In a recent webinar, a panel of hybrid cloud experts from Microsoft, Rubrik, and HCL Technologies provided insight into hybrid cloud and data protection trends that will be evolving over the next 12 to 24 months. The panel also recognized some of the key positive business outcomes for customers and discussed how Microsoft, Rubrik, and HCL have come together to help enterprises digitally transform through their joint solutions.

Trending in Technology

A recent survey conducted by HCL and Vanson Bourne shows that:

  • 47% of respondents said their IT infrastructure is “completely ready” to support digital initiatives, while 49% are not ready, and 4% are only partially ready
  • 95% of organizations agree that IT infrastructure transformation will help them innovate faster
  • 94% of enterprises said that cloud adoption is a priority for them

The panel found that there were new directions to their conversations with customers. The following are the six trends shaping the solutions they are delivering.

6 Trends Shaping Hybrid Cloud Customer Conversations

  1. Service Over Servers: The service model itself is changing. Customers do not want to talk about servers and technologies. They want to focus on the services they will receive as business and technology move forward.
  2. Consuming One Drink at a Time: Customers want to pay as they consume. They do not want to have extra capacity that they are carrying and paying for; the expectation is that they should be able to scale when they need to. At a bar, it would be the equivalent of paying by the drink and getting your bill at the end of the evening versus pre-paying your bill based on how much you think you might drink.
  3. Technology Evolution: Everything is starting to revolve around data and analytics. This evolution is driven by IoT, big data, software-defined containers, and similar data heavy-hitters. Data has become primary. Because of this, data sprawl and data management need a lot more focus and support.
  4. Security and Compliance: There are a lot of situations in which ransomware and malware are affecting businesses–especially with the sudden increases in remote workforces since there is a larger attack surface. With that come more intense regulations, compliance requirements, and heavier fines associated with breaches and lack of data protection. Customers want assurance that there are higher security and compliance features built into their solutions.
  5. Digital Transformation Acceleration: Organizations of all sizes are looking at the public cloud to extend their capabilities by utilizing some of the services that are provided from a pay-as-you-go perspective.
  6. From Why to When: The question is no longer why cloud but when cloud, which means that organizations are looking to migrate data and workloads into the cloud with the goal of reducing their on-premises infrastructure footprint and optimizing costs.

The Digital Transformation Acceleration

There are two primary pillars on which these trends are built–modernization and optimization.

Modernization stems from the immediate need for enterprises to branch out, extend, or evolve into more complex and distributed workloads. The interesting frame behind modernization is that as data becomes more distributed with more remote access of data and applications across on-premises and cloud, there are new infrastructure models–virtual machines, containers, and task services–that are driving the next wave of evolution for organizations.

This is underscored by the need for organizations to optimize their infrastructure, not only in terms of cost but to simplify management capability and enable infrastructure management across on-premises and cloud environments at scale.

Infrastructure must also adapt to economic changes and new business requirements. “There is obviously a very, very deep requirement of saving costs because, as we’re seeing a lot of changes in the economic side of things, there is always an increased need to reduce CapEx,” states Saurabh Sensharma, Senior Program Manager at Azure Storage, Microsoft. “So, what we are seeing is that new investments in computer storage infrastructure continue to decline. And this makes Infrastructure-as-a-Service delivered by the public cloud a very interesting option.”

With so many people working from home, all of whom are plugging into core networks through their private networks, there is a great demand for available and secure access to data and applications. There is a need for data and applications to be hosted in a very secure and cost-effective manner that renders simplified management, across on-premises and cloud.

A Brief History of Digital Transformation Points to the Future

If you go back to the 1990s, most of the critical data lived in enterprise applications like SAP, Siebel, or Oracle. That was the first wave of automation that came into large enterprises. This is when enterprises started building applications and really started the digitization process. It was mostly applications that were provisioned in the data center. Additionally, you had to provision the hardware and the software that were required to run those applications.

Then, as we went into the 2000s, the public cloud started coming into widespread use. The interesting thing about public cloud was that suddenly you saw this opportunity to instantiate a large number of instances very quickly. This meant that thanks to the elasticity and economy of scaling, costs for infrastructure were going down. This presented a great opportunity, but enterprises were still focused on the data center.

Fast-forward to the next decade. This was when society saw the explosion of social media in our personal lives and, as a result, the avenues by which enterprises communicate with their customers changed drastically. It was no longer an email or a phone call. People interacted through various forms of social media like Twitter or Facebook. Enterprises started adopting SaaS applications and moving towards completely managed SaaS applications for their critical business data.

As a result, there has been an explosion of data that is no longer contained within massive data centers but instead sits in multiple silos. There is a massive amount of data coming through the cloud via various SaaS integrations, as well as applications in a data center.

As we enter the 2020s, enterprises that want to be successful will have to exploit that data and really glean business insights from the data they gathered. There are a lot of insights and data that they can mine to serve their customers better.

“At Rubrik, we call this the data-forward enterprise. But this is really about enterprises leveraging the data. And this data can sit in your data center, or it can sit in the public cloud. You have to liberate the data from the underlying infrastructure and leverage it,” says Arvind Nithrakashyap, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Rubrik. “Obviously, the multitude of services that, for example, Microsoft Azure provides, allows enterprises to build applications very, very quickly on top of those services. So now you have to look at: how do you take data that maybe originated in a data center, make it available in the cloud, and then build your analytics applications or any other applications you want to use on top of the data?”

Enterprises must have a system that allows them to seamlessly move data and metadata between cloud and on-premises, one that gives them a single fabric through which they can take data, make it available to the cloud, perform various operations on it, and bring the information back into the data center. It is the complete decoupling of data from the underlying infrastructure so that enterprises can obtain full insights and intelligence from that data. That’s what the 2020s will be about–garnering intelligence from the data while simplifying data management.

Digital Transformation Outcomes and Data Management Asks

The experts from Microsoft, Rubrik, and HCL weighed in on what their customers want and what their technology can provide. The consensus was that there are six common asks from enterprises:

  1. Time-to-market: Customers want to be able to quickly start a service in just minutes or hours.
  2. Scale as they go: Customers do not want to pre-commit.
  3. Improved customer experience: Customers want to have a single data fabric for the enterprise with a simple technical architecture.
  4. Operational simplicity: Customers do not want to deploy a technology and then face a lot of stages of employee and support personnel training.
  5. Cyber-security and restoring: When customers have a security incident or ransomware attack, they want to be able to restore faster. Many of the existing tools offer easier restore mechanisms; however, the speed at which they restore is significantly slower than what customers want.
  6. Cost: Customers want to keep the total cost of ownership affordable.

Overall, embracing a hybrid cloud strategy is about simplification–simplifying operations, architecture, and cost. Click here to watch the webinar and learn how Microsoft, Rubrik, and HCL Technologies are helping customers to become data-forward, embrace a hybrid cloud strategy, and simplify data management.