Read more about Hyper-hybrid Cloud
John Seely Brown
Deloitte LLP Center for the Edge
Many CIOs are rightfully wrestling with the technical realities of growing cloud adoption. Security. Integration. Distributed data management. Workflow and orchestration. Now that the hybrid model of cloud services has become common, those issues are compounded with multi-cloud and cloud-to-cloud complexities. But beyond the IT stack there is a challenge on which many organizations haven’t yet focused: what does it mean to rethink my business as a collection of services? Business services that can be consumed internally or externally, independently orchestrated, provided in-house, via an external cloud - or most likely a hybrid of both. Tackle this question head-on to get results in a hyper-hybrid world.
Cloud is about services. So, the first step in exploiting the power of cloud involves “services thinking.” That’s about defining operating models, business processes and technology components as services – within and beyond the enterprise. And it demands that companies develop a disciplined set of control points for an emerging services grid - control points with policies in place that flow up and down the stack. Unfortunately, getting a clear handle on the policy layer is often more easily said than done. Policies are often embedded across multiple layers of enterprise software, making them difficult to see, let alone orchestrate. It takes focus and resources to dig them out and make them fully explicit.
When there is a clear vision for a services grid, with progress defining and deploying business control points, then integration, workflow and the services grid itself can reach outside a single enterprise. In fact, the disruptive potential may be most significant in more dynamic expressions of the business across hyper-hybrid cloud services, and contingent workflow planning should be brought into the fabric of the architecture, shared between parties. In short, the outside-in mentality1.
Go past cloud point solutions. Don’t assume cloud automatically results in an effective services-oriented (business) architecture. And keep in mind that it’s nearly impossible to execute a coherent cloud strategy without addressing social, mobile, big data and visualization. These are coupled as long-term socioeconomic, global factors increasing pressures on firms in an environment of constant, and disruptive, change – the focus of our Big Shift and annual Shift Index research2. In my view, you should look at how these trends are converging from the outside in to appreciate the enormous potential – and challenge – ahead of us.
Whether your organization will shift to cloud services is unlikely to remain an open question. The question now becomes how that shift is likely to happen. Will your approach add complexity to your technology environment – or will it bring elegance and simplicity? The choice is yours.
Where do you start?
IT investment should start with clear business objectives, a well-defined business case and outcomes that can be measured and evaluated. This is equally important for cloud services. Deliberate considerations were true for standalone cloud tests and rapid innovation pilots, and become even more crucial as the scale, scope and cardinality of cloud services grow. Specific tactics may differ based on your current level of cloud maturity. For many companies, CRM, sales, HR, payroll and collaboration are among the first functions to move to a cloud. These are obvious points of entry for organizations that want to introduce changes that will feel familiar to many in their workforce.
- Cloud greenfield. Organizations in the early stages of their cloud computing strategy should first determine if cloud services models are well-suited for their business problems and technical environments. The following five attributes (derived from the NIST definition3) should be assessed. If all five are relevant, cloud is a potential fit.
- Predictable pricing: Subscriber incurs a charge only when consuming resources, based on subscription and usage, not on perpetual licensing or allocation
- Ubiquitous network access: The service is available wherever and whenever the network is available – enterprise network for private cloud, Internet for public cloud
- Resource pooling and location independence: Multi-tenant, with shared resources that the subscriber cannot explicitly partition or specify
- Self-service: Users can directly access the service, provisioning is on-demand, and services are readied in near-real-time
- Elasticity of supply: Ability to scale up or down to meet resource demands, with seemingly limitless upper bounds
- From cloud to clouds. Organizations that already have sizable cloud footprints should evaluate how well these solutions are meeting the original business intentions and business cases. Further integrating non-performing cloud services can only increase technology dependencies and complicate future migration strategies. Consider creating shared platforms for identity, access, data correlation and business rules – separating these crucial policy services from specific cloud-based functions or traditional on-premise integration hubs. Consider cloud-based integration platform-as-a-service solutions to complement enterprise integration layers or service buses. These platforms can manage the interactions between in-house enterprise apps and associated cloud services. Forward-looking organizations can initiate conversations with early-stage cloud service brokers, helping to drive the emerging market around cloud endpoint orchestration, aggregation, remediation and billing.
Today, hyper-hybrid clouds are an advanced form of cloud services in the early stages of adoption, but the approach is rapidly becoming the norm for cloud services architecture. All types of organizations are trending towards hyper-hybrid clouds. Start-ups have a cloud-first mentality, since spending is prioritized towards market-facing products and services, rather than capital-intensive data centers, infrastructures and on-premise licensed software. In fact, these organizations are setting the standard for the hyper-hybrid environment, using it to guide both new operating structures and IT delivery models. Larger enterprises are seeing cloud services extend and enhance their ERP and large legacy system investments. Core in-house systems can form the foundation upon which emerging technologies can be deployed, without sacrificing business compliance and controls. Organizations that can bridge hyper-hybrid clouds with their core systems will be at the forefront to elevate business performance with the next wave of digital innovation.
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1 Additional information is available in Deloitte Consulting LLP (2012), "Tech Trends 2012: Elevate IT for digital business", www.deloitte.com/us/techtrends2012, Chapter 10.
2 Additional information is available in Deloitte Consulting LLP (2011), "The 2011 Shift Index: Measuring the forces of long-term change", http://www.deloitte.com/assets/Dcom-UnitedStates/Local Assets/Documents/us_tmt_2011shiftindex_111011.pdf
3 Peter Mell and Tim Grance, The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing, http://www.nist.gov/itl/cloud/upload/cloud-def-v15.pdf (October 7, 2009).