Hybrid IT: it's a must for keeping pace with the competition

Today's business environment is intensely competitive
Today's business environment is intensely competitive

The accelerating pace of the global economy has created a business environment of intensely competitive markets.

Real-time IT, coming about from efficient and flexible IT infrastructure, is in great demand. From coping with new business initiatives, spin-offs and mergers and acquisitions (M&A), there are no shortages of situations that demand IT excellence.

Understanding how the modern business landscape can drive IT evolution, and what we can do to bridge this technology gap, is key.

Keeping up with retail buyers

Customers are undoubtedly the main driver for IT innovation and creativity. Walmart, for example, has recognised the importance of mobile as a channel for website traffic and customer shopping. Mobile now accounts for more than 40% of total website traffic during the Christmas season.

Adding a shopping list function to its mobile phone app to guide customers to find the products they're searching for capitalises on this mobile shopping trend. Customers who downloaded the app made more trips to the store and tend to spend up to 40% more once there.

Walmart is also currently working on its next big tech product – an intuitive mobile shopping list that automatically compiles itself and appears whenever the shopper opens the mobile app. This clearly demonstrates the speed of innovation in the modern business world, and how customer needs and demands can set in motion huge advances.

Handling IT separation or consolidation anxiety

Spin-offs and joint venture deals can set in motion changing IT needs. IT restructuring during spin-offs usually requires a combination of migrated and completely new systems, along with the removal of the departing division's IT system. The challenge arises when trying to keep up the business pace while only getting a skeleton IT crew from the parent company.

Finding the 'neutral zone' between the systems of the acquired company and its buyer during the initial stages of a merger and acquisition is also another challenge, along with the ultimate requirement to consolidate the two companies' IT infrastructures. In many cases, neither companies' infrastructure is robust enough to take on the integrated whole.

In these instances, many challenges can be overcome with hosted colocation services, where a company outsources IT needs to a provider offering a dynamic mix of environments. This results in far superior capabilities to match unique business needs.

Facilitating startup growth

No company's business changes as fast as the successful startup. What the company needs on day one will be vastly different to what's needed in year one, or year six for that matter. Getting stuck in long-term contracts with fixed costs tied to fixed expectations can be problematic when changing needs arise.

One example of a startup that managed to overcome this challenge is Procserve. An eProcurement marketplace, Procserve was originally established to serve the 50,000 agencies of the UK government and launched with a single working server colocated in a data centre.

But over the eight years since, the company has added managed and cloud services. Leveraging the scale and SLAs of an experienced managed services provider has enabled Procserve to "appear as a more mature business to its customers," according to Jesper Lynge Petersen, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer.

Coping with 'bumpy' growth

Company growth is not always uniform and requires a degree of scalability and flexibility that traditional IT operations are simply unable to support. New customer behaviours, re-envisioned markets and unexpected competition all require an IT infrastructure that is dynamic and instantly adaptable to a myriad of business circumstances.

Outsourcing as the answer

The results of recent research point towards increased interest in hybrid approaches to infrastructure requirements, including data centre colocation, managed services, and the cloud.

Within the next five years, 70% of all IT infrastructure will be outsourced, representing a huge shift away from today's on-premise model, according to an independent survey of 550 IT executives from around the globe. A hybrid model will dominate, according to the survey, including a mix of on-premise, colocation, cloud-based, and managed service offerings.

This comes as no surprise, as getting stuck with infrastructure that is not needed, or finding yourself in a position where your infrastructure can't cope with your business needs, is something that all IT professionals want to avoid.

Organisations are waking up to the need to outsource and plug into a service provider's economies of scale. Infrastructure is there when needed to grow a business, but it never becomes a millstone around their necks.

The benefits of a hybrid outsourcing strategy include lower costs, greater reliability and improved security. But if these are the parts, the whole is even greater. Adopting an outsourced hybrid strategy empowers a business to continuously optimise for rapidly evolving new business conditions, without concern for the impact on legacy on-premise IT infrastructure.

  • William Rabie is Cloud Business Director EMEA at CenturyLink