Four Key Trends to Watch Out in a Hybrid Enterprise

by September 11, 2015 0 comments

–  Paul Coates, Vice President, India, Riverbed Technology

It’s quite likely that over the past several years, you have heard non-stop how cloud computing is changing the nature of business – or indeed everything depending on what or who you read. We live in an era where the globally-connected workforce has become cliché, where the remote employee is expected to work around the clock, to use online collaborative platforms that are meant to make once-unimaginable processes run like clockwork, and where data is more important than a “gut-feeling.” The truth is that the cloud has brought many great things, but this revolution has also brought with it a tough reality: technical complexities based on technology promises are as big a challenge to business leaders as business model reinvention.
Today, most people expect cloud-like experiences when not all enterprises can or will offer every application or business function in the cloud. This makes the enterprise “hybrid”, incorporating a mix of data center and cloud-hosted apps and data, and networks comprised of private (hosted), public (Internet) and cloud infrastructure. This kind of IT environment is only becoming more relevant in India, where interest in cloud is high, but the approach by Enterprises tends to be more cautious.
The benefits of this hybrid model are significant: agility/time to market, cost saving and flexibility to name a few; but so are the challenges: complexity of multiple clouds, networks, services providers and SLAs, and hundreds of applications that need to be managed and delivered across a mix of networks. The Enterprises that not only manage this complexity – but leverage it to make their applications perform at their peak – will gain competitive adantage in the new hybrid world.

Let’s take a look at the four key trends and issues shaping hybrid IT today:
Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS): With the rise of cloud computing, mobile technology and businesses transforming their operations to become digital, many organisations are embracing an everything-as-a-service approach. Consumerization of IT and BYOD are the driving force towards adoption of XaaS. In India, these trends will be further fueled by The Government’s visionary blueprint, Digital India, which promises to put the power of technology in to the hands of even more of its citizens. XaaS isn’t just hip – it gives agility and simplicity along with an efficient “pay-as-you-go” pricing model. The benefits to the business are significant and include greater flexibility and scalability, higher levels of innovation through technology, faster response to market developments to take advantage of new technologies, and a significantly improved ability to predict budget expenditure and reduce the need for extensive up-front capital.
Hybrid Networks: Gartner states that “Hybrid will be the new normal for next generation enterprise WAN.” With the cost of an MPLS circuit being three to five times the cost of a direct Internet link, enterprises have transitioned to using public links to transport non business-critical traffic flowing between branches or between a data center and a branch. This is easier said than done. With the average enterprise using thousands of applications, it can be daunting to manage each application, let alone understand the End-user Experience for the critical ones. At Riverbed, one of the ways we’re helping organizations mange this is by providing a simple but elegant UI that categorizes all active applications based on business-intent policies and provides tools to ‘Path Select.’ This allows you to leverage the OpEx advantages of hybrid networks while still maintaining control over the distributed architecture.
Remote Branches and Workers Are Everywhere: Having employees anywhere allows enterprises to hire from a larger talent pool by eliminating geographical restrictions. It makes little sense to hire top talent, however, and not enable them to go direct to the Internet or cloud – just like enabling someone on the LAN. This new way of working will require a new set of tools – for example, features that enable the highest levels of download speeds and responsiveness for Office 365, no matter where the mailbox or the user are located; and optimization capabilities for workers on the move, wherever they may be. The potential impact? Pulling up a database when sitting next to a customer at their manufacturing plant in a remote location – 60x faster than before while using 99% less bandwidth.
Security: All of these trends add up to increased security needs. Security failures like the recent breach of the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) commercial arm, Antrix, are now common. Network teams need to put all measures in place to ensure full data protection while still meeting performance goals – and that job has become harder than ever thanks to the growing complexities of the hybrid network. Investing in detection and response is a starting point. If you can’t see it, you can’t protect it. No-compromise visibility across your applications, networks, and devices is the first critical step toward improving overall security postures. Establishing a baseline of what’s “normal” helps to better isolate actual threats and respond accordingly. Collapsing all data from branches and remote users back into the datacenter also offers an immediate improvement in your security posture and enables the focus of limited security resources to fewer locations.
At the end of the day, most CEOs and CFOs might not know or care about the hybrid enterprise until it causes them pain. But losing money due to website downtime, lost productivity, data loss, hidden costs or inefficiency – these are all things management cares about so understanding the challenges of the hybrid enterprise means understanding your business and where it can run smoother.
Technology, thoughtfully applied, can provide solutions to the complexity of this new hybrid world. CIOs need to ensure they’re partnering with vendors on their “journey to the cloud” that not only have kept pace with these trends, but are able to deliver ever-greater visibility and insight into the business of the future.

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