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Hybrid cloud is the new normal: Forrester

Why you need to do a cloud cleanup, stop trying to go it alone and start using cloud to drive your business — not just enable it.

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It’s been 10 years since Eric Schmidt inadvertently coined a brand-new technology term.

In 2006, when he was still Google’s CEO (he’s now its chairman), Schmidt tried to explain an emerging area of computing.

“We call it cloud computing,” he said during a search engine conference, describing a model where data and architecture “should be on a cloud somewhere.”

Whether or not you give Schmidt credit for bringing the term ‘cloud’ into widespread use (yep, that debate is still raging), we can all agree that it’s been about a decade or so since the cloud revolution really got into full swing.

What have we learned since then? Quite a lot, judging by a report from Forrester Research. It surveyed 3,592 business and technology decision-makers in 10 countries (including Canada) about how they use cloud and where they see it going in the future.

Cloud cleanup

It’s a bit of a mess out there.

“Unfortunately, the ease of deployment and pay-as-you-go pricing of cloud has left many I&O (infrastructure and operations) pros with a tangled web to unweave,” Forrester’s study concludes.

One large construction firm surveyed by Forrester unearthed more than 20 versions of the same SaaS app lurking within its infrastructure. Other surveyed companies turned up hundreds of unsanctioned cloud apps after doing network scans.

So Forrester recommends a cloud cleanup. Hunt down unapproved apps in your organization, then take an inventory of the ones you sanctioned to find out how you’re actually using them. Encourage business units to partner with IT on any cloud usage by making your approvals process simple, clear and fast.

“If you give (them) what they need, with low friction, you will gain their trust,” Forrester suggests.

Reach out

It takes a village, apparently, to raise a cloud. If you thought you could go cloud-first alone, think again. Forrester believes organizations can’t extract full value from cloud unless they actively seek partners on various levels.

For example, Forrester states that “hybrid (cloud) is the new normal,” with an “intermixing (of) in-house resources and data with externally hosted resources and data” required for true cloud success.

Forrester adds that no organization can go solo when it comes to cloud talent, either. The supply of skilled, specialized cloud talent (particularly as Internet of Things adoption ramps up) is so tight that most enterprises must find partners who can provide that expertise through contractors or temporary staff.

Same story with services like cloud integration and orchestration. As both become increasingly complicated, Forrester says it’s often better to partner with a third party than work it all out in-house.

New cloud reality

Who knew Forrester could talk tough? It bluntly warns readers of its report that “your business is under threat.”

“Cloud economies,” the study continues, “mean that your competition can come from outside your industry just as frequently as outside your industry.” In other words, major banks probably never saw Square and Apple Pay coming.

“To avoid jeopardizing your brand,” Forrester says, “you must operate like a cloud provider.”

How? Use cloud to drive your business rather than just enable it. Figure out how you can use cloud to connect your organization with customers, suppliers and partners. Look for ways to strategically collect, analyze and share valuable data (internal and external) among those stakeholders in nearly real time.

How can you cut costs by doing this? Can you somehow create brand-new revenue streams from that cloud-based data?

No one knew enough to ask Eric Schmidt — or anyone else — these questions in 2006. They’re certainly worth exploring at your organization now, though.

Photo courtesy of Free Digital Photos

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