Hybrid Cloud—the Platform for Digital Transformation

Technology is continually changing the way businesses reach and serve their customers—often in ways that are disruptive and threatening. PNC Financial Services Group predicts 40 percent of the top 20 businesses in every industry will face a new competitive threat, often using new digital techniques to change the industry landscape.1 Cloud computing—public cloud services in particular—enable much of the disruption businesses face. But while public cloud services offer IT new options to bring innovation to the market quickly, we believe being a disrupter rather than the disrupted requires a digital transformation that lets IT deploy applications and share data using a hybrid cloud – an integrated combination of public clouds and private, on-premises systems. Today, I’ll talk about the whats and whys of hybrid cloud. Then over the next few weeks I’ll follow up with some of the hows that can help IT organizations meet the new set of business demands.

First, let’s consider why this is such a challenge for IT. The needed transformation isn’t just a technology update.  This digital transformation requires IT to adopt a new set of goals along with the processes, tools, metrics, and measures needed to achieve them. In the past, businesses valued efficiency and stability, and they measured IT on the cost and availability of IT services. Increasingly, however, businesses demand the ability to respond quickly to market changes, to bring innovation to the market rapidly, and to counter competitive threats immediately. So what they increasingly demand of IT is agility—dramatically reduced time to market for new and changed apps and services.

Public clouds have played well into this new set of needs—especially for infrastructure teams—by enabling self-service to shorten deployment times. And public infrastructure-as-a-service offerings blend well with server virtualization, which most enterprises have embraced and deployed. But this approach is limited in a number of ways.

First, while spinning up virtual machines (VMs) in public clouds is easy for the infrastructure team, application teams are still left with the tasks of provisioning the VMs with the middleware and other software needed to support each application and deploying the application itself. These tasks remain complex and time consuming. In addition, simply moving in-house VMs and applications to the cloud, “lift and shift,” may not achieve the scalability and resilience some applications need. Network latency and memory and CPU contention can be a greater factor in shared environments. Integration with other applications, security and governance requirements, and data sovereignty considerations require many applications to continue to be hosted on premises. So enterprises must evaluate each application carefully to determine where the workload is best hosted.

But there’s good news: The approaches and technologies pioneered by public cloud providers are now available for enterprises to apply within their own networks. This lets enterprises create a common architecture across public and on-premises systems, governed by a common set of policies, supported by a common set of development and deployment tools and processes, and surmounted by common management and automation frameworks.

This architecture lets IT transform cloud environments from just a simple infrastructure pool to an application environment that spans development, deployment, and operations. You choose the most appropriate execution environment for each application and deploy it internally or externally via the same tools and processes. A new generation of cloud-native apps can take full advantage of the scalability and resilience potential of cloud computing while running side by side with traditional apps. It brings the benefits of cloud computing to the IT application team, finally achieving the agility businesses demand. And, by the way, it reduces the cost and enhances the availability of IT services as well.

Solutions from the VMWare* Cloud Foundation, Microsoft Azure* Stack, and Red Hat OpenShift* bring this important capability to enterprises today. And because of our commitment to hybrid cloud computing as the architecture of the future, we have worked closely with each of them to optimize their solutions for the Intel® Xeon® Scalable® processors your data centers rely on.

Keep an eye on this space. Next month I’ll continue this discussion by describing how to evaluate and optimize workload placement in your hybrid cloud environment. In the meantime, visit our enterprise cloud site at www.intel.com/cloud to learn how to simplify the path to hybrid cloud.

1 PNC Financial Services Group, “Digital Disruption Challenges Companies to Rethink Business Strategies,” 2016