Hybrid IT need not be a complex headache for enterprises: either now or in the future By Mark Pestridge, Senior Director at Telehouse.

Having a robust IT infrastructure strategy is critical in helping companies improve efficiency, productivity and maintain competitive advantage and this has only been reinforced by the advent of Covid-19. Research conducted by Telehouse in 2020 - Vision 2030: challenges, opportunities and trends – found 91% were planning to make changes to their IT infrastructure following the pandemic, including increasing bandwidth/connectivity options, shifting more workloads to the cloud, increasing capacity in the data centre and transitioning from on-premise to colocation.

Today, ongoing rapid growth in data volumes is further raising the stakes. More recent research from Telehouse, in the shape of the 2021 study, Race to the Connected Future, revealed that a third of enterprises recognise data growth as a serious problem. As well as grappling with data growth, enterprises are also under pressure to deliver a more mature IT infrastructure. Just 15% say they are ahead of competitors with IT maturity and a third (34%) saying they need to transform their IT infrastructure or risk becoming less competitive.

Many enterprises are turning to edge computing as the answer and are looking to develop high-speed, low-latency interconnections between cloud, colocation and edge computing, all of which are key building blocks of a hybrid IT strategy. The Race to the Connected Future research highlights the fact that many enterprises appear to have adopted such a strategy, with colocation often a key element, offering autonomy, high levels of security and 24x7 support, together with the flexibility to scale capability easily.

At the same time, though, hybrid IT allows organisations to manage some IT resources in-house, enabling them to maintain a centralised approach to governance and keep a tight control on costs - both benefits which might be put at risk by a headlong rush to the cloud.

The data centre often fits in well to this evolving picture of what a hybrid IT infrastructure can provide.

Though many enterprises are often attracted to the functional benefits and physical reach of data centres, their main benefit is the on-demand access to network, cloud/SaaS and edge services ecosystems that they provide. This interconnection between different technologies in the data centre is growing in importance too. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 85% of infrastructure strategies will integrate on-premises, colocation, cloud and edge delivery options, compared with 20% in 2020.

That’s understandable when you consider the many benefits that a hybrid IT approach can deliver.

Reaping the rewards

Organisations increasingly need to gain real time insight from their data either to stay ahead of their rivals or develop new product lines or offerings that deliver competitive advantage. Hybrid IT and high-speed connectivity can help deliver this securely.

At the same time, in this new age of hybrid working, organisations need fast, seamless access to multiple cloud providers regardless of location to deliver the functionality a widely dispersed workforce often needs. And while they are doing all this, they need to keep costs under control. Hybrid IT meets this requirement too by reducing the need, and associated cost of migrating complex legacy applications to the cloud.

Ultimately, it all comes down to balance. By opting for a hybrid IT approach, organisations don’t need to put all of their IT infrastructure in one camp - e.g. public cloud or on-premise. They can balance the agility, flexibility and fast connectivity of the cloud with the cost-control and enhanced governance of keeping some functionality in-house, for example.

Security is often a big draw of hybrid IT, particularly in sectors like financial services. Many organisations want to take advantage of scalability and flexibility benefits of cloud without compromising security or compliance. Many are turning to colocation as the answer; recognising that cloud adoption does not have to be an ‘all or nothing’ approach,

By having at least some of their infrastructure in colocation, these businesses retain autonomy over the server hardware which they use to store data and host apps, while still knowing that the use of data centres gives them 24/7 support and improved bandwidth, higher levels of security and more resilient power and cooling at a fraction of the in-house outlay.

Colocation can also give businesses enhanced control during the migration process. Rather than leaping head-first into public cloud, colocation can provide a hybrid approach, enabling organisations to begin to connect disparate parts of hybrid IT structures to the cloud as and when they’re ready.

Ultimately, the use of hybrid IT enables businesses to use a mix of traditional IT and cloud services to make faster business decisions that deliver enhanced customer engagement. It allows them to capitalise on new market opportunities while remaining compliant, all while keeping a lid on costs and maintaining their competitive edge. In short, rather than being a headache for organisations, hybrid IT can be a real enabler of business advantage both today and long into the future.

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