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October 5, 2021 7 min read

Hybrid Cloud Story


Evolution of technology

As technology continues to evolve, organisations are reacting in a variety of ways to this disruption. We see those who are successfully navigating this evolution adopting a framework of orchestration layers to best position themselves to manage this challenge.

Cloud has been the biggest disruptor over the past decade. Interestingly, to 2019 only saw 20% of the global pool of workload moved to cloud and that's still true today.

Why is this the case? Highly integrated complex workloads have not been seen as good cloud candidates. To date, we have lacked the trust and confidence to place mission critical workloads on cloud. Today, we are moving into a new chapter of cloud one shaped not just by technology, but by global events like COVID-19. This new phase is one where adoption of cloud native and born on the cloud services will accelerate. The 80/20 will flip by 2025.

And interestingly, cloud native forms will dominate where 75% of workloads moving to cloud will transition to containers, microservice and serverless architectures. This means the largest wave of business transformation is just ahead where organisations will look to not just lift and shift to cloud, but modernize at scale, orchestrate flexibly and focus on outcomes through adoption of exponential technology and do so from cloud and out to the Edge. Interesting to note that today, 95% of all projects that include AI are not successful. It is apparent learning platforms are not the same as traditional solutions. Critical skills are scarce slowing the development of AI solutions and clients are struggling to scale AI capability from the lab and into production. Today, many organisations have adopted cloud services and most now have a mixed environment of public and private cloud, on premise infrastructure, software and platform as a service, and of course, Edge.

What is Edge?

Edge is the next area of forecasted growth with predictions for a massive increase in data generated at the Edge by 2025. This situation creates a number of challenges for organisations, particularly for those who have a desire to move entirely onto cloud. How can they manage exponential growth of data at the Edge? It is expected that the arrival of 5G and increasing development of new IoT use cases over the next few years will accelerate this trend. These mixed environments are of course, hybrid clouds. In New Zealand, 84% of organisations are already hybrid where organisations have leveraged multiple clouds and passed all SaaS together, we call these hybrid multi-cloud environments. Importantly, for hybrid and hybrid multi cloud organisations, this means we now have data everywhere. So what does this mean as we stand at the top of the next wave of transformation? IBM has carried out hundreds of client interviews every year since 2017.

And these are the current priority concerns for CIO and CTOs across the globe movement between clouds. Can I move a service or workload from one place to another? Am I locked in? Connectivity between clouds. As we become hybrid multicloud adopters, how do I connect everything together to exchange data and information across my environment? How do I avoid silos in cloud? And lastly, how do I ensure a consistent approach to the management of my cloud, including the life cycle events of cloud assets, like virtual servers and application containers? How do I manage my cloud security posture and ensure it can be applied in a consistent, robust manner no matter the cloud in question? Against this backdrop of concerns, we also know that technology is evolving at an ever increasing rate and that that pace is not about to let up, how can an organisation insulate itself from technology disruption?

Challenges of the cloud

How can organisations decouple technology to make it easier to adopt and discard services? And how can we do that in a way that avoid locking us into monocloud approaches. Organisations are looking for ways to effectively and efficiently achieve visibility and transparency across the hybrid cloud environment. Ones that allow for the same resource life cycle processes and practices, no matter the cloud. A capability that moves forwards an automated zero touch environment, creating an immutable infrastructure. One where we adopt an agnostic stance to where and whose cloud the resource sits on. This redirects focus onto the life cycle and events for resources. Can it be provisioned, maintained, managed, and disposed of easily and do that with automation at the core? Whose cloud it sits on is infinitely less important than increasing how effective we are in managing across our hybrid cloud and reducing the human touch points at every lifecycle stage.

This common control plane supports the move to agile delivery and the formation of DevSecOps teams allowing visibility across the delivery cycle today to operation. The common control plane includes container and microservice orchestration capabilities, including the CI/CD tool chain necessary to manage these services with automation through to production release. Finally, this enables application portability across your hybrid cloud. Software defined infrastructures, containers and automated IT operations are enabling zero touch environment. This requires a new way of working for the traditional system administrator. Site reliability engineers is the reinvented systems admin for today. SREs are engineers who work alongside the delivery squads to enable the success of the sprint. Sitting above immutable infrastructures, organisations are seeking to introduce modernized application and data integration capabilities. These improved governance reduce complexity and speed time to development with reusable API assets and definitions. Doing so enables the ability to pivot towards the new technologies as they appear and to decouple older existing services as they are no longer required.

This reduces lock-in, creates flexibility and of course, is based on open source and open standards, which underpin this ability to pivot. Your full stack developers can stop coding bespoke API integrations, and focus on what really matters, building business value. Having orchestrated your environment through a common control plane and integration capability, you can focus more time on what is important, your data. The third layer is your data mesh. Managing and understanding your data is key. Reducing siloed data and deriving insight is essential because systems of record now exist across your hybrid cloud environment. We call this the AI ladder. Today it is not enough to only have a data lake and a classic analytics capability, the future requires the ability to automate the collection and organizing of your data no matter where it is. The ability to generate automated models and AI algorithms and infuse these into your solutions at speed and with transparency, the AI ladder is critically important to move faster to achieve value.

Today, organisations need to find insights wherever they can. Capabilities that allow AI to be delivered anywhere, including at the Edge will be critical to avoid the cost of dragging all your data to the cloud. How can we increase our success with AI. Through automation of the collection and organizing of data we can focus our effort on modeling and building faster. It is essential to have transparency in AI solutions and be able to avoid bias as we scale services towards production. These capabilities speed our time to value for AI projects. Automation often referred to as the fourth industrial revolution is the fourth orchestration capability essential to the future of transformation.

Automation: the fourth industrial revolution

Automation capabilities leverage event based architectures, robotic process automation, intelligent workflows infused with AI to create humanistic and human centric services. These are the core components of a cognitive enterprise, where intelligent workflows automate rote work, augment human decision-making and enable higher value working for your people. Throughout this journey we've been capturing attributes. These are the principles that underpin the IBM public cloud. These can shape the architecture principles for your success.

We have shared the technology orchestration layer is essential to the future of your transformation. However, we must keep focused on business value and understand the impact your transformation will have on your people. As we have seen most organisations have hybrid infrastructures, ones that can still be described traditionally, i.e., in layers beginning with telecommunications and network, infrastructure, applications, and data. These are bottom heavy, technically complex environments. The majority of your ICT people and resources will be directed at supporting, maintaining, and operating these environments. They are hidden working below the line, operating our network storage and applications, keeping the machinery going for our organisation.

A principle focus for transformation today is if it's not core to the business, stop doing it. For ICT, this means we should shift from managing infrastructures and give these tasks to someone whose primary business is the delivery of ICT managed services. As you allow others to do the doing, introduce your orchestration layers to maintain governance, visibility, and control of your ICT environment. This will improve transparency across your enterprise. By abstracting away the day-to-day management of ICT, you can free yourself to concentrate on what counts, enabling your business.

To achieve this, repurpose your people and skills. In other words, invert your resource pyramid, redirect your workforce to drive business value through automation and the adoption of exponential technology, accelerate the achievement of your business goals and objectives and focus on what's really important.

Author: Tony Buswell, CTO - IBM New Zealand



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