U.S. business productivity has been trending up lately, according to recent government figures. Some of that has to do with the labor force working longer hours and upticks in requests. However, another factor that directly contributes to business productivity is efficiency, brought about by leaner organizational processes and better management.
One way enterprise is achieving efficiency is by leveraging the benefits of hybrid cloud solutions and migrating certain key elements of their IT infrastructure off-premises.
Some analysts predict that in order to improve overall performance, businesses will adopt some form of cloud-based model as the default option by 2020. Here are six ways a hybrid cloud architecture can contribute to enhanced business efficiency in your organization.
Increased Uptime and Availability of Information
Hybrid cloud users benefit from the orchestration between different computing platforms, i.e., private, on-premises, and third-party.
This mix of deployment across different cloud instances enables enterprises with transaction-heavy workloads to maintain uptime during demand spikes by expanding workloads to a public cloud, for example.
By leveraging processes such as cloud bursting, enterprises can better manage resources and uptime during peaks, such as holiday sales periods, when demand for services and transaction processing is at its highest.
Ensuring maximum uptime for computing resources enables businesses to have better access to information, and operate with better overall productivity and efficiency. One recent study reported IT downtime cost enterprise approximately $700 billion per year.
Further, cloud uptime and downtime stats for the most popular cloud providers can be monitored using services like Cloudharmony, which reports availability and downtime metrics for up to a 30-day window.
Reduced Size of Customer Managed Data Centers
There was a time when the bigger your data center was, the better—not just because almost all infrastructure and applications were managed on-site, but because IT managers wanted it that way to accommodate changing business conditions that required different delivery models, depending on expected outcomes.
That’s all largely changing now because many businesses have migrated applications and services to hybrid cloud models. Off-loading some applications can be cost-effective because there is no one-size-fits-all solution and some applications are best delivered off-site due to better security and compliance suitability.
Still, even though data center footprints are shrinking, they remain important to businesses because they likely will store the most confidential customer data—even when a hybrid cloud model exists. Regulatory and compliance parameters, like those covering the healthcare industry, dictate that using off-site storage servers is contrary to good business practice.
Improved Data Mobility
There are many reasons why businesses turn to hybrid cloud providers to improve data mobility. One is that it essentially frees the organization from infrastructure constraints.
Today’s business models are changing. Users are increasingly mobile, and remote offices and manufacturing locations are highly dispersed. That means data mobility needs to be from edge to core—from mobile devices to the cloud, as well as to and from remote sites.
The benefit to enterprises is time savings to adapt to customer demands, manufacturing changes, and improved time-to-market performance. Deploying a hybrid cloud solution eliminates siloed data environments, improves application access, and improves overall business agility, as well.
In the decade since Amazon’s Elastic Compute cloud model was launched, businesses have flocked to the cloud because of the promise of low startup costs, faster innovation, and better agility.
The idea was that costs were to be generally predictable from one fiscal period to another. However, sometimes that is not the case. Unexpected cost overruns entered the mix, prompting IT managers to find solutions to the issue.
One way to solve the challenge is to use self-service tools to manage costs across public and private cloud environments. Capabilities include:
- Ability to adjust spending limits based on project and/or capacity usage
- Dashboard management to view periodic budgeting and other financial analytics
- API-driven SaaS platform based on services allowing users to add existing cloud infrastructure for app dev use
- Ability to tag resources with reporting capabilities upon provisioning
- Self-service infrastructure geared to developer environment
The key is that cloud management can be more cost-effective if developers are empowered to use tools to control costs.
Better Disaster Recovery
Regardless of whether a disaster happens because of a failed piece of hardware in the data center or some other source, you have to have a plan to replace it and get back up and running. If you are in the financial industry, as opposed to, say, the educational vertical, time is literally money. The more downtime you experience, the more catastrophic the financial and operational losses will be.
A good disaster recovery plan still takes plenty of forethought and best practice processes, but having a data center in the cloud means you just have to bring up a new instance in order to get back up and running. In the cloud, you can also move certain processes to infrastructure located in different regions much faster.
Heightened Security and Increased Operational Agility
One of the biggest concerns businesses have about moving to a hybrid cloud solution provider is security. There is still the perception that the cloud is less secure than an on-premises data center.
The truth is that, whereas an on-premises data center may be accessible to multiple staff members and visitors, some of whom have access credentials they don’t need, cloud data centers are highly restricted to authorized personnel only.
Because cloud data centers are not configured like office buildings, with different areas for different functions such as marketing, accounting, IT, etc., they can be hardened against natural disasters and electrical failures.
In addition, redundant backup systems beyond the typical on-premises data center exist so functions can be shifted to other locations around the world when necessary—further providing increased operational agility.
A hybrid cloud model is not the perfect solution for every organization, depending on its need for operational agility, security, and compliance. However, the benefits in efficiency far outweigh the negatives.
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