This article was first published in the Winter 2014 issue of OnWindows
According to Avanade’s 2014 Global Study: Hybrid Cloud – From Hype to Reality, today more than three-quarters of C-level leaders believe hybrid cloud will give them a competitive advantage and allow them to focus on core growth opportunities. What’s more, 69% believe that it should be one of the biggest areas of focus for their company in 2015. The trouble is, many don’t know what hybrid cloud really is, or how to deploy it.
“While people view cloud as strategic and hybrid cloud as next wave, the enterprises that we talked to for our survey don’t fully understand what hybrid cloud is yet and they don’t necessarily have the skills or tools to bring it alive,” explains Mick Slattery, Avanade EVP, Hybrid Cloud business. “That’s because it’s new. Customers haven’t taken their organisations to the cloud, so there’s some lack of knowledge and uncertainty. There’s a bit of a fear factor too, especially around security. So even though businesses realise that cloud needs to become a priority, it’s surprising how many don’t yet have a plan or strategy in place for it.”
To make it easier for businesses to deploy cloud services across their organisations, in December 2014, Accenture, Avanade and Microsoft unveiled a jointly funded and developed hybrid cloud platform.
The Accenture Hybrid Cloud Solution for Microsoft Azure integrates and builds on key capabilities from the three companies to help enterprises deliver ‘everything as a service’. This includes bringing together the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, as well as Windows Server with Hyper-V, System Center and Azure Pack, which are designed to run in customer data centres; the Accenture Cloud Platform for managing the cloud environment end to end; plus professional services and expertise from
Accenture and Avanade to assist with deployments.
Explaining the rationale behind the solution offering, Slattery, says that the aim is to help businesses understand how they can use the cloud as a strategic weapon. “It is not only about giving enterprises the tools and the technology to seamlessly manage the private and public cloud environment, and unlock a new set of use cases, applications and ways of responding to digital business needs, but it’s also about putting services around that solution to help enterprises take advantage of its full potential,” he says.
The key to this is enabling businesses to easily manage both private and public cloud workloads from one place.
“I use the analogy of a single pane of glass,” says Slattery. “How can I see the workloads that I’ve got on both my public and private cloud using a common set of tools so that I can make decisions about which workloads I want where? Customers want to be able to manage and govern those workloads and then automatically manage the distribution and movement of them.”
Once they have these capabilities in place, companies can then develop applications to truly leverage cloud-native capabilities. “If we can enable businesses to build applications that extend what they‘ve got into the cloud, leveraging new cloud services such as internet of things and data analytics, then we can help them accelerate how they respond to their business needs,” says Slattery.
Freeport-McMoRan, an international natural resource company, is already piloting the Accenture Hybrid Cloud Solution for Microsoft Azure to prototype a new industrial internet of things platform to improve its mining operations. Its aim is to enable operations supervisors to analyse and react to near real-time situations in the mine, allowing them to take immediate action on items that impact mine production, which ultimately drives revenue.
“As our business makes the transformation to digital mining, we are looking to capture the benefits of hybrid cloud and engaged Accenture and Microsoft to explore how we can accelerate our journey,” said Bertrand Odinet, VP and CIO at the company, in a press release.
Avanade is also working with a large industrial products company, which is interested in delivering IT as a consumable service in order to increase agility and meet customer requirements. Through this project, Avanade is helping the enterprise to migrate, operate and govern applications across public and private cloud environments.
Slattery believes that deployments such as this will become more commonplace in the coming months and years as businesses understand more and more about the potential of hybrid cloud and learn how to deploy it in their own organisations.
“We’re seeing growing interest from organisations that want the management capabilities required to move workloads to cloud environments and consolidate existing infrastructure investments,” he says. “We’re also seeing interest in new, cloud-enabled application models. When we look back in three years’ time, what we’re going to see is a whole new set of applications that have evolved because enterprises were able to leverage the power of both public and private cloud.”