David Jones of Hyland gives TechWeekEurope his thoughts on the real business benefits of hybrid
Hybrid cloud seems to be the darling child of the IT media at the moment. Vendors have jumped on the fact that almost every end-user survey is claiming that organisations will be looking to deploy hybrid solutions, as opposed to cloud-only solutions, in near future.
But does this herald the backing by the end user community of hybrid cloud or just a reluctance to fully embrace the cloud?
Part of the reticence to move to a full cloud solution appears to be that, in the minds of some individuals, hybrid cloud delivers a convenient halfway house – an opportunity to try out the cloud, without diving fully in. But in reality this facet is highlighting the biggest issue with hybrid cloud – the majority of these solutions focus on on-premise and/or cloud-based access, with just a fraction of content or functions available. While such access may be useful, it only goes so far. So what are organisations really looking for?
The current approach to hybrid cloud has obvious benefits: the organisation gets to maintain control of its most sensitive content in an on-premise system, while allowing cloud-based access to the less sensitive parts of its information underbelly.
However, this focuses on the spread of data and processing for one single system – be that ECM, ERP, CRM or whatever. Allowing access via the cloud to bits of each of those systems is useful but, arguably, missing the point, as all these systems are connected.
Every business uses multiple software systems and, in an ideal world, these would all exchange information seamlessly and operate as if one, co-joined, entity. Of course, in reality, IT departments spend countless effort trying to get these independent pieces of software to talk and, despite some progress, there is still a long way to go.
Add cloud to this – meaning that the systems that IT are trying to get to talk to each other are now not even in the same building or IT infrastructure, but could be anywhere in the world, hosted on someone else’s hardware and each with their own unique security and connectivity challenges – and things get even harder.
With this comes the key challenge – organisations are looking for the ability to allow their business systems to talk to each other, irrespective of where they live.
This would enable an organisation to select the best-of-breed solutions for all their line of business software requirements, without having to worry about whether they are cloud or on-premise. It would allow content sharing between applications and device, and enable interaction and integration with multiple business processes, from anywhere, using whatever device works best at the time.
The End of the Rainbow?
While this might sound like the Holy Grail for IT and business alike, it is starting to happen. Enterprise content management (ECM) systems are acting as the enabling technology, allowing content and processes to be shared across multiple applications, creating a true hybrid cloud solution.
A place where information exchange between best-of-breed business solutions, that allows access to content and processes, irrespective of the application or device the user happens to be working in, or the physical location of individual systems is not a pipedream but possible today. With this seamless integration achieved, organisations can start to properly recognise and benefit fully from the potential that hybrid cloud can deliver.
David Jones is cloud solution marketing manager of Hyland, creator of OnBase. www.onbase.com
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