The benefits of hybrid cloud have been clear for some time.
Along with the cost efficiency of moving certain workloads to the cloud, hybrid environments allow organizations the flexibility to maintain and better secure data on-premise or scale out as needed.
In many ways, the hybrid cloud has become the norm.
IDC predicts that more than 80 percent of enterprise IT organizations will commit to hybrid cloud architectures by 2017. But getting real value from hybrid environments isn’t necessarily easy. In fact, many organizations struggle with a deliberate hybrid strategy and with managing their growing IT sprawl.
To accelerate enterprise hybrid cloud adoption, IBM and VMware, Inc. today announced a strategic partnership designed to help enterprises take better advantage of cloud’s speed and economics. The new agreement will enable enterprise customers to easily extend their existing workloads, as they are, from their on-premises software-defined data center to the cloud.
Because getting hybrid cloud right can lead to great payoffs. A new IBM Center for Applied Insights study, “Growing up Hybrid: Accelerating Digital Transformation,” reveals that among those that have embraced hybrid environments, leading organizations report greater competitive advantage and ROI.
Not only are these leaders deliberate about choosing a hybrid blend, but they also use hybrid cloud to power digital transformation — spurring digital business goals and kick-starting next-generation initiatives such as the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced analytics and cognitive computing.
Driving more efficiency and productivity benefits
Even at the most basic level, companies that are strategic and deliberate about hybrid adoption manage to get more value from their investments.
The study found that 85 percent of hybrid leaders are reporting cost reductions, achieved by shifting some fixed costs to variable costs. And 82 percent of leaders say they’re also improving productivity.
While these benefits aren’t surprising, the additional value enjoyed by leading organizations when compared with other adopters is remarkable.
Moving up the digital value chain for business growth
Above and beyond the productivity gains, what’s new is the focus on hybrid cloud as an enabler of digital change, by enabling product and service innovation and the ability to expand into new markets and serve new customer segments.
These findings demonstrate that hybrid cloud is also key for developers to accelerate development and to seamlessly access data resources and composable APIs.
With entire industries shifting their focus to digital services, hybrid cloud has emerged as a differentiator: leading companies are four times more likely than the lagging segment to use hybrid cloud for digital services.
Enabling disruption with emerging technologies
But the biggest factor separating leaders from the pack is their use of hybrid cloud to enable forward-looking initiatives. According to Gartner, 40 percent of organizations expect the IoT to transform their business or offer significant new revenue or cost-saving opportunities.
Cognitive computing, or the use of adaptive learning systems to glean insights and augment business decisions, is another key technology underpinned by hybrid cloud, with as many as five times as many leaders using hybrid to jump start cognitive efforts.
While many organizations already use hybrid cloud, not all enjoy the full extent of its benefits. Companies don’t always start with a comprehensive strategy, which is a critical requirement to getting the best business outcomes from hybrid adoption. The use of advanced hybrid cloud management technologies — from automation to predictive analytics to open technologies and high security — are also essential to their success.
Previously published on Forbes, February 22, 2016.