Technologists, be ready for a hybrid future

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Rumor has it that cloud native technologies will catapult the IT industry into a new era of innovation. No code and low code platforms are accelerating release velocity and enabling organizations to ramp up their digital transformation programs in a way that simply isn’t feasible with traditional approaches to application development.

But while modern application stacks are already playing a game-changing role in how IT teams are able to innovate at speed in response to changing customer demands, it’s not as simple as organizations simply switching from legacy applications over to cloud native technologies. As many business and IT leaders are learning, cloud migration isn’t immediate. It takes time and planningit’s costly and it can be incredibly complex.

For the vast majority of IT departments, the years ahead will be characterized by a blend of cloud native and on-premises applications and infrastructure. And therefore, they need to see past the hype surrounding cloud native technologies and recognize the critical importance of managing and optimizing both cloud and traditional applications within a hybrid environment.


On-premises will continue to play a vital role for many organizations

Without doubt, there is growing demand for cloud native technologies within many sectors. IT leaders recognize the advantages of cloud in terms of speed to innovation, agility, scale and resilience. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen how modern applications stacks have enabled brands to pivot and develop new digital services to meet changing customer needs and enable hybrid work for employees.

However, it’s important to remember that for many organizations, and particularly large, global enterprises, the majority of their IT estate is still running on-premises. In some cases, this might change over the coming years but the move to the cloud will be gradual – it takes time to migrate complex, legacy applications to the cloud. Some organizations might migrate elements of their applications to the cloud while other components, such as the system of record, will remain on-premises for the foreseeable future.

Another factor here is that some business and IT leaders are slowing down on their cloud migration plans in light of tough ongoing economic conditions, particularly as the associated costs continue to climb. We’re certainly seeing a lot more scrutiny about how and what IT departments are moving to the cloud.

But irrespective of complexity and cost, there are also more fundamental reasons why many organizations will continue to keep some applications on-premises, and that is control. With on-premises environments, IT leaders have total control and visibility of their mission-critical applications and infrastructure. They can see where their data is residing at all times and they can manage their own upgrades.

This approach is very prominent within the technology and semiconductor industries where major global brands are protecting vast amounts of high-value intellectual property. Business leaders aren’t prepared to place their crown jewels outside of their own four walls – rightly or wrongly, they see moving their IP into a public cloud environment as too great a risk and they just won’t allow it to happen.

There are also other industries such as financial services, healthcare and pharmaceuticals which are severely restricted on what they’re able to migrate to the cloud due to data privacy and security. Banks and insurers have to comply with rigid data sovereignty regulations, ensuring that customer data resides within national borders. And within some parts of the public sector, the rules are even tighter. Federal government agencies are required to run air-gapped environments, without any access to the internet, and state and regional government departments also have strict regulations around storing and sharing citizen data.

For this reason alone, on-premises computing will continue to play a major role for huge numbers of organizations, particularly the biggest and most high-profile brands in these sectors.


IT teams need the right tools to optimize performance across hybrid environments

The strong likelihood is that many organizations will move towards, and remain with, a hybrid strategy over the next five years and beyond, where they retain specific mission critical applications and infrastructure on-premises (either by choice or regulatory necessity) and then transition other elements of their IT into public cloud environments. In doing so, they can enjoy the benefits of both – the scale, agility and speed of cloud native and the control and compliance of on-prem.

This hybrid approach means that IT teams need to be able to manage and optimize availability and performance  accross both cloud native and on-premises environments. This is why we’re seeing increasing numbers of IT departments embracing OpenTelemetry as a way to get detailed visibility into highly fragmented and dynamic cloud native environments. At the same time, there is also a growing recognition that IT teams can’t neglect performance monitoring within their legacy applications and infrastructure.

The challenge is, however, that many organizations are still using separate tools to monitor on-premises and cloud applications, and therefore they have no clear line of sight of the entire application path where components are running across hybrid environments. They are having to run a split screen mode and can’t see the complete path up and down the application stack. This makes rapid troubleshooting almost impossible, with IT teams constantly firefighting as they battle to understand and resolve issues before they impact customers. There are now far too many instances of MTTR and MTTX shooting upwards within hybrid environments, with a very real risk that organizations will suffer downtime or an outage.

To address this situation, technologists need an observability solution which provides unified visibility across both cloud native and on-premises environments. They need a platform which can ingest and combine OpenTelemetry data from cloud native environments and data from agent-based entities within legacy applications.

Technologists need real-time insights into IT availability and performance up and down the IT stack, from customer-facing applications right through to core infrastructure, across their hybrid environments. And importantly, they also need the tools to correlate IT performance data with real-time business metrics so that they can easily and quickly pinpoint and prioritize the issues which have the potential to do serious damage to end user experience. This allows technologists to cut through complexity and data noise and focus their time and investments on the things that matter most to customers and the business.

Of course, cloud native technologies will continue to steal the headlines over the next few years and technologists will rightly be taking steps to ensure they have the right tools and insights to monitor and manage highly dynamic microservices environments.

But the very best IT teams will also recognize that they can’t let their guard down within their on premises environments. They still need to optimize the availability and performance of legacy applications, whether they’re purely on-premises or running across hybrid environments. After all, for many organizations, this is how their most critical applications will run for some time to come.