundation for business innovation and growth.
Janine Benoit is Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing, Sungard Availability Services.