Guest Column | April 25, 2022

To Hybrid Cloud, Or Not To Hybrid Cloud?

By Marvin Sharp, Aptum


Accelerated digital transformation has pushed organizations to adopt new IT infrastructures more rapidly than expected over the past two years. According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, two years of digital transformation took place over two months, while a McKinsey study ranks it even higher at five years in the first quarter of 2020.

Regardless of the exact speed, cloud technologies have become a mainstay in overall IT strategy. Public cloud spending is expected to increase by 21.7% in 2022, according to Gartner. Public cloud appeals to business and IT leaders given its flexibility, scalability, and access to third-party resources and expertise.

As cloud computing continues to evolve, organizations are leaning heavily on hybrid and multi-cloud approaches to managing their applications and workloads. A recent study revealed that 86% of organizations adopted hybrid or multi-cloud strategies due to their many benefits, but a closer look shows they still face challenges.

Cloud Deployments Meet Business Needs

Respondents to the 2022 Cloud Impact Study – Part I – which polled more than 400 IT leaders across the U.S., UK, and Canada – showed that 90% of organizations feel the cloud has helped increase efficiency, and 91% see the cloud as a crucial tool for data management. Additional findings from the survey show the cloud positively impacting innovation (71%), operational efficiency (71%), workforce mobility management (63%), IT expenditure (63%), and customer experience (63%).

As businesses transitioned their IT strategies in recent years, hybrid emerged as a dominant approach given its flexibility for teams to mix and shift workloads to the cloud as needed. Operating in a hybrid cloud model allows teams to leverage workloads in the cloud alongside data centers, keeping workloads where they need to be at a given time. This model also offers increased technical control, allowing businesses more architectural flexibility, better ability to meet compliance requirements, and access to additional security options to keep assets protected.

However, while hybrid cloud offers many organizational benefits, there’s often a lack of expertise and skills needed to manage applications between the cloud and legacy technology. Having operations split across a hybrid environment, increases security challenges and reduces visibility into cloud infrastructure. Integrating cloud and legacy applications is a concern for 44% of the Cloud Impact Study’s respondents, with seven out of 10 saying they wanted to increase cloud adoption but do not have the required internal expertise.

Cloud Boomerang

The integration challenges companies have, along with a few other factors, are giving way to a shift of some workloads back to the data center. Companies cited data backup (26%), ERP (25%), line of business applications (25%), websites (25%), and CRM (24%) as application workloads they plan to move back to legacy technology, despite the benefits of the cloud.

Outside of the integration skills gap, development and operations deficiencies and security concerns are prompting this cloud boomerang effect. Priorities differ among the development and operations teams – development is focused on delivering new applications within the cloud, while operations manage administration. Once an application has moved out of development, administration duties often shift back to operations teams, who are unfamiliar with cloud architecture and will revert to legacy technology.

Security remains a top priority for all in IT, with the rise in cyberattacks in recent years. Public cloud security can be difficult for some teams to handle, especially when there is a lack of understanding around the shared responsibility model. And as cited earlier, when hybrid models are deployed, security and visibility become more complex. When managing a hybrid cloud environment, organizations must adjust their security infrastructure accordingly and learn to use cloud-native security tools.

Moving Forward With Cloud Strategy In Mind

The concerns organizations have about cloud technology are understandable, but also manageable if they have the right strategy in place. Only 20% of survey respondents stated they had a planned, holistic cloud strategy before implementation. Much of the move to the cloud was driven by reactionary measures at the start of the pandemic, as opposed to a well-planned and executed strategy.

Understanding their users, data, and applications is key to creating an effective cloud strategy. With this knowledge, organizations can determine the type of infrastructure that works best for their needs. This strategy should support business goals and outcomes, while also outlining potential risks.

Like with cloud integration management, companies may not have the skills available to develop this kind of strategy. But that doesn’t mean they have to eliminate their cloud investments and move back to the data center completely. Sourcing a trusted managed service provider can help put organizations on the right path to complete their digital transformation and get the maximum benefits of the cloud.      

About The Author

Marvin Sharp is VP of Product and Strategy at Aptum, where is responsible for the growth and success of Aptum’s product strategy and development. From planning to solutioning and implementation, his team ensures Aptum can help customers solve their business challenges and drive outcomes that matter, for both today and tomorrow.

With over 20 years of experience in Product, Finance, and Transformation, Marvin understands the importance and impact of a customer’s digital transformation toward the cloud. It is this customer-journey lens that drives his focus on delivering results.

Prior to Aptum, Marvin ran his own company specializing in Advanced Analytics, spent over a decade with Bell Canada in M&A, Finance, and Product, and before that he worked at KPMG and Capgemini supporting organizations through transformation initiatives.

Marvin has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Ontario and an MBA from Simon Fraser University.