Ask any CIO, and their number one concern for cloud is data security. IDC, in their Best Practices for Cloud Computing Adoption white paper, agrees.
That is because data has become an unmovable resource, said Brian Groen, Cloud Business Executive, IBM Hong Kong. “Where you place your data and who can access it are critical,” he added.
Because of this many are choosing hybrid clouds. These allow companies to keep their data within their private clouds or data center for security and control, while taking advantage of public cloud infrastructure or service providers to process it externally.
The case for going hybrid
The hybrid cloud is already here.
Driven by the need to maximize cloud advantages, while extending the ROI and retaining security benefits of existing infrastructure, businesses are turning to a cloud environment that melds both private and public cloud features.
IBM hybrid cloud takes it further. It tackles security concerns by increasing visibility, control and security. Groen noted that such an environment can offer the transparency to see all data and apps, control and governance to orchestrate workloads and a multi-layered approach to security.
“With operational visibility, you can prevent, pinpoint and resolve problems and bottlenecks with ease,” he said.
This assurance has seen traditional industries embracing cloud. “You can say that banks are one of the most cloud-enabled businesses, even though people think the opposite,” said Groen, adding that many banks already do more volume transactions over their website than at branch networks, along with merchant interfaces and credit card Web portals.
These are the reasons why Gartner sees hybrid cloud deployments accelerating the uptake of cloud-based solutions. The research firm predicts that nearly half of large enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments by the end of 2017.
Hybrid clouds go beyond security advantages. It improves developer productivity, eases integration and portability and sets the foundation for data and analytics.
One area where hybrid cloud is playing a crucial role in Asia is in DevOps. “Clouds give the speed and flexibility that developers need. I have customers in Hong Kong implementing Hybrid cloud just to improve the DevOps lifecycle,” said Groen, adding that the ability to quickly provision computing resources over the public clouds for a period of time has spurred development across the world.
Connecting with and securely accessing applications, data and services is now easier with hybrid clouds.
“Take payroll services for example. HR and salary data is extremely confidential. But payroll processing is often outsourced to a SaaS provider on a subscription basis,” he explained.
Companies looking to hybrid clouds to increase agility and cost efficiency, while balancing security concerns, are also benefiting from standardization. “It is essentially a byproduct of public clouds,” said Groen.
He argued that standardizing on open standards, like IBM’s open-by-design approach using OpenStack, will “level the playing field”. This will directly benefit big data analytics and cognitive analytics (like IBM Watson), which further benefit from standardized data sets.
Designed for business
IBM understands the needs of today’s enterprises. It has added 15 new data centers and 13 new network points of presence (PoPs) to SoftLayer’s global cloud footprint last year, with sites in Europe, Africa, Asia Pacific, and the Americas. These offer cloud services directly to companies that have identified workloads they would like to have hosted by IBM in its role as a cloud service provider.
“We are designed for business,” said Groen. “We are able to offer different environments for different workloads, and our data centers are certified and comply with the latest security regulations. Not many companies can offer this level of optimization and a broad range of capabilities consistently across the different markets.”
More importantly, IBM offers a wealth of experience in addressing the number one cloud worry in many CIOs’ minds: security. Armed with a multi-layer security strategy that spans physical, network, system, application and data security, we can offer features such as tracking devices right down to serial numbers for data storage. With business-friendly features such as this, IBM is becoming the cloud partner choice for many enterprises, regardless of size.
In addition, a standardized framework ensures consistency in price and deployment, no matter where you develop a service or where you roll it out.
“At the end of the day, that is what business customer wants with cloud,” said Groen.
Brian Groen, Cloud Business Executive
(This article is originally published in Computerworld Hong Kong)