Unlocking IT Agility with a Hybrid Cloud Model

20 August 2019 | Ignatius Wong, Director, Product Management (Hybrid Cloud & IT Solutions), CenturyLink Asia Pacific

In today's application economy, success is defined by an organization's ability to improve business responsiveness to customer needs. Discover how digital businesses are increasingly pivoting to hybrid cloud environments to unlock IT agility.

With everyone—and everything—connected on the digital highway, sustainable growth in today’s business environment has become synonymous with applications.

Customer experiences are increasingly shaped by new advances in connected devices and the applications that run on them. Think about the disruptive impact of digital retail banking with no branches, or how “born-in-the-cloud” enterprises such as Airbnb, Netflix, or Gojek have upended traditional industries with new digital business models.

These trends are also evident in the world of connected retail. Cloud solutions and a robust network infrastructure provide the building blocks for retailers to gain access to data collected from IoT devices. This data can be tapped to build more personalized offerings and mobile apps to boost customer loyalty.
This is life in the application economy. When applications become the first and primary touchpoint with their customers, organizations simply cannot afford any downtime.

As a result, software applications have become one of the differentiating factors that can make or break customer experiences. 

The most successful digital businesses are those who have built up strong application delivery capabilities to meet evolving customer needs. For such companies, applications can be built, tested and deployed in a matter of hours, instead of weeks and months. 

Discover how digital business leaders thrive in a world driven by data applications.

IT agility is a key imperative for digital businesses

To keep pace with unprecedented application demands, enterprises in Asia Pacific (APAC) are increasingly turning to hybrid multi-cloud environments to drive faster time-to-market and improved customer experiences.

According to IDC1, up to 50% of enterprise IT budgets in APAC are committed to cloud architectures, and this is expected to increase due to the adoption of hybrid cloud.

An effective hybrid cloud strategy, supported by a reliable and robust network infrastructure, is the surest way to deliver seamless application performance with agility, consistency and security. It enables IT organizations to become more agile and lower IT infrastructure costs. Instead of being stuck with rigid legacy systems, IT teams now have the flexibility to choose to deploy the right application and workload in the right cloud environment and improve business responsiveness.

IT agility is linked to how well a company can combine its on-premise resources with public and private cloud services to scale effectively and adapt to changing business demands.

A well-managed cloud infrastructure is also integral to an organization's ability to scale and respond to new market conditions.

Japan's Info Mart Corporation is a good case-in-point. The software company had around 300 customers in the food and beverage industry when it first launched in 1998. Today, that number has expanded rapidly to more than 300,000 customers using its flagship BtoB Platform, which digitizes commercial transactions that are traditionally conducted offline.

Scaling up its business operations would not have been possible without a high-capacity cloud environment to deliver always-on services and support its customers' daily activities. Buoyed by its success, Info Mart will continue pursuing its digital business journey by strengthening the BtoB platform with blockchain technology.

The only way to go is hybrid

So why have a hybrid cloud? In building a hybrid cloud estate, IT organizations unlock greater agility by creating a fully integrated pool of resources across on-premise, public and private cloud environments that can be shared and accessed for on-demand scalability.

Hybrid cloud architectures help bring together the best aspects of public and private clouds:

  • Public clouds provide the burst capacity whenever needed, ideal for addressing seasonal spikes in demand for IT resources, for instance. But the public cloud is typically not the most secure infrastructure to handle sensitive customer data and does not have the features to support highly customized applications that are developed in-house. Costs may also fluctuate more dramatically in a public cloud environment.  
  • Private clouds offer you better control over data and workloads, suited for mission-critical applications that require a dedicated platform to perform up to par. Enterprises can protect their most sensitive data on private servers and networks, while still enabling public cloud resources to run applications that rely on that data. However, most private clouds are single-tenant or are limited in terms of scalability as compared to public cloud services. 

Key benefits of hybrid cloud deployments that accelerate IT agility

Flexibility to combine public and private cloud services together with on-premise resources

Reduced security risks with sensitive data stored on private servers while enabling applications to run in the public cloud

Simplified management of applications and workloads across diverse environments

There are other benefits too. A hybrid cloud model can simplify operations management and governance of applications and data spread across disparate hosting environments. A report by Frost & Sullivan2 discovered that 86% of businesses are looking for hybrid platforms that will provide them the ability to easily migrate application workloads among different environments.

Overcoming the hurdles of hybrid cloud deployments

That said, running a hybrid cloud infrastructure in-house brings along a host of challenges. In the same report, Frost & Sullivan researchers pointed out that 49% of businesses have trouble managing multiple public and private clouds.

In addition, 46% say they do not know how to choose the right infrastructure that can best support each application workload. Cloud and workload migration issues add another layer of complexity.

Getting the right mix of hybrid cloud environments enables enterprises to innovate faster and ensure their applications are operating at their best performance.

Key considerations for implementing a hybrid cloud model include:

  1. Which legacy applications and workloads are best suited to be moved to public cloud platforms?
  2. Is your hybrid cloud infrastructure compliant with your business’ security and regulatory requirements?
  3. How much control do you have over how your public cloud resources are used and managed?
  4. Are you able to effectively manage and monitor the different services within your hybrid cloud environment?

These are complex issues that your IT teams may be saddled with-preventing them from focusing their time on driving new digital services. Hybrid clouds are inherently difficult to manage in-house and are best deployed with managed service providers (MSPs) with the cloud expertise and knowledge to support every stage of your cloud transformation journey.
Asia's leading agribusiness group charts its journey to the cloud with CenturyLink and SAP
Ultimately, getting the right mix of hybrid cloud environments enables enterprises to innovate faster and reduce time-to-market, with applications operating at their best performance. Get in touch with us to explore how CenturyLink can help you make the most of your hybrid cloud deployments and reap the benefits of IT agility.  

1 Source: IDC Asia/Pacific Cloud Services: Cloud Platforms July 2018

2 Stratecast “THE HYBRID CLOUD LANDSCAPE Perspectives from the 2018 Frost & Sullivan Cloud User Survey CLOUD COMPUTING (CC) 8-05, December 2018

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