Embracing a long-term hybrid cloud strategy in 2023

By Andrew Slater, Practice Director for the Cloud, at Node4
Andrew Slater, Practice Director for the Cloud at Node4, asks will 2023 be the year companies embrace a long-term hybrid cloud strategy?

For businesses seeking to scale and modernise their applications, public cloud platforms remain a popular option. Our Future of Hybrid Cloud research, independently undertaken earlier this year, identified several ways it supports IT departments and broader business goals — both in the short and long term.  

Over half of respondents reported that public cloud has lived up to their expectations. Indeed, IT decision-makers confirmed an array of advantages, including more efficient IT team operations, greener IT infrastructure, improved security posture, enhanced customer services and less downtime. 

In addition, just over a quarter of respondents said public cloud delivered cost savings. But this is a complex area — as you’ll see if you read our full report.  To briefly summarise: Although public cloud may have produced cost savings in some instances, over half of respondents said it cost them more than they initially thought to run. Cost was one of the three main reasons given by respondents for migrating a workload back off a public cloud platform. 

Despite all its positives, public cloud does not offer an across-the-board answer to application scaling and modernisation. Our report confirmed suspicions from informal discussions in the field that most UK companies currently run somewhere between a quarter and a half of their business applications on public cloud platforms — and that less than one in five have migrated their final 25%. 

Diving deeper into the research, we discovered that a significant number of organisations operating public cloud environments continue to run production workloads on their own hardware — even amongst those that had carried out their first public cloud migration over five years ago. 

Could some business applications be less suitable for public cloud than others? 

Data from respondents suggest that some production workloads are not suited to public cloud environments. But before you blame public cloud service providers, consider that there are a great many workloads or applications that are particularly susceptible to latency, subject to specific compliance legislation, or considerably pre-date public cloud technology. Public cloud adoption is also hampered by worries from respondents that, in the longer term, they won’t be able to retain the skills needed to manage their environments. 

Planning for long-term hybrid cloud usage 

Right now, over 40% of respondents plan to be running applications on company-owned hardware. And around the same percentage said they expect to be using a platform provided by a hosting company. This suggests hybrid cloud usage (public cloud plus at least one other infrastructure type) is here to stay. But responses from the IT decision-makers we spoke to indicate that many of them find it hard to manage their hybrid cloud environments and will require additional support.  

Our findings indicate that organisations may be nervous about adopting more formal, long-term hybrid cloud strategies. One in four consider it to be an interim solution while applications are modernised — possibly because of the imagined multi-platform integration and management complexities. 

But the IT decision-makers we interviewed most definitely understand the potential gains that a well-managed hybrid cloud strategy could offer their business — particularly when it came to optimising costs by retaining on-premises or data centre infrastructure. 

When asked, they also said they believed hybrid cloud offers a way to counter latency, edge and performance issues. Thinking back to the opening section of our report, these are issues that respondents felt were holding them back from moving all their applications onto public cloud environments. 

Conclusions

Our research underscores the need amongst UK businesses for a reliable, cost-effective and easy-to-manage way of enabling their non-cloud workloads and infrastructure to benefit from public cloud functionality — such as unified security, backup and recovery, update management, file syncing and monitoring — without requiring any further public cloud migrations. 

Tools such as Azure Arc and Azure Stack HCI have the potential to deliver on these requirements — meeting some of the core hybrid cloud management challenges identified by our respondents. These include the provision of centralised management, compliance, and security, and the ability to run PaaS services outside public cloud and create a unified, manageable hybrid cloud environment.  

Looking ahead, we’re confident that businesses should be able to take full advantage of a hybrid cloud approach and benefit from all the gifts they were promised at the outset of their public cloud deployments. 

 

You can download a full copy of The Future of Hybrid Cloud here.

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