Hybrid work— people working seamlessly from both the office and a remote location— has been happening for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift in ways few people anticipated. Ironically, while IT’s efforts to support these environments boosted business agility worker productivity, it also further complicated already complex IT portfolios.
Here’s the issue: This glut, comprising a hodge-podge of public cloud, private cloud and edge solutions from several vendors and homegrown on-premises tools, is proliferating as companies lean more heavily into their digital transformations. We call this phenomenon multicloud by default: portfolio sprawl that makes it difficult to be thoughtful and strategic with your multicloud approach.
Fortunately, a solution exists; embracing multicloud by design to form a more intentional approach to building and operating hybrid cloud systems. Before we delve more into this opportunity, it’s important to understand how we landed here.
Carried By the Cloud
People have been splitting time between their home and corporate work offices for years. What has changed is the number of people working remotely has vastly increased since the pandemic emerged the world over two years ago. And that has made IT systems more complicated.
Recall when in 2020 IT leaders tackled the unprecedented challenge of enabling thousands of employees to work from home. Some IT teams created new work personas to ensure that employees typically working from desktops in an office daily could work from home via laptops—overnight. Some companies even established customer service call centers in workers’ homes—ensuring their staff had the appropriate monitors, headsets and other necessary peripherals to serve customers—in days.
Cloud applications, led by video conferencing, team collaboration and virtual whiteboarding tools, made this shift possible. As corporations began allowing employees back into the offices, a cottage industry of pandemic-inspired digital experience applications sprang up to ease this transition to a hybrid workplace.
Cloud infrastructure largely fueled these tools, computing and storing data nimbly from the bottom of intricate software stacks. IT also built or subscribed to several connectors, or APIs, to ensure these tools communicated properly.
The Sprawl Struggle is Real
Most companies were already using Zoom, Teams and other collaboration and productivity tools to connect with colleagues. But as the pandemic deepened many organizations have found they’ve needed to add additional SaaS apps, including software that allows workers to reserve “hot desks,” COVID-19 screening apps and other tools to make office visits safer. In fact, many of those have become permanent solutions even as team members resume returning to corporate offices. And the new digital workforce tools continue to increase already dense IT portfolios to bloat.
Seventy-five percent of respondents surveyed by Enterprise Strategy Group in 2021 said that IT is more complex than it was just two years ago, with 38% identifying higher data volumes as a top driver of that increased complexity. The survey results also revealed 29% identifying increases in the number and types of applications as a driver.
And because many of these apps are connected to other apps running in public clouds or in other locations, their interdependencies grow—significantly, in some cases. All this incremental software adoption—again, much of it cloud-based—has yielded an even more unwieldy—and costly—IT portfolio. In many cases, these are challenges facing IT leaders on top of a full plate of digital transformation initiatives, and the need to reduce or eliminate technical debt.
Preparing for Future Trends
If it wasn’t enough for IT leaders to think about digital transformation and managing a broadening cloud portfolio, they also need to think about what’s to come. For example, leaders should expect greater IT challenges as companies began experimenting with context-aware computing, which relies on intelligent software and sensors. Context-aware computing provide workers real-time information at the right moment and in the appropriate location, often through a series of digital hand-offs, to employees working remotely or the office.
For example, we’re exploring concepts for seamless work experiences that let employees quickly log onto their computers, peripheral devices and applications simply by entering an intelligent workspace. In such an environment, a wireless dock could sense an employee’s PC, connect them to the network and adjust to their preferred display, while keeping the computer charged wirelessly throughout the day. No need to fuss with cables or cords.
Such computing can reduce friction and make it easier to transition from home to office, or vice-versa. Of course, while this new hybrid workplace is designed to deliver outcomes, it also portends greater complexity. It’s prudent for leaders to consider not just today’s IT requirements but what tomorrow’s environment may require.
You Need a More Agile Infrastructure
Regardless of what shape your context-aware computing profile takes, these outcomes are achieved through agile infrastructure that is also predicated on outcomes. This is best enabled via an as-a-service approach to infrastructure that affords IT leaders simplicity and control.
The idea is that your organization will realize the benefits afforded by the public cloud–elasticity and automation—but from the comfort of their own data center or a co-location facility. Ostensibly, you’ll have the cloud experience where you want it—private cloud, public cloud or edge.
Consider the context-aware computing case studies. As sensors and applications relay API calls to automatically control computers, monitors, camera and other connected, the digital hand-offs will occur seamlessly, thanks to the agile, as-a-service model.
What Will This Look Like?
You’ll rent, rather than buy, servers and storage in a self-service fashion, procuring them from a single, digital dashboard that puts the control at your fingertips, rather than entrusting someone else to make the decisions. You’ll pay for these services in a subscription model that will count as OPEX, helping you shed more of that CAPEX model you’ve already been fleeing as you embraced cloud services.
Consuming IT services via an on-demand model while retaining data on-premises to mitigate security, compliance, and performance concerns is attractive to many organizations. But don’t take our word for it. Try it out for yourself.
Learn more about our portfolio of cloud experiences delivering simplicity, agility and control as-a-service: Dell Technologies APEX.