By Karl Campbell, Regional Vice President, UK and South Africa, at Riverbed Technology

When it comes to IT we have progressed significantly over recent years and there is a constant battle to understand and adapt to the latest trends coming around the corner. The ‘hybrid enterprise’ is the latest player in the IT arena, and this can largely be attributed to advances in ‘as-a-service’ solutions that have changed the way organisations approach their storage, application management and networks.

The hybrid enterprise can be defined as a mix of on-premise and cloud/SaaS apps that use MPLS and public Internet connections. The data and applications are located in a combination of data centres, branch offices and the cloud. It is expected that 75% of enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments in 2015, according to Gartner, a number that is only going to get bigger.

Although this technology is becoming more commonplace, there are some assumptions that may present hurdles when it comes to the hybrid enterprise. The following points out some of the assumptions that can trip people up.

1. The hybrid enterprise is still a few years away

If you are running any SaaS, IaaS or PaaS solutions, you already have a hybrid enterprise.

The following figures provide further support for the arrival of the hybrid enterprise: globally 62 per cent of employees work in multiple locations, 51 per cent of global organisations cite application complexity as their primary challenge, and 52 per cent of organisations have more than 50% of their corporate data outside the data centre.

While this shows the hybrid enterprise is already here, it also highlights how complex IT departments have become and the growing number of challenges faced by the IT department.

2. The vendor is responsible for SaaS performance

While SaaS solutions provide a lot of benefits straight ‘out-the-box’, they are just a service. The delivery of these services is still the responsibility of the CIO. It can sometimes be difficult to deliver an application when it is hosted on a third-party data centre, over which the IT department has no visibility or control.

3. The hybrid enterprise will accommodate any solution

Closed solutions designed to work on visibility, optimisation and control in independent siloes will just not work with the hybrid enterprise. This model only offers a partial view of what is going on with IT and when we are talking about multi-location, multi-platform solutions, it will not offer much valuable insight.

Hybrid enterprises need a single point of reference that shows everything, from an application stack’s current status, through to the database, network and everything in-between. Only by providing a complete picture that shows the true user experience, will the IT department be able to run a successful hybrid enterprise.

4. WAN bandwidth is so cheap so is no longer a worry

When the cost of WAN bandwidth began to drop, some thought that total bandwidth costs would eventually be negligible. However, time has demonstrated that this is not the case. While it is true the price per Mbps is decreasing, the amount of bandwidth hybrid enterprises are consuming is increasing at least the same rate, if not faster.

Latency is therefore an issue as it is based on the speed of light, which is a universal constant. There is only so much that can be done to reduce latency and it will always be a factor in application performance, but it can be managed.

Many organisations are now storing data outside of the main data centre so data has less distance to travel. But when you have data stored everywhere, such as remote data centres, branch offices, and even retail locations, new risks such as security and loss due to system failures become more of a threat.

Operating multiple data centres means data will often be replicated between them, using unnecessary amounts of WAN bandwidth, which in turn adds to latency issues, which again does not solve the problem.

How to mitigate these issues

In the hybrid enterprise, with numerous locations housing different apps and data, everything can be stored securely in the central data centre. This is due to new technologies that provide visibility and control from one performance management platform.

Because the disparate data is centralised, an IT department is able to manage it from one central hub and this reduces the cost of on-site IT support. Furthermore, IT departments can deliver business-critical information at local speeds, ensure it is delivered securely and identify and repair any problems that may arise with regards to business continuity. This provides benefits in the form of increased productivity and end-user experience.