I meet with many different companies every week. They range from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Primarily, I’m listening to CIOs, VPs of Infrastructure, IT Directors and NW Architects tell me about their challenges. Those challenges normally include securing applications, keeping applications highly available, compliance and regulations, and pressure to reduce costs by reducing infrastructure.

A vast majority of those companies are adopting a Bi-Modal or Hybrid IT strategy. In a nutshell, it’s a combination of putting some applications in the cloud, putting some on dedicated hardware in their own data center or in a colocation facility. There are a variety of reasons for choosing this approach. Here are the most common reasons I hear for adopting a Hybrid IT Strategy.

  • My auditors won’t allow my data to sit in a public cloud. This is primarily true for financial services and insurance companies. These companies have massive amounts of private customer data such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, health records, and other personal information. While an application might work well in the cloud, auditors are concerned about securing that information and being able to pull it back out, if a company wants to change its strategy.
  • “I don’t have the resources to manage all my applications.” I hear this more often in the last couple of years. IT departments are being asked to do more with less. We’re seeing applications such as email and CRM move to the cloud much more often. The reasons are obvious: Cost and resource availability. While email can contain sensitive information at times, most of the data contained in emails is not “private” information in nature. Email has become one of the most mission-critical applications for most companies. The cost of managing that application is better suited for a public cloud in most cases today.
  • “Back-ups over the internet take too long and are too costly”. This is becoming an issue for more companies today. The amount of data collected and stored by each company continues to grow, almost exponentially. Do companies ever delete data? Not very often. We’ll see companies that 23 copies of the same file and have a need to back up each copy. Video and jpeg are increasingly becoming more of a norm in a company’s data strategy. With back-up windows shrinking and amounts of data increasing, how are companies able to back-up all that data? Some companies have designed elaborate network infrastructures to move their data to other locations. Obviously there is a significant ongoing cost investment to do so. Others use tape libraries or less expensive storage to back up their data. Still others are taking advantage of Enterprise Data Back-up companies that are located within the same data center to back-up all their data and then move it off site. With a simple cross-connect, TBs of data can be backed up within minutes. Companies that have a presence in a colocation facility should ask their account executive if this is available. This may also be a reason to select one colocation provider over another. One size does not fit all.
  • “I have an investment in all this infrastructure.” You can’t just toss it aside. Today’s servers, routers, switches, load balancers and firewalls are fairly robust. In the past, much of that infrastructure was replaced after 3 years. Today, that infrastructure can last 5 years or more with mere software or firmware updates. As infrastructure reaches end of life, companies must decide how best to serve up those applications in the next 5 years. Do they simply replace the equipment? Do they push it out to the cloud? Do they look at Software as a Service? What other applications are dependent on the older equipment. A majority of the companies I speak with are in this transitional stage. Some have adopted a transformational approach to their IT strategy. Some use a transactional approach to continue on for another 6 months or a year. Bottom line: Equipment costs money and may outlive its depreciation period, thereby saving companies money with its continued use.
  • “I don’t have a budget for new equipment. I’m trying to move all my applications to the cloud.” I hear people tell me this all the time. On the surface it makes sense. Only pay for the resources you need when you need them. Don’t purchase excess capacity that may sit idle or underutilized. Unfortunately, some applications are not built for traditional public cloud environments. Some companies can migrate 90% of their applications into a cloud or SaaS provider. It’s those other 10% that are not able to make the transition. Some have performance issues in a cloud environment. Some may need significant application development, before they are ready. And as we mentioned earlier, compliance and regulations may prevent companies from putting applications in the cloud.

So let me net this out for you. For most companies, it’s not an either/or strategy. Their transformation strategies are built on a Hybrid IT approach, considering costs, application performance, and compliance. I believe we’ll continue to see the need significantly grow for both on-site infrastructure and cloud infrastructure.

Bob Kramlich, Director, Enterprise Solutions, T5 Data Centers

I can be reached at bkramlich@t5datacenters.com or follow me on Twitter @Kramlich_T5.