Stamping out the #1 misconception about hybrid IT: It’s not just a transitional strategy

Let’s make two things loud and clear upfront:

  1. The definition of hybrid IT (used for the purposes of The Flexential Hybrid IT Study: A Solid Business Case for Mixed Infrastructure):
  2. Hybrid IT is not a transitional state—it’s a calculated technology decision that makes logical business sense.

Here’s the thing about hybrid IT: it’s commonly considered an awkward stage rather than a preferred choice. Just the word “hybrid” provokes mental imagery of uninformed organizations on a desperate journey to a cloud-only infrastructure, with one reason for having on-premise or colocated environments: to allow themselves to take baby steps toward their utopian IT state.

Sure, some businesses may choose a hybrid environment as a way to move toward the cloud gradually; it’s not unheard of, but it’s also not as common as people may think.

Only 16% of businesses have a hybrid environment because of a transition, according to the Flexential 2017 Hybrid IT study.

It’s not about transition. It’s about maintaining an IT state that makes business sense.

“One size does not fit all, from an infrastructure management perspective, nor from a PaaS or SaaS perspective. Hybrid allows us to choose when it is appropriate to host resources in-house, versus farm it out to our cloud platform such as Azure, or to allow the software vendor to be the service provider (SaaS).”
– Flexential survey respondent

The reality is, hybrid IT is a story of choice. Organizations choose hybrid IT deliberately, for a variety of unique reasons, but ultimately, they do it because it makes business sense. Not only that, but it offers flexibility. In fact, throughout the Flexential Hybrid IT study, the phrase “the best of both worlds” was used more often than any other descriptor for reasons to choose a hybrid environment. So, what are those reasons?

Top 10 reasons for having hybrid IT

1. Cost control

65% of organizations believe that a hybrid IT infrastructure contributes to cost savings.

Over half of organizations feel that a hybrid IT infrastructure contributes to cost savings in their organizations. Conversely, according to IBM, a recent analysis of how businesses use both virtualization and public cloud revealed that some IT decision makers are actually dissuaded from hybrid IT due to cost hesitation. These kind of hesitations are misguided, though; a properly designed hybrid infrastructure can generate return on an upfront investment expeditiously. Organizations using hybrid IT are 38% more likely to achieve a decrease in IT expenditure overall.

48% of ITDMs think that public cloud is the best infrastructure choice for saving money. 29% believe that an on-premise environment is best. Ultimately, cloud, on-premise or colocated environments could theoretically bring cost savings. Budgetary end results depend on the requirements of a given organization, and their emphasis on achieving their specific technology goals versus meeting savings requirements.

“IaaS is a little easier to swallow. We bump up OpEx costs and take CapEx down a little bit. At [our company], 50% of the workforce has been working here for 25+ years. Moving fast comes with a lot of resistance.”
– Flexential survey respondent

2. Resilience/reliability

19% of businesses opt for hybrid because of resilience and reliability benefits. A hybrid colocation model allows organizations to further customize technical services to meet their exact needs. In terms of reliability, platforms are typically chosen based on the best fit for the purpose, so it isn’t necessary to keep a latency-sensitive application running in a public cloud, or concern yourself with the availability or uptime of an in-house, customer-facing CRM.

3. Security/compliance

Security and compliance are also major incentives to opt for a hybrid environment, but “security” is thought of as something of a catch-all term in this context. Hybrid IT allows businesses to pick and choose the systems they’d like to keep on premise and those they’d like to either colocate or put into the cloud. The security benefit typically comes into play for the critical systems and applications that businesses prefer to keep on premise.

  • For some IT decision makers, “security” may mean something as simple as maintaining the most control when keeping a particular IT asset on-site; add to that, some assets moved off-site may bring coinciding compliance issues.
  • It’s not necessarily about what the most secure cloud provider can offer; it’s the peace of mind that comes from keeping critical applications and sensitive data within physical reach of the CIO.

4. Scalability/flexibility

Scalability is a benefit in on-premise, colocated and cloud environments. Keeping part of an environment on-premise or in a colocated facility enables the ability to add resources and make changes to accommodate higher demands fairly quickly. Administrators remain in complete control if management duties aren’t outsourced.

Cloud resources are always available, and also deliver scalability in that resources are provisioned on-demand; faster than on premise, or in a colocated environment.

Flexibility is a hybrid benefit across the board. IT organizations have the power to configure the platform and resources required for the unique needs of each asset without limitations. Hybrid IT allows businesses to maintain legacy systems or critical applications on premise, but place other systems in a colocated or cloud environment when it makes sense.

“Our infrastructure has had to scale dramatically. We have seasonal fluctuations. We have to be available and perform around the clock.”
–Flexential survey respondent

5. Transitioning state

Here’s the hybrid environment incentive that’s a bit of a slippery slope: the “transitioning state.” This is not the #1 reason to use hybrid IT by any means. Most organizations use hybrid IT deliberately and strategically on an ongoing basis. However, the possibility of using hybrid IT as a gradual path toward the cloud is not unheard of, and it works well for businesses who truly operate an infrastructure that will do fine in the cloud.

First off, it’s rarely possible to simply cut the cord to the internal data center. Applications and processes are tied to it, and they aren’t easily moved. It is necessary to use both on-premise and cloud services for a period of time until some level of operational transition to the cloud is complete.

Which raises the question—who wants all of their IT systems in the cloud? It’s not an arrangement that works for everyone, which is why it’s not the end-all impetus for hybrid IT. However, small organizations who can’t afford the upfront costs of colocation are often a good fit for a total cloud environment.

6. Easier or more efficient

The right mix of on-premise, cloud and colocated IT can actually make life easier and more efficient. That mix looks different for every business, but ultimately, a hybrid environment can optimize systems per their unique requirements, ultimately accelerating the delivery of services and applications.

There are some applications that just can’t run in a cloud; usually legacy applications. Or perhaps they could, in theory, but it would require more resources and tedious workarounds. These sorts of systems and applications are just easier to host in-house, while applications that are written for the cloud can run in the cloud.

7. Better to have some systems on-premise

This one speaks for itself—there are some systems that are just better off on premise, and a number of scenarios that justify keeping them there:

  • Legacy applications
  • Security concerns
  • Budgetary constraints

8. Better services

Services are somewhat of a given when it comes to hybrid environments. Hybrid IT definitely delivers the wherewithal to pick and choose the best platforms for supporting various systems, but having IT assets in disparate locations can make monitoring and management tricky. This is where partnering with an experienced hybrid IT partner will optimize the benefits of the environment itself.

The right hybrid IT partner will provide:

  • Managed infrastructure services
  • Monitoring
  • Management

9. Innovation

Hybrid IT is a flexible method for accommodating the diverse technology goals of businesses of all sizes, and it reinforces the multifaceted objectives of digital transformation that all decision makers grapple with, as reported by Microsoft. Innovation is a primary focus, and generating business value through new ideas and continuous delivery of services are critical for achieving a competitive edge. Overall, hybrid IT is about calculated choice, and it delivers a wide range of options for IT decision makers who try to support the accelerating pace of innovation, while also delivering stability and security.

10. Legacy systems

See #6—legacy systems are often left on-premise. It is often very difficult, if not impossible, to make a legacy system work in the cloud. It isn’t worth the time or resources, yet the system is critical to business operations, so it has to stay up and running through end of life.

You know your business. What are your reasons for hybrid?

61% of organizations would intentionally choose a hybrid environment if starting from scratch.

We know it’s not just because you’re on your way to the cloud. There are so many strategic incentives for building a hybrid environment that can better accommodate a wider range of technology initiatives. It’s clear that the business dynamics of today create the need for a major overhaul to traditional IT infrastructure, and failure to adapt could leave some organizations behind. That’s not to say that businesses who haven’t gone hybrid should hurry up and upend their systems just for the sake of the cutting edge. Hybrid IT is harnessed for total business benefit—not just greater convenience for IT.

To dig deeper into the reasons for hybrid IT, contact us at or (877) 448-9378 to speak with one of our experts today.