Hybrid cloud: the future of enterprise IT

By Hamilton Ratshefola, Director of General Business, IBM

Cloud computing is universally accepted as one of the major disruptive forces impacting IT today. But few enterprises are ready to migrate all their data and applications to a public cloud. With key concerns including latency, security and control over critical data and applications, CIOs of major enterprises are opting to migrate to the cloud in a cautiously progressive manner that aligns with their own governance, risk and compliance guidelines.

Our major clients all over the world are transitioning to a hybrid cloud model to benefit from the best of both worlds – linking traditional IT systems to the cloud through the IBM cloud portfolio built on the  SoftLayer foundation. These enterprises have discovered that they can maintain on-premise control of key applications and data while moving other workloads – so-called systems of engagement with customers and partners – to the cloud for quick access to data, expansion of new services and cost reductions. New enterprise customers including Macy’s, Whirlpool, Daimler subsidiary moovel Gmbh, Sicoss Group and many others are transforming their operations for the emerging hybrid cloud era. This is in line with Gartner’s forecast that by 2016, over a quarter of all applications (around 48 million) will be available in the cloud, and by the end of 2017, nearly half of large enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments. (http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2599315)

Gartner notes that most enterprises are looking to future private cloud deployments by starting with small pilot projects with limited functionality, noting that ‘While the majority of midsize and large enterprises will build and deploy private cloud services over the next few years, private cloud will only be used for specific, appropriate services.’ Gartner adds that ‘Where organisations do decide to deploy cloud services, the technology they choose matters tremendously. It's important to choose a technology foundation that offers room for expansion — both in terms of functionality richness, and in terms of hybrid cloud interoperability for the future.’

The functionality and interoperability of the solutions enabling the hybrid cloud are critically important in helping enterprises transition to the cloud. Enterprises should not be forced to change their own IT environment to benefit from the cloud: rather, they should look to solutions that adapt to meet the needs of the application; which deliver scaling, load balancing, and a variety of server and security models, all available on demand. With the right foundations in place, enterprises are positioning themselves to move increasingly critical data and applications to the cloud, and to use the cloud to effectively address new challenges, such as big data analytics.

Forward-thinking enterprises are already capitalising on the benefits of a hybrid cloud model in a variety of ways. Daimler subsidiary moovel is now using IBM’s high performance SoftLayer cloud infrastructure to develop and distribute mobile apps for its car2go ride sharing service. moovel’s smartphone apps offer a range of mobility services such as train, bicycle, taxis and car sharing to help the customer determine the fastest or least expensive way to travel from A to B. 
Whirlpool, the world's leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances, is taking advantage of the flexibility of IBM Cloud, including Softlayer, to transition from an on-premise environment to a globally integrated hybrid cloud model to drive ecommerce sales, streamline orders, reduce costs, improve flexibility and speed processing time.

Macy's, a North America based retailer, is leveraging SoftLayer for a comprehensive mix of bare metal and shared cloud infrastructure to provide a new operating model that supports the retailers need for scalability and long term business goal of continuous availability.   

Sicoss Group, the company that processes Social Security, and payroll calculations for customers across Mexico under the auspices of the Mexican Social Security Authority, is evolving to deliver new services including salary and profit-sharing calculation simulators, as well as online training and education to businesses. Sicoss Group has used SoftLayer infrastructure to enable its customers to launch services in less than 48 hours through SoftLayer’s virtual storage and dedicated Cloud servers. Sicoss Group also relies on IBM Cloud for its enterprise class security, and backup and its experience in IBM’s IT services. With the new cloud-based payroll and HR processing model, Sicoss Group is able to improve agility for companies of all sizes and help its customers to remain compliant more easily and efficiently.

As data becomes the next great natural resource, enterprises are looking for the means to efficiently store and mine their data, while protecting its privacy and security. Through advanced, secure and flexible hybrid cloud solutions, they have the ability to more quickly integrate existing and new services and data to drive new innovations and more easily control, manage and secure data and business applications.


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