Everyone loves hybrid models. Who doesn't want the best of both worlds? IT organizations everywhere crave "a little bit of this and a little bit of that" approach to spread their risk. They want to keep control over infrastructure, business critical apps, data and processes that help preserve IP or enable a competitive edge while partnering with service providers to manage the everyday and mundane. Cloud is no different. Businesses tend to be naturally cautious about sensitive customer and business data. They prefer to host it within their control to make it more secure. Control is reassuring. Besides, it isn't always simple to move legacy applications to cloud environments, so IT managers often decide to maintain them in a dedicated, private environment. On the other hand, a public cloud service may be used to manage processes that are not sensitive or have unpredictable growth spurts. So, what does an IT organization do? How does it balance privacy and security with growth and cost compulsions? It opts for a hybrid model.
Hybrid cloud is an effective model. The unstated upside is that hybrid cloud models ensure the outsourced provider innovates around services.
The impact of hybrid models on outsourcing
A hybrid approach is becoming essential for many businesses. But a mix of internal and external cloud flavors brings with it more pressure on coordinated service and management provisioning. This is because as the cloud mix is constantly recast, the way services talk to each other must also change. For CIOs, this is a pain, but is increasingly becoming a necessity. There are two key questions that need to be answered. First, how is outsourcing impacted in a hybrid cloud environment? And second, how can service levels be assured in an ever-changing hybrid environment?
A hybrid cloud model makes a shift from a focus on self-serviced dynamic provisioning and hosting to unparalleled service management. But the upside is that hybrid cloud models force outsourced service providers to innovate around their services.
What is the key implication? Assume that an application in a public cloud must access data in a private environment. This could mean IT outsourcing may have to include on-site code installation, maintenance and in some instances even code development. This is just one example, but the impact on the outsourcing partner can be much broader to include:
- Workload assessments
- Automation to enable workloads to the cloud
- Licensing issues
- Ensuring a higher degree of service standardization
- Service guarantees
- Demonstrated business knowledge and industry expertise
These demands have the effect of forcing vendors to develop new capabilities and innovate around their models and services while still maintaining the cost and scale benefits for the customer.
The problems suggest that before an organization decides to leverage a hybrid cloud model, there may be wisdom in including the outsourcing partner in making the decisions on what stays in a private, secure cloud and what is migrated to a multi-tenanted public cloud. Naturally, consulting and solution development become key to success.
Hybrid models result in innovation benefits
A hybrid model brings interdependencies and operational complexity, which is driving change in IT outsourcing for cloud. This is also why organizations that are looking for outsourcing partners must focus on the following when deciding on a partner:
- Does the outsourcing partner have adequate insights to share? This will assist the organization in creating the right balance between private and public cloud services and in planning and re-engineering processes around it.
- Does the outsourcing partner have the ability to deliver traditional infrastructure services and manage the demand for migrating to cloud? Organizations considering a hybrid model will run a mix of traditional infrastructure, private and public cloud and will not be able to decide what data to store where or which applications to run where yet must make the entire dynamic system work.
The bottom line is that IT outsourcing providers will need to innovate to ensure that services, regardless of which part of the cloud eco-system they populate and interact with, continue to perform. Is it time that your organization considers leveraging the best of both worlds?
About the Author: Ben Trowbridge is an accomplished Outsourcing Consultant with extensive experience in outsourcing and managed services. As a former EY Partner and CEO of Alsbridge, he built successful practices in Transformational Outsourcing, BPO, IT Outsourcing, and Cybersecurity Managed Services. Throughout his career, Ben has advised a broad range of clients on outsourcing and global business services strategy and transactions. As the current CEO of the Outsourcing Center, he provides valuable insights and guidance to buyers and managed services executives. Contact him at [email protected].