2. Set Your Priorities

No established enterprise has the luxury of redesigning its entire IT infrastructure using a clean slate. Instead, CIOs need to map out a more practical route that shakes off the inertia associated with traditional IT – vendor lock-in, proprietary systems, closed platforms – to enable business innovation at a rapid pace.

Hybrid IT is more than a simple on-premise-vs.-cloud hosting debate – or even a technology debate. It is also different from hybrid cloud, which is a specific deployment model that combines public and private cloud services.

Hybrid IT, in comparison, encompasses cloud and traditional in-house data centre technology, and requires examination using a broader context. This includes the maturity of the technology infrastructure, existence of multiple clouds, and management frameworks, as well as cultural readiness and staffing skills – all with an eye toward improving business outcomes.

“We don’t have IT priorities, we have business priorities. We understand those by communicating with peers across the group, and then we work back from those strategic objectives.”

– Jason Oliver
Director of ICT, Science Museum Group

The modern IT organisation is becoming increasingly focused on business “It’s a workload-by-workload decision-making process focusing on what’s best for the business,” says Margaret Dawson, senior director of global product marketing at Red Hat, in the HPE Foundations of Hybrid IT report. “It’s not just a technology decision about what’s new and sexy. It’s about which workloads will have the biggest impact on the business.”

Top 3 Business Priorities For IT

Accelerating business process and agility
1
Growing revenue
2
Containing costs
3
Source: 2018 IDG Research Survey – UK Results

Jason Oliver, Director of ICT at the Science Museum Group, echoes this by saying that the IT department’s priorities must always be aligned with those of the wider business.

“We don’t have IT priorities, we have business priorities. We understand those by communicating with peers across the group, and then we work back from those strategic objectives. We shouldn’t be doing anything as an IT department that is not meeting the strategic objectives and deliverables that we need to move forward as a group.”

Simon Iddon, Group CIO, The Restaurant Group PLC, agrees: “It’s essential to align [IT] with business strategy, certainly almost all of the projects we do from an operations and consumer point of view, most of those are led by the business and we work in conjunction very closely to get those delivered.

“From a CIO department point of view, you also look after IT, security and BI, and other systems, so quite a lot of it I see as an educational role. Whereas business follows a transformational model and introduces new services, at some point we need to make sure the underlying IT infrastructure and platforms can cope. So, there’s a balancing act.”

With these objectives front of mind, there’s no denying that the cloud plays an important role in any transformation plan.

83% of UK-based organisations in the 2018 IDG Research Survey have moved at least one application or infrastructure component to the cloud, with 17% saying they have always been cloud-based. Just 1% of organisations said they have not moved to the cloud and don’t intend to.

Notably, a fifth (19%) are moving some or all of their data centre and/or networking infrastructure to the cloud, with 14% planning to move mission-critical enterprise applications to the cloud. Through these bold statements, IT leaders are signifying their trust in cloud infrastructure to act as their organisation’s backbone.

But cloud is only one piece of the digital transformation journey; a successful Hybrid IT model involves charting all existing infrastructure, identifying the workloads that should remain in the data centre, and getting rid of end-of-life or little-used legacy systems and applications. IT needs to involve line of business users in this basic assessment, working in tandem to weed out processes and services that no longer have impact while prioritising modernisation of those that have the most potential for strategic advantage.



99%
of organizations have moved at least one application or infrastructure component
to the cloud.
17%
of IT leaders say they work with business units to prioritize IT projects.
“The priorities of the business, and how they translate into IT priorites, focus on what are the strong infrastructure platforms required to run services reliably for customers.”

– Alan Crawford
CIO, City and Guilds Group

CIOs have two basic choices when prioritising transformation initiatives: cherry-pick the workloads that promise to deliver the biggest return on investment (ROI), or experiment with non-strategic apps that have negligible impact on day-to-day operations.

At US healthcare provider Christiana Care, CIO Randall Gaboriault’s team focused first on migrating non-core applications including HR and payroll.

“Our thinking was to move those to cloud first because they are less differentiating to our core value proposition and relatively low risk,” he says. “We’ll move up the arc to things that make up our core business over time. And along the way we will learn, and get better, and get smarter with the cloud.”

To help determine the best deployment approach, companies also need a robust governance model based on a variety of technology and non-technology factors, from cost to compliance risks to business continuity.

“Think of governance as the engine that defines what services within the IT supply chain are available and matches them appropriately as demand comes in,” says Partridge. “Without a governance model, everything else is just a collection of technology.”

The governance model will also help CIOs keep potential digital sprawl in check as workload-specific hardware platforms, legacy operations, and cloud-based services begin to co-exist. A Hybrid IT approach enables organisations to more logically mix and match solutions that best fit the business need. They can act, unencumbered by inflexible IT architectures, and without the complexity that stalls many technology rollouts and can impede digital transformation.

Jason Oliver, detailed his organisation’s own approach to this ‘mix and match’ approach, revealing how hybrid IT has ultimately helped to address the business’ need, while improving both agility and performance.

“We have challenges around legacy applications, but the use of micro-services, Kubernetes and containers is aiding our ability to move those products off on-premise, put them into our public cloud and have them self-contained and secure.”

Hybrid IT speeds digital transformation by ensuring businesses have enough flexibility for continuous innovation, with systems that can be scaled, shared, or reprovisioned as requirements change in response to shifting market or customer demands.

“It’s essential to align [IT] with business strategy, certainly almost all the projects we do from an operations and consumer point of view, most of those are led by the business.”

– Simon Iddon
Group CIO, The Restaurant Group PLC
Key Play

2. The Option

Evaluate your options for Hybrid IT transition
Stay on-prem Core systems/apps Compliance needs Move to cloud Non-strategic workloads Low risk/low impact Mission-critical workloads More bang for the buck Test and learn Delivery model Decision drivers Governance Move to cloud Core systems/apps Compliance needs Governance Choose a delivery model Stay on-prem Decision drivers Move to cloud Governance Choose a delivery model Stay on-prem Decision drivers Non-strategic workloads Mission-critical workloads Low risk/low impact More bang for the buck Test and learn

View the key play highlights

Take a Deeper Dive into Hybrid IT

The Strategic CIO’s Playbook

Create a game plan for accelerating digital transformation with the right mix of Hybrid IT.