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Unlocking the 'better normal' with hybrid cloud services

Kalyan Kumar breaks down why companies looking toward their digital transformation journey should consider a hybrid cloud approach, minimizing business disruption.

As countries reopen, uncertainties loom large without any insights into how the pandemic might play out. The current situation has made us experience the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) world in its truest sense. Organizations, at the moment, are looking at stably navigating through this new normal, and creating a differentiated digital foundation in the longer run that would help them steer through all future disruptions and stay relevant in the highly competitive ecosystem. It is important that they are able to create agility, scalability and resilience in their technology landscapes without the fear of inhibitors such as lock-in, cost and complexity to name a few.

Data and applications are certainly the secret weapons for an organization that allow it to create a differentiated construct, vis-a-vis its peers in the industry. Both data and applications are critical to any organization's success. But at the same time, they should be supported by a responsive and robust underlying infrastructure that is able to withstand unprecedented loads. A hybrid cloud approach helps organizations achieve rapid scale while adapting to continuously evolving business models, withstanding disruptions and creating digital value across multiple cloud platforms and on-premises infrastructure.

Importance of building resilient and adaptive platforms

A business continuity survey from Gartner highlighted that only 12% of organizations are highly prepared for the impact of coronavirus. With a majority of the workforce working remotely and customers increasingly accessing services online, organizations need to ensure stability of critical workloads that support core business operations. Such workloads need to be hosted on infrastructure that can be dynamically scaled up or down to cater to demand uncertainties and be resilient enough to withstand disasters and disruptions.

Moreover, the complexity of new-age platforms has been amplified with the advent of empowered edge that involves movement of applications and associated services closer to the end-user devices and also with the emergence of distributed cloud, wherein hyperscalers provide public cloud services at locations beyond their physical data centers. The perimeter of these platforms is ever expanding and thus, effectively employing a hybrid cloud strategy has become increasingly important to ensure that enterprises are able to reap the benefits of on-premises existence, cloud and edge locations, and to effectively utilize cloud native services provided by hyperscalers.

Withstand current and future disruptions

As a result of the pandemic, many organizations are migrating more and more services to the cloud. However, this is contributing to an increase in the stress, on the already stretched cloud budget. Putting control on cost structures is a fundamental aspect of an optimal hybrid cloud strategy. Organizations need to look at outcome-based consumption models that are aligned to business goals. Also, there are flexible commercial constructs in place that allow organizations to consume on-premises infrastructure in a pay-as-you-go model.

Automation is another key component that not only aids in building and operating platforms at scale with minimum human intervention, but also plays a pivotal role in rapid disaster recovery to ensure continuity of mission critical operations across environments with a near-zero data loss. A fundamental aspect to build systems of the future is the infusion of AI-led automation and move toward hyperautomation across the hybrid cloud landscape that would help to manage costs, mitigate risks and increase efficiency. Hyperautomation builds real-time operational intelligence that augments human intervention across the digital value chain -- from business process to underlying digital foundation -- leading to AI-driven decision-making.

Also, a key challenge facing the organizations adopting cloud is to find and hire the right talent because of the acute shortage of skilled resources. The current situation has increased the pace of cloud adoption and further aggravated this problem of getting the right talent on board. Organizations must ensure that they have access to the right mix of experts on demand to help build, manage and optimize on-premises and cloud deployments.

All these measures can be put in place to enable seamless adoption of a progressive hybrid cloud strategy that is robust in nature, and ensure that enterprises are not short of resources, be it capital liquidity or availability of experts, as they battle disruptions and build a platform that is inherently responsive, scalable and resilient.

Moving toward the better normal

The scale of uncertainty brought by this pandemic has required businesses to adjust to ecosystem disruptions and changed customer behaviors, and to find new pathways for sustainable growth and innovation. The boundaries of digitization are being pushed. Be it cosmetics giants building immersive experience platforms for augmented reality mirrors to promote contactless shopping, or be it healthcare practitioners using smart helmets to identify COVID-19 symptoms while adhering to social distancing norms, the current scenario has accelerated the pace of adoption of everything digital with cloud as its foundation.

Organizations need to address the immediate and near-term challenges related to customer experience, scalability, cash management and resources and expertise, while building long-term capabilities to accelerate their digital transformation journey so as to differentiate, remain relevant and competitive at all times through secure and adaptive hybrid cloud services. In summary, an organization taking the hybrid cloud route to be digitally mature must consider cost structures that are highly variable, operations that are agile and automated, and services that are available on demand and can be effortlessly ramped up or down on the go as per the constantly evolving landscape.

About the author

Kalyan Kumar B. is Corp VP & CTO of IT Services at HCL Technologies. As the CTO, he is actively involved in Product & Technology Strategy, Strategic Partner Ecosystem, Start-up & Exploration incubation and also supports the inorganic initiatives for the company. Kumar has Line Responsibility as the Global Practice/SBU leader for Digital Foundation (Infra & Platform Modernization, Hybrid Cloud, Digital Workplace, Enterprise Networking & Telco Cloud, Integrated IT Ops) & the DRYiCE.AI Software Division. Kumar also is the executive sponsor and oversees the strategic Partner Ecosystem Business Units at HCL. He is a member of the WSJ CIO Network, CNBC Technology Executive Council, Fellow of British Computer Society and also part of WEF Global Future Council 2020 & 2021 for Quantum Computing. He also serves on the Board of Directors in two start-ups and a midsize Technology Company in Hybrid Data/Analytics domain.

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