Hybrid Cloud

A CIO's guide to the cloud: hybrid and human solutions to avoid trade-offs

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What do CIOs and CTOs deliver for the company? If you said “technology,” that’s just the beginning. According to their research, McKinsey found that 85% of CIOs and CTOs interviewed in the spring of 2019 said they were essential for at least two of the three most common CEO priorities—revenue acceleration, improved agility and time to market, and cost reduction.

IT modernization - including migrating to the cloud - is key to business growth and agility. Yet, according to a recent McKinsey study, 80% of CIOs report that regardless of their level of cloud migration, they still haven’t reached their projected agility and business benefits. Sometimes, this is because of issues like training and skills gaps in the IT workforce. Surprisingly often though, the barrier to reaching the goals is based on trade-offs that CIOs themselves feel they must make to strike a balance between the perfect and the possible.

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But what if you could have it all without the trade-offs? As Will Grannis, Managing Director of the CTO Office at Google, and Arul Elumalai, Partner at McKinsey & Company discussed in our recent digital conference, many of the compromises CIOs make can be avoided with new technology, modern architectures and by encouraging a transformation mindset across the business. In interviews, CIOs explained how they’ve leveraged the best of the cloud without compromising on security, agility, and flexibility. Here’s how these leaders avoid three of the top perceived trade-offs—both with technology and by transforming their operating model.

Trade-off #1: Developer agility vs. control and governance
Moving to the cloud offers new opportunities for speed, but 69% of organizations indicate that stringent security guidelines and code review processes can slow developers significantly. One CISO of a multinational company mentioned that cloud development was so fast that they had to institute manual checks on their developers’ code. So much for agility. 

To overcome this trade-off and maintain both speed and security, some respondents found success in DevOps, hiring security-experienced talent and introducing automation for security and quality. Building in security into the CI/CD pipeline and increasing automation don’t just eliminate the tradeoff, they result in higher quality and faster innovation.

At Google Cloud, we’ve also observed that customers with strong DevOps practices have increased speed-to-market and product/service quality. From our own journey, we've learned seven critical lessons essential to adopting a DevOps model, ranging from taking up small projects and embracing open source to building an overall DevOps culture.

Trade-off #2: Single-vendor benefits vs. freedom from lock-in
CIOs perceive benefits to using the fewest number of clouds, specifically avoiding introducing multiple systems that require their teams to develop and maintain multiple skillsets. Unfortunately, 83% of the CIOs interviewed said that while they would prefer fewer clouds, the potential financial and technical lock-in drives them to multiple providers. 

Successful CIOs said that they can avoid lock-in pitfalls not just with contractual guardrails and executive and board education, but with evolving hybrid cloud technologies that provide additional choices. Hybrid cloud platforms based on containers can further mitigate the risk of using a single cloud vendor. The key to successful hybrid architectures is the infrastructure abstraction and portability that containers create for them, enabling disparate environments to work together. 

This notion has been at the heart of our strategy at Google Cloud with Anthos, which provides an abstraction layer and an application modernization platform for hybrid and multi-cloud environments. Enterprises can use Anthos to modernize how they develop, secure, and operate hybrid-cloud environments and enable consistency across cloud environments.

Trade-off #3: Best-of-breed tools vs. standardization and familiarity
Optimizing tool chains for different environments can improve productivity, but many CIOs believe that this means reduced functionality and tools. While 77% of CIOs said they had to standardize to the lowest common denominator, some have found a better solution. Rather than giving up the languages, libraries, and frameworks that their teams prefer, effective leaders said that they found success by investing in training programs to upscale talent and adopting new open and vendor-agnostic solutions. Architectures that are based on open-source components have been the keys that helped remove this tradeoff, and eliminate the notion of a lowest common denominator. 

This is why we have built Anthos on open-source components like Kubernetes, Istio and Knative. Anthos gives your business the choice you need. With the ability to create code that works in most environments using the tools, languages, and systems you prefer, you can do more without major changes to how you work.

Regardless of your current cloud adoption level, check out “Unlock business acceleration in a hybrid cloud world” to discover more about McKinsey’s findings, including how CIOs drive agility, methods to make trade-offs unnecessary, and how to prepare your team for the cloud. Then, stay tuned for subsequent posts that  take a closer look at how hybrid solutions and strategies can help CIOs drive a transformation mindset across the business—without compromising on security, agility, and flexibility.