A multi-hybrid cloud game plan

Even before the pandemic, Singapore has long highlighted the importance of digital transformation as a key driver for continued economic success. This was further reinforced in Singapore’s Fortitude Budget, where Minister Iswaran said that this crisis has crystallised the need and opportunity for digitalisation, and Singapore can only emerge stronger by making a decisive push towards a digital future.

Enacting this digital readiness for business continuity effectively involves laying the groundwork and investing heavily into infrastructure now, which may seem counterintuitive during a period of uncertainty. Even on the path to recovery, disruptions can come at any moment, and businesses need to double down on extracting every ounce of value from the core ingredient of today’s digital economy – data.

As an overarching strategy, there is a no doubt that leveraging systems such as the cloud puts businesses in an advantageous position. Yet, significant operational barriers do exist, and the increasingly complex and multi-hybrid IT environment that we live in add a further complication towards successful digital transformation.

Legacy systems and a growing application landscape also leave companies with a rigid base, locking data into tight silos. When business teams cannot find the insights they need to make relevant, contextual decisions in, or close to, real-time, they are left relying on “gut feeling” which generates uncertain business outcomes.

So, what’s the answer?

According to a 2020 Forrester Consulting study[1] commissioned by Oracle, Moving the Needle: Data Management for The Multi-Hybrid Age Of IT, the only way for organisations to move beyond this predicament is to build an effective data management strategy that encompasses the right facets of data unification, security, and governance, all within the multi-hybrid complexity of the IT environment.

In fact, multi-cloud is becoming increasingly common – with 36 per cent of the data being hosted on-premise, 19 per cent on a public cloud, and 18 per cent on a private cloud. Despite this, most – 64 per cent – are grappling with the challenges of managing a multi-hybrid infrastructure. Only one in two organisations have data preparation and pipelining that works with several stakeholders, and just 35 per cent of organisations can make data available through managed APIs and quickly generate capabilities for moving it from stores to AI and machine learning models.

The survey responses also show that most organisations only have a moderate maturity in terms of data management practices, and unfortunately, moderate is not good enough to optimise the role of data in transforming businesses. And while firms are approaching data management in the right way, simplifying processes, aligning data to business priorities, and establishing frameworks for security and governance, more work is needed. In addition, the intense focus on these areas is blinding them to the opportunities of multi-cloud. 

This leaves them missing key ways to reduce costs, diversify – essential for business continuity – and gain the unique capabilities that multi-cloud can provide. 

Cloud economics

Obviously, there are economic benefits associated with cloud computing to achieve one of the ultimate goals in business continuity; the need to moderate costs and streamline budget to cater more to important operation needs.

This can be further enhanced by vendor selection, given that not all clouds are created equal. For instance, the fully elastic and serverless Generation 2 cloud that allows you to only pay for what you use, is finding popularity amongst a number of users from Zoom and 8×8 to 7-Eleven Philippines (operated by Philippine Seven Corporation), JNE Express (Indonesia) and Forth Smart (Thailand) in the ASEAN region.

Diversification and innovation

A multi-hybrid cloud approach can also add to these benefits and play a pivotal role in a data management strategy. For a start, it helps companies meet surging enterprise demand for multi-layered cloud data management and cross-cloud data analysis. 

The adoption of multi-cloud helps satisfy the need for diversification and gain access to unique capabilities. Indeed, external technology providers play a key role in organisations’ innovation and ability to leverage new technology capabilities (such as machine learning, AI, data virtualization, containerisation) to enable new business capabilities.

It also helps organisations access the multitude of data needed for generating insights and innovation. This is essential as the report particularly shows how the nature of the data collected by these organisations is changing – only a third is structured, with the remainder being a semi-structured or unstructured mix of text data, images/video, machine-generated data, streaming data, and more. These different data types are also typically stored and managed by an array of technologies and platforms, often on different clouds.

Making multi-hybrid cloud an asset for you

So how should you approach data management in the multi-hybrid cloud era to ensure that you turn it into an asset in the long run? Here are some recommendations from the Forrester study that organisations can adopt right now:

  1. Assemble the right stakeholders: Bringing together the relevant subject matter experts across all functions and divisions within a business will help understand key requirements and identify ownership across the organisation. This prevents and eradicates siloed data strategies, which was reported by the majority of organisations (73 per cent) to be an inhibiter of better IT management strategies.
  • Perform a needs assessment that aligns business and IT objectives: It’s all in the technical details. With all the right people gathered in one place, the current position of the organisation can be ascertained, such as where the data lives and how it flows through the technical architecture. From a technology standpoint, this helps identify any challenges and possible improvement opportunities.

  • Building your implementation roadmap: While business imperatives drive change in various functional areas to streamline data access and sharing, the technology architecture enables such change to happen. A secure foundation in technology architectures should be a high priority when creating the roadmap, for example, incorporating elements of zero-trust in the IT ecosystem.

  • Prioritising options to build a holistic data strategy: When shortlisting options, high priority areas such as data governance and privacy have been identified in three out of every four companies, and hence should take precedence in the prioritisation process. Thereafter, leveraging on integrated platforms and solutions that simplify the IT environment are vital for businesses to create a consistent experience in a multi-hybrid-cloud world and improve business outcomes.

In short, modern businesses know that adaptability depends on data, and their digital business strategies depend on effective data management. However, they must now execute this vision in an increasingly complex and multi-hybrid IT environment. Together with these best practices, organisations can emerge as true survivors and not only weather the storm but also open up new possibilities.

[1] https://www.oracle.com/a/ocom/docs/dc/oracle-data-management-moving-needle.pdf