There’s a new term floating around the halls and conference rooms of today’s IT departments. The term, hybrid IT, describes a new approach to how IT supports the business, but what exactly is hybrid IT and how does it fit into ongoing storage discussions?
Hybrid IT offers the best of two worlds: traditional IT infrastructure combined with today’s software-defined, virtualized environments. Hybrid offers a combination of IT components (servers, storage, and networking) in agile, flexible, cloud-ready, and datacenter-friendly configurations. It enables flexibility in deploying on-premises and cloud solutions that best match the needs of the business, and the hybrid model can be tailored to fit the dynamic workloads that IT environments face in this evolving world.
With hybrid, the resources within your infrastructure are available to those who need it, when they need it, thus accelerating the time to deliver new apps and services to customers. It brings a whole new level of flexibility that the old model of traditional IT couldn’t support.
In today’s fast-paced digital economy, hybrid IT enables organizations to transform ideas into business value in a flash, if you’ll excuse the pun (storage is, of course, a big part of the hybrid environment, and a lot of it is moving to flash!). Time-to-value is one of the key factors in the concept behind hybrid IT. Gartner says just 15% of companies have adopted a hybrid strategy so far, but the technology will go mainstream over the next five years.
Delivering new applications faster
Hybrid promises to change how IT is delivered in the 21st century. Flexibility will enable on-demand infrastructures to deliver new business applications and capacity faster while simplifying the overall infrastructure management of IT services. Infrastructure becomes a profit center, not a cost center. To achieve this, data centers are starting to move away from environments populated with isolated silos and lots of sprawl to high-velocity converged environments that are much more agile and bring together compute and storage in a flexible manner.
For instance, a hybrid cloud services company in the Pacific Northwest has transformed its datacenter to a hybrid model to better serve its customers, which range from small businesses with demands for only one server paired with storage, to large enterprises that need hundreds of servers and vast amounts of storage. Every customer wants a flexible infrastructure, which is why the hybrid IT model works so well for this cloud service company. The company can tailor services to meet each customer’s fluctuating workload needs. Some customers don’t need speed but do need a lot of capacity while others need super-fast storage but not so much space. It’s similar to how utility companies operate, dialing their usage up and down as demand fluctuates.
Idea to app in minutes, not months
Hybrid infrastructures let IT departments slash the time required to bring an idea online from months to minutes. Hybrid IT can even reduce costs by allowing datacenters to repurpose servers with software-defined options to create shared storage pools. It can also cut deployment times with hyper converged solutions that combine compute and storage into one box.
What are some of the benefits for customers who go to a hybrid IT infrastructure? Well, think about what you could accomplish if you could deploy resources at your command in a model flexible enough to satisfy the full spectrum of cost and performance requirements.
Consider how a Hollywood studio relies on hybrid IT to edit films in the production process. When editors develop the movie, they take bits and pieces of the daily production and assemble it piece by piece at various editing studios often thousands of miles away. A delay of seconds, in transferring the data isn’t that critical in the overall process. Here, the need is for capacity. However, when the studio streams a rough-cut of the film to be viewed by various teams, it can’t afford even a single pause. Now performance is critical. This is where hybrid infrastructures play a key role. Studios build their IT architectures to enable flexibility and choice across the performance and capacity vectors, utilizing traditional, virtualized, and/or cloud infrastructures.
Hollywood’s editing booths are not alone in constantly trying to keep up with the evolving digital economy. IT departments are being challenged to provide higher levels of service and the higher levels of resiliency that we now expect from workhorses such as web apps and traditional applications. Hybrid to the rescue! It can do all this and more.
What to consider when starting your hybrid IT journey
So where does this journey to a hybrid architecture begin? Well, first start by asking some important questions to identify the outcomes you want to achieve with hybrid IT:
- Complexity: What would you like to simplify? Do you lack common management, require specific knowledge or skills at different sites, or simply have a diverse set of components that don’t necessarily perform at the pace your business demands?
- Cost: What are your cost constraints? Do you need to start small and scale as the business grows?
- Flexibility: Do you need to build an infrastructure that changes based on unpredictable demands? Are you looking for common components to mix and match?
- Growth: What are both the unknown and known growth predictions that you need to prepare for?
There are a variety of paths you can take in building-out your hybrid infrastructure, but the best part is that you can match it to fit your unique datacenter needs based on the above consideration. For example, you may need to have dedicated SLA-centered storage to meet your core application needs. Alternately, you can repurpose or refresh your servers with software-defined storage for added flexibility and shared capacity to maximize your budget. Or if you have limited IT resources and need to quickly deploy storage and compute, a hyper converged solution is your datacenter-in-a-box that brings rapid time-to-value.
These days, businesses require an infrastructure that maximizes performance and flexibility but stays within budget. Now that hybrid IT is building momentum, ideas are accelerating into reality faster than we have seen in the past. As a result, the rate of innovation is faster than before. Once just part of the overhead, IT can now be a value creator. We’re going to see organizations take proactive measures to convert, knowing that if they succeed, they’ll disrupt the marketplace and move to the front of the pack. It’s going to be an exciting time for those who make the transformation and limiting for those who don’t.
Want to know more about some of the technologies behind hybrid IT? You can watch the video interview with Calvin Zito, HPE Storage blogger and Neeraj Gokhale about hybrid IT here. And you can download or save a podcast on the subject by going here. You can click here to learn more about the benefits of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) software-defined storage solutions and here to learn more about the benefits of HPE hyper-converged.
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