The Strategic Evolution of Hybrid Data Centres

The Strategic Evolution of Hybrid Data Centres
Adopting a hybrid data centre model provides a range of benefits for organisations, helping them achieve the best of both cloud and on-prem

Spanning public and private clouds and on-premise environments, embracing a hybrid data centre model allows an organisation to achieve a balance between the capabilities and benefits provided by public and private clouds, and on-prem infrastructure.

Research has found that IT leaders are increasingly adopting a hybrid approach, and in some cases undergoing a new trend of cloud repatriation, with security concerns, unexpected costs and performance issues being among the key worries. The hybrid cloud market is expected to be worth US$145bn in 2026, due to the flexibility provided by balancing data between public cloud, private cloud and on-premises.

With a hybrid model being found to be the best of both worlds, the modern, hybrid data centre enables greater IT efficiency, automation, and agility. According to Palo Alto Networks, the use of a hybrid data centre is an evolution strategy that allows organisations to create the right mix of cloud and traditional IT to suit their needs.

Hybrid data centres offer strategic benefits to businesses 

According to Ian Jeffs, UK&I Country General Manager at Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group, hybrid setups are ideal because they allow companies to grow and digitally transform at their own pace. This approach offers the flexibility to choose between on-premise and cloud computing, based on specific business needs and requirements. 

“Hybrid models, especially those using 'pay-as-you-go' services, also enable businesses to scale resources as needed. This scalability is crucial for handling varying workloads and adapting to changing demands,” Jeffs explains. 

Additionally, adopting a hybrid approach reduces risk by eliminating the cost and complexity of migrating applications entirely to the cloud. “It simplifies interoperability without moving critical solutions out of the data centre, providing a more gradual and controlled transition. Hybrid data centres also allow businesses to maintain some critical data on-site, behind company firewalls. This element enhances compliance with governmental and industry-specific regulations, addressing concerns about data privacy and security.” 

How to navigate technical complexities of a hybrid setup 

In the race to meet growing demands for data centre capacity – driven by AI, cloud computing and streaming – today’s data centre operators are looking to integrate on-prem infrastructure with hybrid cloud services to create the right mix of cloud and traditional IT to suit their needs. That’s according to Niklas Lindqvist, Nordic General Manager at Onnec.

“The aim is to help them stay ahead, but the transition is not always seamless,” he says. “Often, outdated on-prem layouts hinder immediate access to the benefits of this integration. Issues like inefficient infrastructure and bad cabling, which are difficult for operators to remedy, add complexity to the integration process.

“As technical complexities continue to rise, navigating the hurdles of more frequent hardware refreshes becomes crucial. Building modular IT infrastructure – emphasising interchangeability and connectivity – is key to facilitating the seamless integration of on-premises infrastructure with cloud services.”

Jeffs, meanwhile, explains that before migration, organisations need to assess the cloud readiness of their systems. “Cloud migration assessment tools can automatically detect interconnected and interdependent applications, helping businesses evaluate the feasibility of moving to the cloud. Then, workload assessment toolkits can identify which servers are suitable for migration, prioritising ‘easy wins’ to minimise disruption,” he adds. “This ensures that the migration process starts smoothly and gains momentum without causing resistance within the organisation.”

He points out that businesses should also learn from successful cases where companies upgrade their systems without downtime, which provides valuable insights. “Adopting proven strategies and partnering with experienced vendors can help navigate technical complexities. For example, Krombacher Brauerei, the largest private brewery in Germany, worked with Lenovo and SAP HANA to find a solution which allowed the company to upgrade its systems without impacting operational efficiency. This system enabled Krombacher to ensure that its mission-critical data centre infrastructure was available 24 hours a day, while adding flexibility within the system to meet changing demand.”

Hybrid data centres and operational efficiency

A key benefit of hybrid data centres, Jeffs explains, is that unlike traditional or fully cloud-based models, the hybrid data centre approach offers on-demand access to innovative technologies without the need for upfront infrastructure costs. “This ensures that companies can leverage advanced solutions when required, enhancing operational efficiency. Other core benefits of hybrid are that hyperconverged infrastructure can virtualise functions, reduce administrative burdens, add flexibility, and remain cost-efficient. This results in operational efficiency gains and a smaller data centre footprint.”

The benefits can be seen with Servimed, one of the largest distributors of pharmaceutical and consumer products in Brazil, which switched to a Lenovo Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solution, cutting up-front costs thanks to adopting a pay-as-you-go hybrid cloud. 

“This was a cost-effective way to switch and was perfect for a company with on-premise infrastructure and highly interconnected systems,” Jeffs asserts. “Since this has been implemented, there has been 100% availability and 40% of the IT team’s time has been freed up, so that they can focus on more valuable tasks within the business. This has boosted productivity and enabled Servimed to continue to provide a great service.”

The evolution of hybrid data centres

As demand for AI compute continues to reshape the data centre landscape, operators are set to face countless hardware upgrades. Lindqvist explains that, in order to avoid unnecessary and expensive overhaul, operators must shift towards modular IT infrastructure, emphasising interchangeability and connectivity. 

“Operators contemplating the shift to creating hybrid data centres have an opportunity to make the future a lot less painful. The key to success lies in taking a holistic approach to design that considers every element and component of a future data centre – from storage and cooling to power and cabling,” he adds. “For example, following cabling best practice at an early stage will enable operators to seamlessly upgrade hardware, providing agile AI compute and allowing operators to adapt to evolving workloads."

Pointing to research by Gartner that suggests the trend toward deploying new digital workloads on cloud-native platforms will continue – with 95% of new digital workloads to be deployed on cloud-native platforms by 2025, up from 30% in 2021 – Jeffs illustrates a growing reliance on cloud technologies within hybrid data centre architectures. “Businesses should therefore try to find a route to the cloud that is both suitable for them now and adaptable to future developments.

“We will also see continued advancements in 'pay-as-you-go' models,” he concludes. “These models provide cost-effective and flexible solutions, aligning with businesses' financial and operational priorities. Additionally, as hybrid adoption increases, tools for assessing cloud readiness and workload migration are likely to become more sophisticated, aiding businesses in navigating technical complexities more effectively.”

 

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