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Architecting a hybrid cloud that speeds up innovation

Architecting a hybrid cloud that speeds up innovation

By Brendan Paget, director of portfolio management in the APAC Office of Technology, Red Hat

Asia Pacific holds a wealth of growth opportunities for businesses, with the region contributing to over 60 percent of the global GDP. Since it also houses more than 4 billion unique mobile users, offering mobile applications with a good customer experience will be key to tapping into the region’s economic potential.

Organizations are increasingly making cloud their default deployment choice — with plans for a hybrid/multicloud future — to effectively address customers’ demand for an ongoing stream of compelling new and differentiated services, features, and experiences. Case in point: IDC found that 70 percent of organizations have deployed multicloud environments, and 64 percent of applications in a typical IT portfolio today are based in a cloud environment, whether public or private.

Hybrid cloud can empower organizations to use digital capabilities and technologies to help them be service delivery ready and facilitate business agility. It allows organizations to focus on innovating instead of “keeping the lights on” by providing a consistent environment to build, deploy, and manage applications, regardless of the underlying infrastructure (i.e., on-premise, public or private cloud). 

According to the Red Hat Global Customer Tech Outlook 2019 report, only 30 percent of organizations have a hybrid cloud strategy. For a hybrid cloud to help accelerate innovation, it should not be built as an afterthought. Here are four questions organizations should ask themselves as they develop a hybrid cloud strategy:  

1. Will your hybrid cloud be built on a consistent, flexible, and reliable foundation across your bare-metal, virtual and cloud infrastructure?

Having a solid foundation for hybrid cloud is key to futureproofing the business. With the business environment becoming more volatile and unpredictable, organizations should ensure their hybrid cloud can support applications that address today’s business needs as well as future market and customer demands.

2. Does your hybrid cloud provide multiplatform support?

As organizations increasingly digitalize their business, they may need to adopt new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to enhance their operations and deliver delightful customer experiences. To successfully innovate using those technologies, organizations should ensure that their hybrid cloud allows them to design and build infrastructure and applications based on business needs, regardless of the underlying hardware or cloud architectures. 

An effective hybrid cloud should enable developers to choose from the most recent stable development tools —such as programming languages, databases, and web servers — to build and test their applications. It should also help simplify application development with less setup and configuration by enabling development tools to be installed with a single command, and switch tools easily when necessary. 

3. Is your hybrid cloud designed to support DevOps?

As speed matters in the digital age, organizations should design their hybrid cloud to support DevOps to deliver new applications or services to market faster. With DevOps, developers can work closely with IT operations to accelerate software builds, tests, and releases, without sacrificing reliability. Organizations can achieve this by automating routine operational tasks and including containers as part of their hybrid cloud toolkit. Since containers can offer standardized environments across an application’s lifecycle, they allow organizations to build applications independent of where they will live and can easily move across environments as needed, which helps reduce the time-to-market for new services.

4. Can your hybrid cloud meet your security needs?

As hybrid cloud consists of a mixture of environments, it may add complexity to an organization’s IT environment and widen the attack surface. To overcome those challenges and protect themselves against the ever-changing threats, organizations will need to build security and operationalize it throughout their software delivery pipeline and across their entire IT infrastructure.

Organizations can do so by ensuring their hybrid cloud provides them with insights into and control over their IT environments. Their hybrid cloud should enable them to standardize on repeatable, flexible, scalable, and automated images, patch management, and backup processes. It should also help to quickly detect security vulnerabilities and automatically resolve those issues before they affect the business. Having these capabilities will enable organizations to innovate at speed while minimizing potential business risks.

Unleashing the full potential of hybrid cloud 

Although hybrid cloud can offer the flexibility and business agility required to thrive in the non-static business environment, these benefits can only be reaped if the hybrid cloud is built on a foundation that offers security and operational consistency. To achieve this, some organizations are building their hybrid cloud on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). In fact, a recent study by IDC found that RHEL is most frequently used for enterprise management and production (26 percent) and IT infrastructure (20 percent).

Cathay Pacific is one such organization. By migrating from its legacy infrastructure to a hybrid cloud architecture that is built on RHEL, the Hong Kong airline can now better scale its IT infrastructure to meet evolving application requirements. The new hybrid cloud infrastructure also helped Cathay Pacific to reduce its provisioning times from weeks to under an hour, enabling it to be more responsive to business demands and bring new customer-facing services to market faster.

In sum, capturing new opportunities presented by the Asia Pacific region will require organizations to use hybrid cloud to catalyze innovation instead of simply treating it as a technology stack that helps improve productivity and reduce operational costs. They should, therefore, build their hybrid cloud on a secure and consistent foundation that provides the tools needed to deliver services and workloads faster with less effort, regardless of the application’s footprint. This will enable them to overcome the common hybrid cloud challenges  and sustain business success by using hybrid cloud to support new workloads from AI to IoT to provide customers with differentiated and delightful services.

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