In this edition of Voices of the Industry, Flexential’s Ryan Mallory, COO of Colocation Services, and Mike Fuhrman, COO of Cloud & Managed Services explore how a hybrid IT strategy enables businesses to support a distributed workforce without sacrificing the needs of the enterprise.
This past year has been disruptive to businesses, changing the way they work and making them reassess their underlying IT architectures to better support remote employees. With one study reporting that 62% of surveyed professionals would give preference to an employer with remote job opportunities and 29% would seek new employment before returning to the office full-time, it is clear that the remote workforce is here to stay.
To support this new, complex landscape, businesses need to adapt their IT infrastructures. A hybrid IT strategy will allow organizations to match specific workloads closely and cost-effectively with the best deployment models—whether on-premise, cloud or colocation—and interconnect those infrastructures to allow users to interact with one another and access the necessary applications and data with the requisite speed, performance, security and compliance. Simply put, hybrid IT enables businesses to integrate a decentralized footprint into its existing IT strategy without sacrificing the needs of the enterprise and its existing stakeholders.
Addressing the needs of diverse users
To build an appropriate hybrid IT solution, organizations need to reframe how they think about their IT infrastructures, moving the focus from the needs of the enterprise to the disparate needs of the end users. To do this, businesses must consider what applications and data various users need, where they consume it and how they interact with one another. They must also ensure the multiple IT landscapes are interconnected to ensure users can effectively share information and collaborate.
Supporting users of private data and applications – the core data center. The core data center supports on-site teams and employees who work extensively with businesses’ private, internal applications, such as ERP systems. This site is generally located on-premise or at a major interconnection hub. While this site could house all of an organization’s applications and data, this would introduce latency when applications and data are not consumed locally. The demand for low-latency transmissions drives the need for additional deployments that can support stakeholders who are not local to the core data center.
Integrating customers and partners – the middle edge. To support customers and partners who connect outside of metropolitan areas, businesses can utilize the middle edge. By placing workloads closer to where services are being accessed, created and exchanged, organizations can more rapidly distribute services. Online retailers, for example, utilize the middle edge near clusters of customers to minimize the latency involved in downloading web pages or processing payments. Without the middle edge, workloads would have to travel back to the enterprise core, delaying access and risking sales.
Engaging the remote end user – the far edge and virtual technologies. The rise of the remote workforce makes the far edge an increasingly essential piece of the corporate IT architecture. As employees work across more nontraditional, diverse markets than ever before, they must continue to work as efficiently and effectively as they did in the office. To strengthen productivity, businesses must execute IT strategies that introduce points of presence near these remote users to deliver rapid, reliable access to the necessary applications and data.
Virtual technologies, such as desktop-as-a-service (DaaS), can also help support remote employees. By virtualizing the desktop environment, DaaS provides users with the applications and data they need from any location and any device. IT teams can also centrally manage the desktop environment to rapidly provision and deprovision desktop access, update or change the desktop image, troubleshoot employee workspaces, and perform security updates and patches with the click of a button. This unified management heightens visibility and control over the desktop environment to promote efficiency and strengthen security posture.
Ensuring connectivity. A robust network infrastructure is critical in connecting an organization’s various stakeholders and deployments. As businesses integrate the edge, cloud and other solutions into their existing IT architectures, they will need to securely and reliably interconnect these deployments and link them back to the enterprise core.
A word of caution
While hybrid IT provides the needed flexibility and control, it can also create vendor sprawl as the IT solutions may not sit in one place or with one provider. This complicates the management of the IT ecosystem, forcing businesses to pay multiple bills, make multiple service and supports calls, and manage multiple relationships with varied levels of service. Businesses can benefit from an IT partner with a full suite of technology capabilities—from colocation and cloud to connectivity and managed services. Obtaining these services through a single provider like Flexential, who can help the business navigate complex IT issues will help establish and evolve a hybrid IT strategy that supports user needs into the future.
This article was written by Flexential’s Ryan Mallory, COO of Colocation Services, and Mike Fuhrman, COO of Cloud & Managed Services. Flexential empowers the IT journey of the nation’s most complex businesses by offering flexible and tailored hybrid IT solutions comprised of colocation, cloud, connectivity, data protection, managed, and professional services.