As businesses continue to navigate their way through murky waters in 2021, many are looking to evolve their technology habits. According to Flexera's 2020 survey, over half of polled organizations expect to increase their public cloud usage beyond what they had planned because of their Covid-19 crisis experience. Gartner's findings further support the prediction; they suggest that worldwide IT spending is likely to grow 4% to $3.8 trillion in 2021, with "accelerated penetration of cloud" expected through 2022.
However, getting better business continuity, performance and efficiency will take more than just shifting workloads – an organisation needs to put the right workloads in the right environment. Last year, many IT teams could not access local data centres, so their only option was to shift workloads to the public cloud. It has become clear that this solution may not be the catch-all-workloads solution many had hoped it would be. So what's the alternative?
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Stephen Gilderdale is Senior Director & Head of Presales Architects UK at Dell Technologies
Cloud? Data centers? Edge?
Many IT teams coped with the changing realities of 2020 by simply switching to software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms that make it possible to outsource the application's management. While this may have worked for some workloads, many applications require extensive re-platforming to take advantage of public cloud capabilities, which takes precious time to accomplish.
Additionally, delivering secure access and managing service levels with a new remote workforce has been challenging for many IT staff. Individual employee internet connectivity, limited visibility and access to data centers are just a few of the issue’s businesses have struggled to overcome.
Many developers prefer public cloud platforms as they enable frictionless provisioning of infrastructure resources and serve as a good solution for in-development applications where the resource capacity is unknown. However, public cloud is a one-size-fits-all solution that does not fit the needs of all workloads. As such, organizations will always need to run workloads in an environment that best meets the requirements and business needs – be that is a data center, private cloud, public cloud, or at the edge.
For many, the edge environment can feel like an additional layer of complexity best avoided. However, computing at the edge shouldn't be a separate, discrete solution. Edge enables businesses to leverage the experience of deploying to private and public cloud environments. It reduces the complexity of managing data and application services, all by building capabilities not on-site or in the cloud, but at the intersection of physical and digital domains.
Change for productivity
Research by Enterprise Strategy Group found that the majority (89%) of organizations still view on-premises as important. Many of the applications developed in the public cloud wind up being deployed in production environments running in on-premises IT environments. However, there are many good reasons workloads should be deployed locally – including better performance, security, and compliance requirements.
One example of this is the University of Pisa, which accelerated its infrastructure modernisation efforts in the face of changing remote learning and research demands. The University embraced IT's hybrid future by advancing its data storage appliance (which encapsulates cloud and edge infrastructures), allowing the institution to store scientific computing applications for genomics, biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering. This move supported critical medical and biological research, even throughout the shift to remote working. By simplifying the movement of applications and data between its four data centers spread across the city, the university provided 53,000 students with immediate access to the essential information they needed.
As sectors and businesses continue to adapt and prepare for the post-pandemic environment, many more institutions are likely to take steps towards a hybrid future - one we hope to see more institutions in the UK adopt as well.
The future of IT is hybrid
As we move towards a post-pandemic environment, many industries are looking to embrace hybrid digitalization through data centers, clouds or edge computing, reaching for that utopia of speed of scale, management and mobility and ensuring security and privacy. As remote working approaches go from 'do it quick' to 'do it right', enterprises will come to realise that to place the right workloads in the right environment, the future of enterprise computing has to be hybrid.
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