Organizations are eager to capitalize on the promise of hybrid cloud, but there are a number of challenges, including integration, security and technical debt. In this Q&A, Jim Miller, vice president and chief technology officer for cloud and platform services at DXC Technology, details those challenges and offers best practices for overcoming them.
Q: Why has the hybrid cloud presented a serious roadblock for organizations attempting to modernize IT at scale?
A: The integration of the traditional environment and cloud or digital environments has proven to be very challenging. For many CIOs and enterprises, those environments today are stovepiped and not integrated. Enterprises are not getting the value they need out of them until the integration occurs — and that integration can be difficult.
One challenge is the data architecture as compute is distributed across on-premises and cloud environments. A lot of the data stores have been in place for many years, and re-architecting them has proven difficult.
Another issue is that many organizations lack an API strategy. They’ve done point-to-point integration over the years, but that doesn’t work very well when you integrate traditional and cloud environments. Having that API strategy can be a link to opening up the data and processing, and to speeding up the integration.
Yet another challenge is the complexity that comes from the various locations of your users, data centers and cloud providers. You need to glue all that together with a network fabric that makes it work to achieve the business results you need.
Q: How about cloud security? Is that still perceived as a risk, even in today’s hybrid cloud environments?
A: Yes, security tends to be a perceived risk. There have been many advances in that area in the cloud environment, as well as in integrated hybrid environments. Yet many CIOs are not aware of how those perceived risks can be addressed. For example, the risk of things just taking too long — dragging on and tying up resources in an IT modernization at scale — prevents them from using those resources for other critical business functions.
Q: Is technical debt an issue for organizations looking to move to the hybrid cloud?
A: Yes, and it’s across the board. Unless you’re a modern startup that was born in the cloud, you probably have a significant amount of technical debt. Many enterprises have environments that are no longer supported. These environments have operated for years and have critical systems and data in them.
Yet any attempts to modernize them can be risky, because many of the people who built those environments are no longer around. So finding people who know those technologies can be challenging. For example, there are enterprise environments that still run Windows 2008, and even Windows 2003 on servers, and Windows 7 on PCs.
Q: What are some best practices for starting the transition to hybrid cloud?
A: One would be identifying what can move to cloud, and also why it should move to cloud. The why is important because just moving something to cloud doesn’t automatically provide you with the digital foundation you need. You need to build a path not only for what and how, but why you want to move to cloud.
Once you’ve got the journey defined, and some of the whys defined, you can build the tasks that help you get there. Those can include public cloud, private cloud, applications modernization — which can take different flavors — and also data management and data architecture.
For example, we worked with a large, multinational financial institution that had a large application portfolio and high support costs. It would take them many months to build new environments to release new functions to their end users. We helped them build a foundation that included both private and public cloud environments, and then put in a DevSecOps environment so they could release new features and functions faster and with higher quality. The end result: We moved more than 150 apps to a cloud environment. They went from weeks to provision IT resources down to days. And they went from releasing functionality only several times a year to doing it very quickly, sometimes even weekly.
To learn more, read the white paper, Use IT modernization to accelerate and scale business transformation.