Hybrid cloud is on the rise, but is the IT department's culture standing in the way?

Hybrid cloud projects are on the rise, but focusing on the technology and ignoring the people and process issues isn't a recipe for success.
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

By the end of 2017 nearly half of all organisations will have some hybrid cloud deployments in place according to research from Gartner.

Hybrid clouds — where some resources are managed internally and some are managed by external suppliers — are in roughly the same position within organisations as private clouds were three years ago, the analysts believe.

But while most organisations now will have some form of private cloud computing, Gartner suggests that a number of issues are standing in the way of a faster take-up of private clouds. The issue, according to Gartner vice-president Thomas Bittman, is agility.

Since agility is the key driver to private cloud computing, IT needs to understand where agility could make a difference in current services, according to Bittman. IT needs to understand "what new services would be useful if provided with agility, and work closely with IT's customers to make those determinations", Bittman said.

Organisations that are already well on their way with private cloud projects too often don't consider the technology issues, Bittman believes. Partly this is because some technologies to deliver private cloud are immature, and partly because many companies find that custom work is needed to get products up to scratch.

But much more difficult, according to Gartner, are the transformational adjustments needed to use the technology. "Cloud services require operational processes that are designed for speed and customised for the services offered," Bittman said.

"An ingrained IT culture focused on technical expertise doesn't fit a fully automated, self-service model that requires a service-oriented, team approach."

In other words, IT people being IT people tend to look for technical solutions for what they believe are technical problems, when it today's world what is required more often is a non-technical solution.

"Too often, private cloud projects are started by choosing a technology, but technology itself does not solve the transformational people and process issues," Bittman said. What Gartner suggests as a solution is radical — if not to do away with IT all together to at least find different ways to make IT work better.

"It is much better to focus first on an approach to make transformative changes," Bittman said. "In many cases, that means creating a separate organisation outside of traditional IT processes — at least to incubate these projects — and focusing first on a simple project that has buy-in between IT and IT's customers."

Progress made with private cloud varies enormously, according to Gartner, with most deployments starting small, with limited scope or functionality. "However, as those private cloud portfolios grow the resulting cloud infrastructures will likely be based on the technologies chosen for pilot projects," the analysts said.

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