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Hybrid cloud services gain momentum as cloud market flourishes

CIOs recognize potential to reduce complexity and improve flexibility through hybrid cloud deployments.

The need to use cloud computing technologies in the workplace is growing throughout the enterprise landscape. This is largely due to the proliferation of big data initiatives, which is encouraging decision-makers to launch more sophisticated management and analytic endeavors, as well as the ongoing requirement to replace old phone systems with better communication platforms. Because the cloud landscape is so diverse, however, decision-makers are taking different approaches and, as a result, experiencing varying outcomes.

The simple truth is that no two companies are the same. Whether organizations differ in their view on the customer landscape, have alternative long-term objectives or require the use of more refined business phone systems, the underlying fact is that every CIO has his or her own opinion on which cloud route is the most applicable to their organization. The sheer volume of these irregular perspectives is one of the main reasons why hybrid cloud technologies are gaining so much momentum in the corporate environment.

Although some enterprises see off-site public clouds as the most relevant offerings available, other decision-makers appreciate on-site private cloud environments or even legacy premise-based solutions. For this reason, businesses often embrace a hybrid cloud strategy, which combines on-site and off-site technologies into a single overarching approach. This was highlighted in a recent SAP study conducted by Wakefield Research, which found that most CIOs believe hybrid cloud strategies reduce complexity and improve flexibility.

Why go hybrid?

While the cloud often promises organizations the ability to improve operations, reduce costs and take advantage of a more efficient service delivery model, there are still some inhibitors preventing mainstream adoption of the hosted services. These obstacles, along with others, are encouraging firms to take advantage of a hybrid cloud strategy that utilizes on-premise and off-site technologies in a single, unified environment.

Still, a large portion of businesses recognize the potential in the cloud, whether they want to use a hosted PBX solution, off-site storage or some other cloud service. The study found that 87 percent of CIOs believe that cloud solutions are important to the long-term success of their business. At the same time, 83 percent of decision-makers said premise-based tools are critical to operations, suggesting that a merging of the two environments is likely, if not inevitable.

In fact, 67 percent of survey respondents have already adopted hybrid technologies, with 75 percent of those organizations claiming IT operations are less complex after the deployment.

"The allure of the cloud means many organizations are adopting cloud-based applications that augment on-premises [enterprise resource planning] and are increasingly moving core elements of ERP to the cloud. CIOs and ERP leaders need to be prepared with an integration strategy that anticipates this world of hybrid ERP," said Nigel Rayner, an analyst at research firm Gartner.

If enterprise executives decide that a hybrid cloud strategy is appropriate, the next step is building a blueprint.

Understanding cloud projects

While the cloud often promises to deliver a unique suite of benefits to organizations that intend to use it, decision-makers need to understand their specific desires before jumping headfirst into the hosted market. In other words, companies that wish to leverage a cloud VoIP system may have different demands and needs from those that solely want to use cloud storage solutions. By understanding their personal intention with the cloud, IT directors can find the solutions that align with these objectives to keep costs and performance issues to a minimum.

Nevertheless, the trend to use multiple cloud services is gaining momentum, largely because enterprises executives either can't make up their minds or recognize the potential in using both on- and off-premise technologies. A recent Neovise survey of more than 800 IT professionals highlighted this occurrence, noting that more than half of respondents are already using public or private clouds, while many of these organizations are using public, private or hybrid solutions simultaneously.

"It is great to see from this research how broadly enterprises are adopting clouds today. Cloud users expect to be able to choose hybrid combinations of cloud: public, private, virtual private and hybrid clouds. Businesses also want enterprise-class cloud services that deliver assured performance and high reliability that production applications demand," said Simon Aspinall, chief marketing officer at Virtustream.

Businesses around the world will continue to use cloud services for a variety of purposes in the coming years, especially as decision-makers recognize the potential benefits associated with integrating various solutions together into a seamlessly connected infrastructure. By taking this hybrid approach, not only can companies keep costs down, but they can also use the various cloud environments for different purposes. In other words, organizations can host communication services in the cloud and keep more sensitive processes on-site to reduce potential challenges.