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Is the Cloud an Experience or a Destination?

In a recent episode of the Cloud Happens podcast, Archana Venkatraman, Associate Research Director in Cloud Data Management at IDC Europe talks about how the cloud isn’t a destination. It’s a continuum; a journey. In this blog, we explore that idea a bit more and dive into what really encapsulates a cloud experience. How can modern enterprises benefit from their cloud journey to solve the most gnarly data challenges to unlock innovation, enhance security, and drive resilience.

Cloud Strategy and Data Strategy Are Two Sides of the Same Coin

There are numerous examples of traditional companies creating an edge over their competition not just by sharpening their core competency but by finding innovative ways to put their data to work. Competing on data is the new normal. 

Recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) Research shows that the top area of investment in building a cloud strategy is around the strategy for managing and using data across the increasingly complex technology environment. Yet too often we find enterprises investing in a narrow cloud strategy putting their business at risk, causing irreversible damage to reputation and customer satisfaction. 

Here’s where investing in a flexible data platform, purpose built for the hybrid cloud, can offer a path of convergence between your cloud and data strategy. According to the same HBR research, nearly two out of three survey respondents say that their organization is having difficulty keeping up with the rapidly evolving technology roles and responsibilities required to manage its increased hybrid cloud adoption. A hybrid cloud experience is a critical enabler for agility and responsiveness. But it doesn’t have to be this hard.

What is a Hybrid Cloud Experience Anyway?

Fundamentally, a hybrid cloud experience in a subscription economy is about being able to continually innovate with minimal disruption and maximum flexibility. Our conversations with technology and business leaders center around how they can delight their customers with superior customer experiences across digital and physical interactions in a unified way. A true hybrid cloud experience should accelerate and secure your cloud journey while enabling you to address an expansive set of data-centric business challenges. 

While most leaders would agree that a hybrid approach is optimal, many are at risk of falling into the trap of making hybrid cloud adoption centered squarely on which workloads continue to live on-prem and which ones are best moved to the cloud. Rather than thinking in binary terms, leaders are advised to think in terms of creating a consistent experience across on-prem and cloud footprints, supported by a consistent set of tools and skills.

The enterprises that reap the benefits of responsiveness and cost optimization in their cloud journey are highly correlated to the ones who think in terms of cloud as an experience, not a destination. While multi-cloud adoption can sometimes tend to be inadvertent, hybrid cloud adoption needs a deliberate strategy tied to specific business outcomes enabled via workflows that are connected across cloud and on-prem boundaries.

Scaling Your Hybrid Cloud Experience

The reach of hybrid cloud is getting wider, starting to include the edge more frequently. It’s also getting deeper, with machine learning and indexed data lakes becoming ubiquitous. As a result, hybrid cloud environments need to be set up for scale from day 0. We find scale and choice are the top reasons for adopting a hybrid cloud approach.

Scale can’t be retrofitted. Lifting and shifting apps to the cloud, without actually setting up for success in a cloud-first culture, may tick a box but won’t fetch you returns in the long term. 

Data resilience, high availability, and disaster recovery are table stakes today. As a case in point, how many of your services were completely unaffected by public cloud outages in the last year? Business leaders should expect more of their data vendors. Are they looking at 360-degree visibility to help them innovate and protect at the same time? 

Scale and choice are related in the context of hybrid cloud. Noone wants to be locked into a technology stack, or worse, a vendor who is motivated to lock you into their technology stack. While some cloud providers offer a “good enough” set of data services, consider the real (i.e. egress) and opportunity cost of being locked into a stack.

Lock in can have a direct impact on scale, impeding your hybrid cloud journey. What happens when you need to use data services that aren’t all available with one cloud vendor? What happens when regulatory requirements change and you need to offload data to on-prem or private clouds? What happens when your relationship with the vendor sours but you have no alternative since your data and skills are tied to one cloud? 

Our recommendation to leaders is to pick a strategic data partner who can meet you where you are on your hybrid cloud journey, and bring their technology to meet your data where it lives, rather than moving data to them. 

If you’d like to dive into more details on this topic, we recently highlighted our top five considerations for scaling with the cloud to share best practices and trends. We’d love to hear your cloud stories.

Irshad Raihan
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Irshad Raihan

Irshad Raihan is a seasoned product marketing leader, building high-performance teams across IBM, HPE, and more recently Red Hat. He enjoys formulating messaging and GTM strategy for enterprise technology, and working across product teams to inspire, inform, and initiate customers on their buyer's journey. Irshad holds an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University, and a Masters in Computer Science from Clemson University. When he's not biking around Lake Tahoe on his Trek Madone, he enjoys grilling on his coal-fired homemade tandoor clay oven. Irshad joined Splunk in November 2021, and shared this update on his first day - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/data-road-again-irshad-raihan.

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