Flexential Customer Advisory Council Shares Insights into the Future of Hybrid IT and Security
Engaging customers to gather critical insights, leverage mindshare, build a peer community and future-proof business strategies – these are the goals of the Flexential Customer Advisory Council (CAC) and why we created this forum one year ago. Flexential recently hosted the second annual two-day summit with this dynamic group of IT leaders who represent a cross section of industries including software and IT, healthcare, networks and mobility, entertainment and retail.
Along with Flexential leadership, the CAC members tackled the rapidly evolving technology landscape and had in-depth, virtual discussions about data center and cloud strategies as well as security during and after the global pandemic. The takeaways were, for the most part, in alignment with broader industry thinking. However, there were some interesting nuances uncovered that IT leaders could consider when determining strategic direction and making critical decisions about the future of workloads and service delivery.
Data Center and Cloud: The Future of Workloads and Service Delivery
When asked, CAC members agreed that a hybrid approach to IT infrastructure remains their top choice over the next three to seven years, reinforcing that this approach is better than “one size fits all.” While public cloud has its advantages and makes sense in use cases that require rapid scale as well as change and agility, the overall costs are not cheaper. Further, these leaders agree that connectivity must be seamlessly integrated with cloud, data center and SaaS applications. They are looking for a single solution for DCI (data center interconnect), internet, public cloud connect and SD-WAN.
To illustrate how businesses are implementing a hybrid model for data center and cloud solutions, we polled the participants about where the majority of their workloads are currently located. Among the CAC members, 44% said colocation, 22% public cloud, 17% hosted private cloud and 17% on-premise equipment. Additionally, when asked where the majority of their workloads would be in two years, 43% said public cloud, 33% colocation and 24% hosted private cloud. All of the members continue to make headway on retiring on-premise facilities as much as possible.
Key takeaway: Hybrid IT is here to stay and is the long-term solution businesses are looking for in an IT provider.
Security: Balancing Agility, Compliance and Risk
During the second day the discussion focused on security, as it remains a top concern for IT leaders. CAC members agreed that security requires top-down governance and that their teams are spending more time than ever to meet the growing security requirements as laws and end-customer needs become more complicated. In fact, end-customers are asking for more and expecting a SaaS-like experience. When it comes to balancing risk and innovations, IT organizations are shifting resources to solve for end-point security during the pandemic and are not shifting back. Trends further indicate that the scope of security and compliance is expanding to include portals and management tools, which can result in a slowdown of the execution and adoption process.
There is also increased adoption to using AI platforms to assist in event management and improving response rate for security concerns as platforms scale, especially now that more workers are remote, and edge platforms continue to grow. In addition, platforms or partners that can provide services across hybrid platforms are of growing importance to them.
When CAC members were polled about how much support they wanted in implementing and managing compliance from a provider like Flexential, half said they wanted consulting support to fully managed solutions including remediation. Of the remaining half, 33% said they preferred only consulting services while 17% said they did not require any support.
Key takeaway: As businesses weigh the pace of security changes and requirements in relation to risk, the ability to detect and mitigate any attack with the proper tools and a strong provider/partner remains paramount.
One thing is clear, Flexential and the CAC members will continue to share laser focus on hybrid IT solutions and the importance of a well-balanced security approach to most effectively meet the ever-changing, dynamic needs of their businesses and IT infrastructures.