IBM today released results of a survey that showed that leading enterprise organizations are using hybrid clouds to gain a competitive edge—even using them as a springboard to newer, higher-value initiatives such as the Internet of things (IoT) and cognitive computing.
The study showed that two-thirds of organizations implementing hybrid clouds said they are gaining competitive advantage from their hybrid environments and are nearly three times as likely to use them to assemble data assets or monetize data, said Cynthya Peranandam, a principal at the IBM Center for Applied Insights, who helped author the study.
“While we know that hybrid is the norm now, what’s revealing in this study is that leading companies use hybrid cloud to their advantage to get ahead with emerging technologies like cognitive or IoT—areas where disruption is going to impact business results and market leadership,” said Peranandam.
A hybrid cloud is a cloud computing environment that uses a mix of on-premises, private cloud and public cloud services with orchestration between the platforms. IBM claims a leadership position in the hybrid cloud space and says it is uniquely qualified to provide hybrid cloud products and services to the enterprise.
IBM boasts that what differentiates it in the hybrid cloud space is all of its partnerships, its historical relationship with its enterprise clients and its deep understanding of the enterprise. The company also is a major supporter of open technologies as it relates to the cloud. Moreover, IBM clients have a lot of value spread across different platforms and devices and are ideally suited to the hybrid cloud, the company said.
“Since early in its cloud efforts, around the time of the company’s 2013 acquisition of SoftLayer, IBM identified hybrid cloud as the model its customers preferred,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. “There were good reasons for that at the time that continue today. For the vast majority of enterprises and many other businesses, the concept of running all their applications and storing all their data in public clouds is simply a non-starter. So to fully capture the significant benefits of cloud, deploying and managing hybrid environments that blend private and public clouds is the way to go.”
For its study, Growing Up Hybrid: Accelerating Digital Transformation, the IBM Center for Applied Insights surveyed 500 hybrid cloud implementers from 13 countries and 23 industries. The IBM Center for Applied Insights is a think tank within IBM that does thought studies around key business problems. The center’s goal is to publish data-driven findings and research that will enable business leaders to make better informed decisions and provide them with insights they can apply across their companies.
“What we really wanted to do was cut through all the market information about hybrid,” Peranandam told eWEEK. “Hybrid cloud is becoming the normal state of being for a lot of companies, whether organically or otherwise. We didn’t want to go out and replicate a standard study on what’s hybrid adoption and is it happening. We know that piece. What we really wanted to delve into is what hybrid is enabling people to do. What are people really doing with it, and are there, in fact, people getting more value out of hybrid than others?”
Hybrid Cloud Spurs IoT, Cognitive Computing, More: IBM
The net of what IBM found is that there is a distinct group of hybrid leaders—referred to as front runners in the study—that are getting more value out of hybrid in specific areas.
“We surveyed 500 organizations that are using hybrid in some capacity,” Peranandam said. “And we asked them what they were getting out of hybrid, and what we found was not all that surprising … that people across the board are getting a lot of value in areas like efficiency, cost reduction, productivity. These are things that are not surprising and that you would expect to get from hybrid cloud.
“But what’s interesting is that these leaders, these front runners, are actually doing better than others even in those foundational gains,” she said. “These people say they are getting more competitive advantage from hybrid. They’re also getting more visibility and control of their hybrid environment.”
Only about one quarter of the respondents, 26 percent, rated out as leaders or “front runners,” according to the survey. “Beyond these foundational gains that everyone is striving toward, these leaders are excelling and moving up to the top of the pyramid,” Peranandam said. “They’re moving into some of the digital transformational goals. They’re getting a lot more from a digital business standpoint, so they’re experiencing product and service innovation, they’re moving into new markets and they’re doing digital services using hybrid. And they’re seeing better value using hybrid that their counterparts are not seeing.”
According to the survey, eight in 10 of the leaders said they believe hybrid cloud helps reduce the amount of shadow IT within an organization. And 85 percent of leaders said they believe hybrid drives more collaboration between IT and line-of-business units.
In addition, 85 percent of the leaders said they believe open technologies are key for hybrid portability and interoperability. Moreover, the survey showed that the leaders are over five times more likely to be using prescriptive or predictive real-time analytics to manage hybrid environments. And more than three-quarters of the leaders said they use advanced automation to manage their hybrid environments.
Hybrid clouds are also be used to improve security and better protect data. Eighty percent of leaders surveyed said they are improving security and reducing risk with hybrid, while another 80 percent said they believe hybrid helps ensure availability and access to critical data. And 62 percent of leaders said they believe hybrid helps them meet compliance requirements.
Pund-IT’s King said the hybrid cloud also suits IBM’s cloud skills and assets, including the global data centers it uses to support a variety of hosted services.
“Plus, SoftLayer enjoyed a particularly strong presence among companies in the Fortune 500, meaning that the company and IBM shared hundreds of common customers,” he said. “Finally, there’s been a notable shift in messaging from well-known cloud players, including AWS [Amazon Web Services], emphasizing their ability to support enterprise-class tasks, applications and workloads. That’s a pitch IBM has never needed to make since ‘enterprise-readiness’ has been ingrained in the company’s DNA for decades.”