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Hybrid Cloud: Opening the Door to IoT and Innovation
Giving organizations the ability to seamlessly move between on-premises and off-premises cloud options

Rarely have we experienced such rapid innovation in the IT industry. CIOs have become essential leaders of the business, both in terms of promoting growth by optimizing technology and mitigating risk for their organizations. At the same time, IT departments are being stretched as business demands outpace available budget and legacy investments consume most resources.

Creating flexibility in today's IT environment has become critical as organizations seek to strike a balance between maximizing existing enterprise application investments and continuing to drive innovation and efficiency. Many are turning to cloud technology to support evolving business and IT goals.

Just as businesses can't take a one-size-fits-all approach, neither can the technology on which these organizations rely. That's where hybrid cloud comes in: giving organizations the ability to seamlessly move between on-premises and off-premises cloud options, allowing them to utilize cloud computing and the business advantages it offers to their fullest potential.

Hybrid Cloud: Opening the Door to Innovation
Analysts predict that in four years' time the global hybrid cloud market will grow to $79.54 billion at an annual rate of 30.19 percent per year. Business leaders are choosing cloud for its economics, speed and flexibility. Public cloud offers speed and cost effectiveness. Private cloud offers a higher level of isolation, control and customization for enterprise use. A hybrid environment with both cloud options, and the ability to move applications seamlessly between them, plays an important role in enabling new business models to emerge.

As organizations consider options in a hybrid cloud environment, finding a strategic way to use on-premises and off-premises cloud opens the door to greater opportunities for innovation and optimization. For example, a business can rapidly deploy new mobile apps in an off-premises cloud environment and integrate them with enterprise applications in the corporate environment on-premises. Over time as the mobile app gains acceptance and becomes more integrated into the business, there is the option to move it into the corporate IT environment.

Off-premises cloud can also be an opportunity for businesses to test and learn. They can try out ideas quickly, deliver a result in a week or two, get feedback and then repeat. Behind this rapid experimentation and innovation is the confidence of flexible operational alternatives in either an on-premises or off-premises environment - based on the needs of the business.

Organizations may choose to utilize an off-premises environment for Dev/Test to handle the rapid, dynamic setup of test environments for enterprise applications, and then use the corporate private cloud environment to put enhancements into production. Alternatively, there may be some instances where it may make sense to offload key enterprise applications from an on-premises environment to free up space for additional projects.

Quickly and Easily Extend Enterprise Application Investments to the Cloud
Bringing applications to the cloud, using on- or off-premises infrastructure, can take significant time and resources to manually configure and integrate all of the elements necessary to deploy and manage an application, its environment and the underlying infrastructure.

The good news is that the path can be simple - complexity can be automated out of the process for both on-premises and off-premises cloud options. This can be done by capturing enterprise applications and their environments in a deployable form called patterns, and then using these patterns in an expert integrated application environment based on open standards to automate deployment and management across hybrid cloud options. Once a pattern is created, it can then be used across on-premises and off-premises environments without having to change it - providing seamless portability.

Patterns can take advantage of an integrated and automated application environment to simplify and reduce the time and resources needed across the application lifecycle. An application platform that is designed to deploy, manage and monitor patterns can save time, resources and costs while lowering the risk of errors.

As an example, independent software vendor EIS Group created an application pattern for its insurance industry solution, which enables it to address new market segments. Now, EIS Group can offer its clients the option to develop and run EIS Group core systems across a hybrid cloud environment, making it easier for clients to optimize total costs.

Combining the economics, speed and flexibility of cloud with enterprise application investments provides a powerful opportunity to extend and grow a business. Regardless of industry, IT budget or infrastructure maturity, organizations can benefit across the board from the flexibility and efficiency offered by a hybrid cloud environment. As solutions for this segment emerge, organizations will realize greater returns on IT investments, quicker response time to shifting demand, and better alignment between various business functions.

About Jason McGee
Jason McGee is an IBM Fellow, VP and CTO, Cloud Platform, and Containers/Blueprints Tribe Leader at IBM.

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