Unfortunately, this is far from the case. 70 percent of digital transformations fail, according to McKinsey, and Gartner say that just 8 percent of Australian enterprises are getting results from their digital transformation activities.
Our approaches to digital transformation, often consisting of throwing large amounts of expensive ‘out-of-the-box’ SaaS technology at the problem and hoping for the best, aren’t working and it’s an indicative trend.
More broadly, I believe businesses are reaching a tipping point with cloud-only models, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the server sprawl debate at the turn of the 2010s. This was a moment in time when we collectively realised that there was unsustainable server sprawl and, once organisations became aware that they sometimes had more servers than employees, a consolidation process began.
Buyer beware: cloud-only is not the answer
The coming of age of cloud technology and the rush to adopt it has clearly had many benefits, however the view that a 100% cloud model is the right one needs closer examining.
Firstly, server sprawl is back, as now anyone with a credit card can create one, and shadow IT has taken off with the majority of SaaS applications purchased without the IT departments involvement. Whilst this mightn’t be an issue on the face of it, there are inherent risks (and costs) that arise from having an ever-growing IT environment, and it significantly adds to the second issue: how do you integrate it all together and ensure that it’s secure and performing optimally?
Cloud platforms seem like an easy answer to this question, so businesses have been moving workloads from on-premise to the cloud, taking a ‘lift and shift’ approach that’s seen some things move and left others either on-premise or hosted privately. Having your workloads spread like this is what’s known as a ‘Hybrid IT’ model.
The hap-hazard arrival of most businesses to a ‘Hybrid IT’ model – as many were never planned holistically in advance – has caused some issues. The cause of this is largely to do with the fact that some legacy applications, networks and infrastructure won’t necessarily operate well, or work together, in a Hybrid IT model without interference, monitoring, and/or modification.
As a result of these difficulties, many businesses have made the decision to now pursue ‘cloud-only’ models rather than spending time tuning a Hybrid IT approach - a move that, for most organisations, I believe, is a costly mistake.
The reason for this is that, in adopting cloud and SaaS technologies, you’re losing control, reducing the ability to customise, taking on risks, and committing to large amounts of ongoing spend that’s only going to grow.
2020 represents a prime opportunity for businesses to properly analyse Hybrid IT models and Hybrid Networks, taking steps to maximise performance, reduce operating costs, and come up with stable, long-term IT environments that will enable your businesses to thrive.
Why hybrid models will better serve businesses
Running Hybrid IT models enables businesses to combine different technologies and solutions as though they’re in the cloud, balancing security, cost and performance needs.
Adopting a long-term Hybrid IT model retains focus on existing investments, compliance, security, and performance. Here’s why:
- Having more control: Only in October of this year, an attack on AWS brought down half the World Wide Web, an Microsoft Azure Active Directory outage left millions of people unable to access their applications, and Google suffered its Little ‘Chubby’ outage after a DDOS attack. Overreliance on any public cloud platform leaves your organisation exposed to outages and demonstrates that, should they become your centralised repositories of data and knowledge, you also need robust back-up and disaster recovery plans in place.
- Better contingencies for disaster recovery: In order to effectively mitigate risk with data back-up, there needs to be a certain level of accountability and visibility with who’s responsible for the data, where it sits, and how it is re-couped in an emergency scenario. Even though data loss in Australian organisations was up 78 percent in 2018, only one-third of Australian organisations have teams and capabilities to respond to cyber security incidents, according to BDO and AustCERT. In relation to the current SaaS sprawl epidemic in Australia, company data lies across hundreds of companies across potentially thousands of servers globally. In the case of failure or widespread attack, backing up SaaS platform data centrally through a hybrid model can significantly aid in the disaster recovery process.
- Avoiding unnecessary sprawl: With a Hybrid IT model, greater control is given to the organisation about whether they need public or private cloud, or a combination of both, as well as flexibility in application transition. This operates differently from the scope-creep often found with SaaS-heavy and public IaaS models.
In light of this, Hybrid IT models are often the better solutions, because they diversify your options when it comes to: buying software (and how it’s subsequently updated), where your data is hosted, and understanding how your data is backed up. It supports different workloads with the benefits of maximising existing investments, cost-savings, increased flexibility, and added security.
As we begin to prioritise IT expenditure and structure for 2020, business leaders should feel empowered to act on the current state of play and not be bullied down the easy route of adopting a cloud-only strategy.
Despite the promises, a cloud-only model doesn’t mean that your services will always be available, your data is protected, or that it’s the most efficient way of operating. Take action now to recalibrate your IT environment and put yourself back in the driver’s seat with a planned, thought-out Hybrid IT model.