Prasad Kale, Director APJ
“I probably shouldn't be making any new resolutions this year...mainly because I'm still working on the ones from last year” this dilemma aptly sums up mind of every senior IT executive today. While each year places a new demand on them, they never get to start the year on a clean slate. They’re caught between modernizing core legacy systems to support business while enabling growth through new off-premises technologies (such as Cloud), needing to embrace the new, and capitalizing the old. How could do they do this effectively? By adopting to the new world of “Hybrid IT”. This new world allows them to maintain control on applications & data in their own four walls, yet take advantage of innovation in marketplace – and this world is here to stay. In fact, embracing this approach has clear benefits. A 2015 research of McKinsey’s Organizational Health Index showed that companies with both speed and stability have a 70 percent chance of being ranked in the top quartile by organizational health. What does IT need to do to conquer and effectively operate in this new world? What skills are required to master it? Hera are a few tips:
Find your balance: The journey to Hybrid IT begins with architecting end state IT design for your company. This requires defining key business rules around what applications & data are to be placed where. This is governed by key criteria such as performance, cost, security & agility. Typically mission critical systems are best left on-premises, while the “edge” applications – typically mobile apps, web based applications are placed in the public cloud to leverage advantages of flexibility & innovation. This is not a one-time exercise &the mix will also differ by industry. A hidden benefit of doing this exercise is that it forces a Business-IT dialog about value of each application & how it relates to business processes. This further allows IT to consider strategies to consolidate or retire applications, apart from selecting the right destination, working along with business units.
"One of the common mistakes that early adopters have made is to keep the self-service function limited to IT administrators instead of offering to developers"
Drive to the right balance: The next task is to accelerate your IT towards this optimum balance. This means doing two things at once: firstly, modernizing your on-premises platform for enable application stability, automation & agility. Secondly, consuming off-premises public cloud services to power your rapid application development, and obtain flexible capacity. A critical element of this phase is to architect & implement a hybrid IT management platform for consistently managing the two environments as a single resource pool that can be orchestrated & delivered to power your systems.
Optimize the balance: This is the “Day after” you have built your hybrid IT environment and the phase when you start reaping benefits of hybrid IT. One of the most important aspect of this is enabling a self-service user experience of the hybrid IT environment, and enabling business to consume IT services on demand. IT becomes a true service provider by administering the hybrid IT platform - reshuffling resources based on demand, administering security policies, and billing based on usage. This can only happen through a universal management platform that can “speak” to disparate systems though common language to orchestrate. This requirement is difficult to meet and usually an “open source” based platform provides a clever answer. One of the common mistakes that early adopters have made is to keep the self-service function limited to IT administrators instead of offering to developers. This limits ability to fully leverage benefits of hybrid IT platform by not offloading administration tasks (e.g. provisioning) & flexibility in the hands of developers.
Management of hybrid IT also requires new world skills & metrics by which it is measured. IT is no longer providers of application, data & infrastructure. It now needs to assume responsibility as “service provider of outcomes”. Therefore the new hybrid IT requires deeper understanding of business, innovation and risk management skills. Also, metrics for IT shifts from availability & performance of IT systems to improved cycle time for rapid prototyping of new business models, enabling new revenue streams, and best internal customer experience in consumption of IT. Managing Hybrid IT not only requires new world skills, but also a significant change of culture in IT organization. Everything becomes “software defined” and thus managing applications & infrastructure becomes a matter of “changing the code”. This somewhat challenges the traditional ITIL/Waterfall based processes to give rise to new ideas of “continuous & iterative change management”.
In summary, the new mobile consumer dominated age makes every business a technology business and “as-a-service” business. It demands a balancing act from IT executives to play a central role in transformation of business through hybrid IT.