Businesses are making the shift to a cloud... but is that enough? Hybrid ways are the best way to go about it. Image Credit: Supplied

Building a cloud journey has become a top priority for businesses to help them adopt innovative technologies, revolutionize business models, and subsequently impact the bottom-line.

However, challenges like management, security, and governance of data and workloads distributed on multiple clouds have become significant barriers in defining a robust and cohesive cloud journey. A hybrid cloud can resolve most of these challenges…

The hybrid model allows businesses to manage multiple clouds explicitly designated to meet current and incremental requirements, data, and workloads in a secured and governed manner, backed by a flexible architecture.

Such a landscape may include the combination of one or more on-premise infrastructures, internally managed or outsourced private clouds, public clouds from multiple providers, and even infrastructure for legacy and most modern IoT and Edge systems—all running simultaneously to fuel the digitization needs of the enterprise across functions.

In banking, for example, instantaneously processing millions of transactions and delivering a perfect customer experience throughout the journey is pivotal. However, securing the customer's data at every step is essential for banks to maintain trust and integrity.

A hybrid approach helps banks define modern architectures to cater to security, governance, speed, ease of management on-demand with agility in a business-strategy-first model.

In an IBM study conducted by IDC in Middle East, Turkey and Africa, 85 per cent said they are pursuing or looking to pursue a hybrid cloud strategy in their organization. More than 55 per cent suggested the key reason to adopt a hybrid cloud was flexibility and significant cost savings.

Let’s explore some of the other tangible benefits.

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Simplify movement between clouds

Enterprise workload and capability requirements, cost implications, security or regulatory pressures, an infrastructure lift-and-shift risk exposure, and other factors can influence the need for a sudden full or partial cloud-to-cloud migration. Mission-critical workloads span extensive IT estates that include traditional data centres and clouds in different locations, each with unique government and regulatory requirements.

In parallel, the immense focus on artificial intelligence has mandated businesses to collect, aggregate, and analyze data for building actionable insights to innovate business models at scale. On average, a business today draws data from over 400 sources to build advanced analytics for decision-making.

As the volume of data grows, the maintenance implications and underlying cost grows too, and can often slow down the entire transformation.

Build once, deploy anywhere

Building a hybrid approach can offer greater flexibility to tackle these obstacles by providing an open, faster, and more secure way to move core business applications to any cloud flexibly. With hybrid solutions, organizations easily move and deploy containerized workloads consistently on any infrastructure.

This can also reduce expected downtime from weeks to hours. Beyond migration, such solutions also help with automation capabilities, improve employee productivity, and deliver better end-to-end customer journeys while reducing the burden of governing content and processes.

At Telecom Egypt, we implemented a hybrid cloud solution, infusing AI for more flexibility and scalability of operations. They can now manage and automate their networks, while identifying, isolating and resolving problems before they impact operations. All of which is powered by real-time, historical analytics.

This will also enable new digital services with ease.

Openness and security

Not relying on a single vendor increases the flexibility of choosing the right cloud for your business requirements – without fitting needs to vendor’s specifications. A hybrid approach also lets you meet certain local or industry-specific regulatory requirements by separating workloads or data into locations as needed but running your systems in a centralized fashion.

Our work with appsNmobile Solutions in Ghana has seen the collaboration create a fast, stable infrastructure that builds in security for payment transactions in a challenging environment.

Today’s organizations want choice, and they can have it by choosing the appropriate cloud for each of their requirements. They seek open innovation - minus vendor lock-in - and the ability to build once and deploy anywhere.

Choosing a hybrid cloud that provides the agility, security, mobility, integration, and cost efficiencies will play a key role in driving business success in the post-pandemic era.

- Mostafa Zafer is Vice-President at IBM Data & AI, Automation and Security, Middle East and Africa.