By Willie Schoeman – While the general opinion by industry observers is that organisations will virtualise the majority of applications and workloads and move to the public cloud – with the public cloud representing up to 80% of companies’ infrastructure footprints – most businesses have pivoted to a hybrid approach in response to the need for more balance.

It is expected that more than 90% of organisations will opt for multi-cloud architectures to avoid over-reliance on a single public cloud provider. Hybrid cloud models are thus often required to meet the full scope of business requirements.

However, to cater for all business requirements, hybrid architectures are complex. To set one up, organisations need to find the right cloud services to meet their diverse business and technological needs.

Defining the right infrastructure strategy to meet business needs and manage complexity can be accomplished by focusing on five key steps:


Defining and selecting the suitable landing zones

At Accenture, we’ve established criteria to help organisations define the suitable target environments and then select the appropriate target for each application – referred to as “landing zones”.

A landing zone is a client-specific configuration within a cloud, which can be optimised for different purposes (like the license cost of a database or usability for developers). We look at each company’s unique business needs and constraints through this process, including legacy apps, industry standards, and regulatory requirements. The sweet spot? Keeping the cloud landing zone strategy as straightforward as possible while meeting all business needs is essential.


Defining an optimal hybrid architecture

To define an optimal hybrid architecture means integrating landing zones from one or more public cloud providers, private cloud data centres, co-located data centres and edge computing zones. It means developing an integration layer across all landing zones, aligning and integrating processes, and pooling the skills needed to engineer, operate and optimise across the business.

Working with an experienced partner can often accelerate this effort by leveraging their library of hybrid cloud blueprints. For example, Accenture has developed a vast collection of detailed architectures, technical designs and hundreds of automation and configuration scripts supporting both change areas: technology and process. These blueprints help jumpstart the mapping of workloads to landing zones and navigate complex environments with confidence.


Creating a Continuum Control Plane

Each environment comes with its own set of management tools but using all the different ones probably isn’t a great idea. It’s easy to end up with IT management siloes, making it much harder to control cost, performance, and availability.

Instead, companies should look for a Continuum Control Plane, a holistic approach that allows developers and operators to automate everyday tasks and workflows at scale, regardless of location. It brings together new processes and a better-integrated set of tools enabled through new platforms and automation. The control plane addresses two essential requirements. It embraces automation and self-service to holistically secure, operates and govern a hybrid, multi-cloud estate (stabilise) and to optimise and continuously harness innovation across multiple private and public cloud providers (agility).


Defining the proper roadmap and sequence

Considering the evolving and multiple landing zones, various steps may be required on a long-term plan for an application. It makes sense to look at families of applications together in some cases – for example, if a business process spans three applications. Occasionally, a new Software-as-a-Service offering may replace several smaller applications. In some cases, it can be more cost-effective to rethink a business process,
rather than customise a solution to fit an existing process.

It’s also important to consider the operating model. How will you shift from managing horizontal layers towards vertical service-oriented management? Will you use DevSecOps? To what degree? Which skills/people are you going to need? How will you build full-stack management teams? These are just some of the questions to consider.


Planning for continuous innovation

Your business is not stationary. Neither should your IT. Once companies have reached their target state, they can continuously harness innovations from multiple private-and public-cloud providers. It means constantly reengineering infrastructure to maintain alignment with the business as strategic goals shift and new technologies are introduced to the estate.

A “target state” is not defined by a technology stack but by the resilience of your processes and the adaptiveness of your people to continuously evolve within the Cloud Continuum. With a Continuum Control Plane, you build a solid foundation for this evolution without reengineering time and again when a new cloud service comes along.


To sum up

In most cases, the public cloud alone isn’t enough, and companies will continue to rely on private cloud and traditional IT to meet specific business needs. Hybrid, multi-cloud architectures are often the only option, but they are complex to set up and operate.

To manage hybrid architectures, companies need the right strategy, the suitable operating model, the right talent, the right tools, and the transformation roadmap to get there. It is vital to keep them as simple as possible and plan how to manage complexity rather than neglecting that it exists. It will keep the business secure, lean and agile


Willie Schoeman is MD within the technology business and cloud first lead at Accenture in Africa