How hybrid cloud is fueling digital transformation

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An interview with Capgemini Experts, Sam Ibrahim, Cloud Solution Executive – North America Cloud Practice, and Sekou Page, Associate Director and Architecture Solutions Leader –  North America Cloud Practice.

~ Interviewed by Steven Taglio, Global Marketing Lead, HPE  

In spite of its impressive cost and flexibility benefits, public cloud alone is not the right approach for many enterprises; a hybrid solution that includes both public and private (on-premise) cloud very often is. The recent introduction of Microsoft Azure Stack has made hybrid even more attractive by allowing enterprises to use the same Azure platform for both public and private cloud. I interviewed Capgemini’s Sekou Page and Sam Ibrahim and asked them to explain why hybrid cloud is such an important approach and how Capgemini can help enterprises select, implement and operate the cloud approach that’s just right for them.

Taglio: Why doesn’t public cloud alone work for all enterprises? It sounds like an ideal approach for just about any enterprise with its ability to reduce costs and deliver flexibility that adapts to demand.

Page:  You’re right, Steve. Public cloud was long promoted as a catalyst for IT transformation and an offering with the right capabilities—ease, agility, speed of access, scalability, and economics. But, business and technical considerations, including regulatory compliance, data sovereignty, security, cost, and latency issues, have caused many organizations to say no to public cloud.

Ibrahim: That’s why we’ve seen hybrid cloud become top of mind for enterprises around the world. According to RightScale, 85% of enterprises are pursuing a multicloud strategy. Hybrid cloud improves efficiency, accelerates delivery of apps and services, and gives you the flexibility to combine your preferred cloud and existing on-premises infrastructure in the ratio best suited to your organization.

Taglio: That definitely makes sense. So why is the introduction of Microsoft Azure Stack so important in this whole equation?

Page: As an element of Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Azure Stack offers services in an on-premises cloud environment under the enterprise’s control. By enabling a consistent and flexible hybrid cloud environment, developers can leverage the same tools and processes to build apps for both private and public cloud, and then deploy these to the optimal target platform that best meets specific business, regulatory, and technical requirements.

Ibrahim: I think it’s important to note here that Azure Stack is different from any other approach because Microsoft owns the hypervisor, the operating system, and other key elements of the solution. They do not have to leverage technology from other companies. As a result, Azure Stack delivers a true Platform as a Service (PaaS) experience.

Page: And that’s a major game-changer. But, while a hybrid cloud is definitely attractive, a new Microsoft Azure Stack initiative is not something you can – or would even want to implement overnight. It takes a good deal of planning, strategic thinking, a vision of where the change could possibly take you, and how long it will take for the returns on your investment to impact your business growth positively. That’s where Capgemini comes in. We provide the expertise that helps enterprises select the solutions that’s right for them, streamline implementation and ensure that the solution achieves the results the enterprise expected.

Taglio: Sounds like a great way to proceed. So where do your start?

Page: With one major question: Is cloud really right for you? It sounds very basic, but the answer is critical.

Ibrahim: We’ve found that enterprises can want a cloud just because everybody else has one or is planning one. They may not have determined if it’s something they really need and if it will help them make their business better.

Page: So we work closely with them to see IF cloud is the right approach. We then determine WHICH cloud approach is best – public, private or hybrid. To do that, we rely on use cases that typically indicate an ideal match for a hybrid cloud.

Ibrahim: In our experience, we have defined four use cases that apply. The first is a well-defined need for data sovereignty, security, and compliance. The second is a requirement to support high-performance analytics, Big Data, and low-latency apps. The third focuses on providing connectivity for disconnected apps. The final use case addresses modern app development with the need to deploy apps to private or public cloud.

Page: To give you an example of how these use cases are applies and why they are important, we recently worked with a major defense contractor. For obvious reasons of data security and control, they were heavily invested in a private cloud approach. But the U.S. government is requiring even their contractors to leverage public cloud. Capgemini worked closely with our client to respond to government mandates for public cloud use, while also ensuring the privacy and security that’s essential to them. This “best of two worlds” approach is possible with hybrid cloud.

Taglio:  You mentioned “inhibitors” earlier. What are they and how do you deal with them?

Page: We try to identify and address inhibitors as early as possible in the planning stages, because they can sink the entire cloud initiative. They typically fall into three categories:  technology, processes and people.

Ibrahim: Inhibitors are natural in this type of process where the enterprise is being asked to implement a revolutionary change that impacted not only the data center bu the entire enterprise.

Taglio: Understandable. So what are some of the typical technology inhibitors you come across?

Page: Available bandwidth is a major one. Enterprises worry that they may not be able to utilize apps to their fullest in the cloud die to technical limitations. This is especially true for enterprises with many disconnected assets like shipping line, airlines or even manufacturing. They often think that they cannot make use of the cloud. Microsoft Azure Stack changes that conversation. We make them aware of that change and show them exactly how to connect the disconnected.

Taglio:  What about process inhibitors?

Ibrahim: Companies have legacy ways of thinking about technology and the ways they manage processes like security. Many of these ways are not applicable to the cloud. They will need to develop a different mind-set to make these processes successful in the cloud. We try to show them that the cloud is basically an extension of their environment that needs to be managed in a different way and not looked at with the old ways of thinking.

Page: And it’s important to note that change must start at the leadership level in order to be successful.

Taglio: That leaves people inhibitors, which, experience tells me, may be the most difficult of all.

Ibrahim: You’re right, Steve. People can be resistant to change, especially if it impacts … or even competes with … what they currently do.

Page: We must also keep in mind that people are an enterprise’s most valuable resources. So it’s important that changes like a journey to the cloud be accomplished while retaining the maximum number of current employees, Capgemini works closely with every client to help them show employees how the skills will be valued and their tasks optimized with cloud adoption. For example, cloud often means that technical staff will be able to spend much more time on business initiatives rather than on simply keeping systems online. We also provide the vehicles to help people transfer skills or learn new ones so they can contribute just as effectively – or more – within a cloud-based environment.

Taglio: We’ve discussed many of Capgemini’s capabilities, but what are some of the specific services you provide to help clients on their cloud journey.

Ibrahim: I think the first ones we’d want to mention fall within the cloud strategy category that enables digital transformation. We offer Cloud Business Vision that aligns cloud strategy with a client’s business objectives to create a compelling target end-state. We also offer Cloud Value Case that identifies the costs and benefits of the next stage of the journey to the cloud.

Page: The Cloud Roadmap is a particularly popular choice in the category since it allows us to work with the client to plot their journey through the options and activities needed to deliver the end-state. And the Cloud Transformation Plan identifies the associated organizational changes and skills needed to unleash the true potential of cloud.

Ibrahim:  We also offer many services in what we call the “Align” category that seeks to deliver the best cloud option for each of the client’s applications. The services in our “Animate” category help you manage both private and public clouds. Many of these services can be utilized at any point of a client’s journey to the cloud. And all have proven themselves to be very effective in getting a client to exactly where they want to go.

Taglio: That sounds like a clear benefit if I’ve ever heard one. How else do clients benefit from Capgemini’s involvement?

Page: The roadmap we discussed can take a client far beyond the initial implementation of a hybrid cloud. We can also create a plan that optimizes their cloud … and the results it delivers over time. So we might take them from an initial Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to Platform as a Service (PaaS) to containers to true micro services.

Ibrahim: And the benefits extend beyond the IT organization as well. Everyone mentions the cost savings and flexibility for IT, but it delivers similar benefits to Dev Ops. And we can’t neglect to mention the Capgemini Cloud Reference Architecture (CCRA) that provides clients with an optimize approach for each cloud vendor. CCRA has proven its ability to accelerate any client’s move to the cloud.

Page: Client’s benefit from our close alliance with both HPE and Microsoft. They get a complete solution like the HPE ProLiant for Microsoft Azure Stack that has been developed together and that they know will deliver top performance from the very start. Capgemini will provide support that will take care of the solution throughout its lifecycle.

Taglio:  It sounds like Capgemini, HPE and Azure Stack can make a winner out of any enterprise.

Ibrahim: Definitely. With all of the cloud options now available, any and everyone can take advantage of the benefits available only from the cloud like scale-up/scale-down flexibility, cost-efficiency, enhanced reliability and efficiency, and greater productivity.

Page: For that reason alone, we’d encourage every enterprise to look closely at today’s offerings and see how they respond to their current needs and their plans for the future,

For more information  

Check out the following resources for complete details on how Capgemini can help you on your cloud transformation journey:

www.capgemini.com/hpe

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