Electric Board

by Joshua Whitney Allen

Commerce looks to hybrid cloud for savings and flexibility

Published July 16, 2014


The technology culture has heralded the hybrid concept as a way for companies to harness the best advantages of both cloud computing and internal resources. Hybrid infrastructures allow enterprises to preserve the control of their local IT assets while deploying other assets in the public cloud. Noting the allure of the flexibility, affordable cost, and empowerment promised by the hybrid idea, observers predict that hybrid infrastructures will be the business world’s most prominent engagement with cloud technology.

“Many companies are looking for ways to take advantage of the cloud with all its additional data access, connections and efficiencies,” says Brian Whitfield, the General Manager for Strategic Outsourcing in North America for IBM Global Technology Services. “They want to be sure they are starting with applications that make sense for their business, while maintaining the integrity of their data and existing investments. The answer is hybrid cloud.”

The enthusiasm for hybrid cloud technology is steady and pervasive. Last year, Cisco found that roughly three-quarters of survey respondents planned to engage in hybrid cloud solutions. Infonetics Research announced in February that the hybrid concept “is the next evolution in cloud architecture, with adoption among enterprises expected to more than double by 2015,” according to a leading analyst.

3 steps to moving business operations into a hybrid cloud>>

“For most organizations, moving from a traditional IT environment to the cloud will not be one step, but rather a journey over time,” says Whitefield. “To get there, it is critical to take the right steps.”

  1. Think it:  The first step is to think about which workloads work best in the cloud based on workload characteristics and business value.  You need to think about how to use cloud to drive not just cost savings, but innovation, revenue and growth.
  2. Build it: Once you have a cloud strategy in place, you have to define the standards for your organization that enables you to implement a single portal and select the right technologies and services to build the right hybrid model.
  3. Tap into it: Once you have the ability to orchestrate various cloud services, you want to quickly leverage cloud infrastructure, analytics, and SaaS business applications to take advantage of the speed, flexibility and agility in the cloud to accelerate innovation.

X Close

IBM predicts that 61 percent of enterprises are expected to use hybrid cloud environments by the end of the year. Despite challenges raised by hybrid architectures—issues of security and networking complexity—Big Blue has raced to the front of this blooming market, announcing partnerships at an impressive pace.

In Q2 alone, IBM announced alliances with several businesses. NiSource, a public utility company based in Indiana, recently signed a seven-year agreement with IBM for the continuation of IT services, including creating and managing a hybrid cloud computing environment. The deal is valued at approximately $600 million, similar to previous NiSource-IBM service agreements.

Many companies are looking for ways to take advantage of the cloud with all its additional data access, connections and efficiencies. They want to be sure they are starting with applications that make sense for their business, while maintaining the integrity of their data and existing investments. The answer is hybrid cloud.

Brian Whitfield, the General Manager for Strategic Outsourcing in North America for IBM Global Technology Services

In June, IBM and enterprise tech giant SAP announced a deal to deliver the SAP HANA product on the cloud through SoftLayer, the cornerstone in IBM’s cloud computing business. The relationship will allow SAP HANA customers running SAP applications on SoftLayer to achieve lower support expenses and expanded hybrid cloud solutions, according to a statement. 

Pitney Bowes and IBM are collaborating to leverage IBM Bluemix as a platform for hybrid cloud solutions for Pitney Bowes customers. The platform-as-a-service product will allow Pitney Bowes “to expose key solutions, such as location-based services, e-commerce fulfillment, Internet postage, and parcel management, through IBM’s API Management to an extended ecosystem of innovators and developers. It also speeds the availability of new services from Pitney Bowes to vast new markets globally.”

The public sector also presents IBM with a strong demand for cloud technology. A civil rights organization in South Korea, The Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission, is working with IBM to enhance its call center capabilities with hybrid cloud infrastructure.

According to a statement, “The new system will include a hybrid cloud and provide the backbone for ACRC electronic platforms. ACRC is expected to field more than 1.25 million complaints, 2.2 million civil petitions, and 30,000 administrative appeals per year. The IBM mainframe solution will allow ACRC to handle its integrated database workloads on 20 virtual machines—as the system expands; this number is projected to increase to more than 100 virtual machines and to cover all ACRC departments by the end of 2015.” 

5 advantages of implementing a hybrid cloud>>

According to Whitefield, hybrid leverages the best of both worlds, leading to better business outcomes such as:

  1. For companies with large IT investments, hybrid allows them to seamlessly combine their existing infrastructure with elastic models by defining an orchestration model that places work in the most effective delivery model. 
  2. Hybrid allows organizations to keep some workloads on best-fit infrastructure and move others to public cloud for better economics.
  3. It affords the right balance of risk to speed, by enabling you to keep critical, sensitive data in house and implement faster, more agile applications in a cloud.
  4. You can extend your current IT and private clouds with public capabilities to meet seasonal capacity requirements (for example, holiday peaks) without the need for additional CAPEX.
  5. Hybrid allows you to meet the ever changing demands that come with today's new mobile, social and analytics driven systems of engagement.

X Close

These strategic engagements have pushed IBM to the forefront of a thriving cloud technology marketplace. Synergy Research Group categorizes IBM in the highest echelon of cloud providers, along with Microsoft and Amazon Web Services. Activity in a host of industries—healthcare, insurance, utilities, finance—and a 50 percent increase in cloud revenue in Q1 2014 over the end of 2013 indicates that IBM will continue to strategize in the hybrid cloud space—a space that is not without its challenges.

Hybrid cloud customers keep risk in-house
The Department of Commerce calls hybrid cloud infrastructure “a composition of two or more distinct cloud infrastructures (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities, but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability.”

Hybrid cloud models pose challenges to administrators and IT staff. Public and on-premises assets require coordination of security across the external and internal resources, and it can be easier for companies to manage their localized policies than assets deployed to external cloud structures.   

“The real world context is that you can’t do everything yourself—so hybrid cloud is a legitimate trend” as more companies engage in some blend of public and private infrastructure, said David Mitchell Smith, cloud analyst at Gartner. “It is very common to see [companies] deploying other assets on public resources, while you have some of your assets on-premises to minimize risk.”

Observers also believe that hybrid cloud infrastructures present IT teams with complex development and administration missions. For example, where to locate data storage safely is a constant question for enterprises committing to a hybrid model.

These issues do not seem to be slowing the market, though, and some firms turn to the cloud to solve the very issues that the concept is supposed to raise. Finnish technology company Qvantel recently committed to a five-year agreement with IBM. 

According to a statement, “Qvantel chose to deploy a private cloud solution from IBM to take advantage of reliable, scalable, and secured services as well as allow rapid implementation of new services in the future. Customers' requirements for privacy also played an important role in choosing its production method.”



No one has commented on this item.