Hybrid IT delivers performance, flexibility and efficiency 

A range of business and technology trends mean the IT environment in modern organisations will be diverse. Whereas standardised platforms such as ERP have dominated IT in recent years, the future is likely to be very different. To discuss the diversity and likelihood of a hybrid IT environment being the responsibility of the CIO, Microsoft joined this CIO round table.

CIOs from leading pharmaceutical manufactures, the energy sector, business process services, telecommunications, IT and engineering gathered to discuss and share their experiences.

In the energy sector the CIO was already developing and adopting a hybrid IT environment to extract deployment speed and lower costs for her organisation, in the business process services industry the CIO there said he is already seeing a greater shift towards the private cloud due to its security, legislative and business benefits over public cloud, yet with a lower cost that owning your own IT environment. One of our two pharmaceutical industry CIOs was challenging her organisation to understand that the view that cloud is less secure than their own operations is "madness", her pharmaceutical peer has already adopted Microsoft 365, which he described as a major step forward for a risk averse organisation and sector. This CIO was looking to push the organisation to go further into the hybrid IT environment now that it had seen success with Office 365.

From the telecommunications sector the CIO was looking at the challenge of instant delivery to demanding internal customers and how that changes the dynamic of the IT operation within his organisation.

Cliff Evans of Microsoft furthered the debate by discussing that organisations he has worked with have had considerable success in moving the enterprise IT model away from chargeback to show back.  Many CIOs at the dinner said chargeback just increased the belief that IT is a cost centre to the business.

Evans described how organisations are unaware of their consumption habits when it comes to technology and that organisations that go through a show back scenario are then able to grasp and adopt the benefits of hybrid IT.

The consensus on the table was that when it comes to datacentre usage, storage and peak demands a show back scenario would help them educate the organisation as to its behaviour. This would then enable CIOs to not only modernise their IT environment, but also get involved in culture change.

Again there was widespread agreement that many organisations are not ready for internal billing, but they do need to "know what's really happening" with compute and storage.

CIOs from pharmaceuticals and the energy sector added that all too often what the organisation sees is the "underlying" cost of the IT infrastructure and people, but if the organisation was shown usage patterns it may have a better understanding of the total costs of technology provision.  

No discussion involving cloud computing, as the hybrid IT model includes, can pass without the thorny issue of security arising. The CIOs present all expressed concerns that as hybrid and cloud IT become more prevalent, a business issue that concerns them is that a cyber attack could have a greater impact on the entire business, rather than just one business process being put out of order. All agreed that significant cloud providers like Microsoft are probably more secure than individual businesses, but the opportunity to damage the entire business network is a real concern.

This in-turn led the discussion towards a debate on the state of networks and their performance across the country. Many agreed that the existing infrastructure is coping at present, but they are concerned that as they and their peers adopt hybrid IT the infrastructure will not cope. Microsoft described how it is developing code that can react to the performance of the network the application is being run on, which gained a great deal of interest.

CIOs from engineering and the pharmaceutical sector challenged the Microsoft attendees on the issue of application licences and compatibility.  CIOs keen to move to Office 365 are concerned that there will be complications should they change hosting or network services, while the compatibility of hybrid systems with document management platforms was also of concern.

A hybrid IT environment will exist, was the overall conclusion of the evening's debate with the CIO presiding over a technology environment rich in multi-culturalism as hybrid IT allows users greater individual choice. The future challenge will be managing that environment effectively for the right business outcomes.

By Matthew Stibbe
Microsoft UK Enterprise TEam