RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Companies need a holistic strategy that embraces the new hybrid Cloud Continuum, spanning public cloud, private cloud and edge computing.
  • In most cases, public cloud alone isn’t enough. So the question isn’t whether to go hybrid, it’s how to successfully manage the transition.
  • To go hybrid, you need the right strategy, operating model, talent, and tools—plus the transformation roadmap to get there.
  • By nature, hybrid architectures are complex. Businesses that keep them as simple as possible, while planning for innovation, stay secure and agile.


When one size no longer fits all

Not too long ago, the public cloud seemed like the perfect solution for new business needs. The trouble is, the needs never stopped changing.

Public cloud options—where the services and infrastructure are available to anyone on demand through a third party—offer a quick, efficient way to shift to the cloud without costly investment. But they have their challenges, including issues with data security and privacy, not to mention the technical limitations of what is often a one-size-fits-all approach.

Today, the cloud is evolving. It’s becoming a dynamic continuum of capabilities: Private options are booming, hardware manufacturers are launching public-like offerings and edge computing is set to grow exponentially over the next five years. The cloud is no longer a single, static destination. It’s the operating model of the future.

As a result, more companies are turning to a hybrid approach. In fact, experts say 90% of organizations will soon opt for these multi-cloud architectures to avoid over-reliance on a single public-cloud provider.

89%

Percent of companies following a multi-cloud strategy with at least two Hyperscalers as strategic partners.[1]

80%

Percent of organizations utilizing hybrid cloud models (public and private).[2]

It’s the way of the future, but it won’t be easy. In this Cloud Continuum, complexity is inevitable—especially when it comes to hybrid architectures.

Organizations face countless questions when they embark on this transition: What’s the right operating model? How will you integrate and manage different technology platforms? Where can you find the right talent? How much will it cost?

In a hybrid world, these questions need to be addressed holistically. This is partly because the scope of cloud is expanding rapidly. Before, it was a case of discrete islands: each company had a data center and a cloud environment.

Now, cloud is a continuum that offers numerous new opportunities across an increasingly distributed IT landscape. Many organizations use a centralized cloud, a data center, campus areas, plus some data and compute resources at the edge. It’s a spectrum of environments which, once integrated, add to a truly hybrid experience.

What does all of this mean for enterprises? It boils down to two key realizations:

  • For most organizations, hybrid architectures are the only viable option for the future. They satisfy diverse business demands while unlocking innovation.
  • Companies need a holistic strategy that spans public cloud, private cloud and edge computing for a hybrid solution.

Turning ideas into action

It sounds complicated, but it doesn't have to be. Here are five steps companies can take to define infrastructure strategy, meet business needs and clear a path to the hybrid cloud future.

1. Choose your ‘landing zones’

To ensure that your cloud strategy aligns with business goals, we start with your “landing zones,” or client-specific configurations within a cloud that can serve different purposes (like license cost of a database or usability for developers). To define these landing zones, we look at your needs and constraints, including legacy apps, industry standards and regulatory requirements. Then we set forth a strategy that’s as simple as possible, so that it can be easily adapted as your business needs (and tech) evolve.

2. Optimize your hybrid architecture

Next, we define your hybrid architecture by connecting those landing zones from various sources—public cloud providers, private cloud data centers, co-located data centers and edge computing zones—across three levels:

Technology

Develop an integration layer across all landing zones.

Processes

Align and integrate processes, from start to finish.

People

Tap existing skills in your team or train them so they can engineer, operate and optimize as needed.

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An experienced partner can speed this effort with a library of hybrid cloud blueprints. For example, Accenture has a vast collection of architectures, technical designs and automation/configuration scripts that can jumpstart the process of mapping workloads to landing zones.

3. Create a Continuum Control Plane

You’ve identified your landing zones and planned the right architecture. Now, you need a way to manage your hybrid multi-cloud experience. Each environment comes with its own set of tools, but trying to use them all at once makes it hard to control cost and performance. Instead, consider a Continuum Control Plane that can manage a full set of landing zones and more across multiple private and public cloud providers. It allows developers and operators to automate common tasks and workflows, at scale, at any location, by bringing together new processes and tools. It also helps organizations grow a culture of agility and continuous innovation while meeting their need for operational and financial stability.

4. Draw the right roadmap

Next up? Deciding how to organize the migration to the optimized landing zones. In some cases, you’ll need to move in multiple phases over the long-term to maintain business continuity; in others, you’ll want to move applications in groups—say, if a process spans three applications. It may be more cost-effective to rethink some business processes, rather than customize a solution to fit them. Along the way, consider the operating model. How can you configure and integrate security into the development process and transition? Do you have the people (and skills) you need? How will you build full-stack management teams? These are just some of the questions to consider.

5. Remember: Innovation never ends

Your business doesn’t stand still. Neither should your IT. Once companies have reached their target state, they can keep harnessing innovations from multiple private- and public-cloud providers. This means re-engineering infrastructure to adapt to new goals and technologies. A “target state” isn’t defined by a technology stack—it’s in the resilience of your processes and the adaptiveness of your people to continuously evolve within the Cloud Continuum. With a Continuum Control Plane you build a solid foundation for this evolution, without having to start from scratch every time a new cloud service comes along.

The hybrid path forward

More and more organizations are recognizing that hybrid architectures are the right option to meet their diverse business needs today and tomorrow. So, the question becomes not whether to use a hybrid architecture, but how to consciously build and successfully manage one.

By nature, hybrid architectures are complex. It’s vital to keep them as simple as possible, and plan how to manage complexity rather than neglecting it exists. This will keep the business secure, lean and agile.

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Michael Heyen

Managing Director – Global Practice Lead Hybrid Cloud

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