Gartner to CIOs: get ready for cloud-powered ‘hybrid IT’

6 Mar 2012

Technology’s role in business is changing into ‘hybrid IT’, fuelled by cloud computing, and Gartner says the change affects both underlying IT architectures in an organisation and the role of IT itself.

The analyst firm defines hybrid IT as “the result of combining internal and external services, usually from a combination of internal and public clouds, in support of a business outcome”. Hybrid IT relies on new technologies to connect clouds, sophisticated approaches to data classification and identity, and service-oriented architecture.

Chris Howard, managing vice-president at Gartner, said many organisations have now passed the definitional stage of cloud computing and are testing cloud architectures inside and outside the organisation. “Over time, the cloud will simply become one of the ways that we ‘do’ computing, and workloads will move around in hybrid internal/external IT environments,” he said.

“IT leaders and IT architects in organisations should care about cloud because it is becoming an increasing viable option for them to have to outsource their IT resources and their IT services,” said Gartner analyst Drue Reeves in a video presentation.

He suggested a division of data whereby organisations host less critical applications in the public cloud, while more important apps could be delivered via a private cloud.

“But they should also look at it with a keen eye to make sure that they are choosing the right provider and putting the right application to put in the public cloud, and protecting it appropriately,” he said.

Cloud computing challenges

There are several challenges to cloud computing, such as risk assessment and management, security, price and return on investment, liability and terms and conditions, added Reeves.

CIOs and IT managers who take their eye off the ball are also in danger of being bypassed as other business functions go directly to the cloud to get the resources they need.

“The risk of not paying attention to the cloud is that IT organisations will find that their internal customers who are looking for IT agility and for quick provisioning will go around them and use public cloud and put digital assets of the company into the public cloud and therefore take more risks than they should,” said Reeves.

Gartner advises IT groups to become the broker between the internal private cloud and the external public cloud. That way, IT positions itself as the intermediary between all of the options, and has control over deciding which data goes in either one.

The firm has created a hub site for tech professionals, gathering all of its research on hybrid IT under four banners: infrastructure; users, applications and data; security, risk management and identity; and professional effectiveness.

The latter category in particular is well worth a look, as it addresses the often unspoken element of cloud computing: namely, what implications it has for people working in IT roles, and how they will need – or be forced to – adapt in order to keep their skills current and remain in demand.

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic