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Here’s what you need to know about the forces shaping the future of enterprise IT

By Christian Reilly, Vice President and CTO
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Recently, I was talking to the CIO of a large Citrix customer about the phases of transformation and we spent a lot of time discussing the merits of both multi-cloud and hybrid cloud—eventually agreeing that although these terms are often used interchangeably, they are actually two different sides of a very important and strategic coin, and that each has specific, fundamental elements to consider.

Interestingly, at the end of 2017, as we do every year, a number of folks from Citrix were asked to give some predictions for 2018. My main one was around Hybrid Cloud.

The ongoing debate around public cloud versus private cloud has raged for almost a decade, yet the smart money says that the hybrid or multi-cloud model is going to be the most dominant in the foreseeable future. Many of the savviest organizations are systematically figuring out which workloads to leave on-premises or move to infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or software-as-a-service (SaaS). The hybrid approach is flexible and secure enough to deal with the different types of connectivity.

It seems like a no-brainer, but Hybrid Cloud is often the result of ongoing strategic workload placement for reasons of either cost, compliance, or performance. I like to think about this workload placement as a choice of deployment mode where there is, more often than not, a requirement to have VPN or IP-level connectivity between on-premises and cloud provider infrastructure.

So, what of multi-cloud and why is that important? Well, each time a typical enterprise customer adopts a single cloud service—such as a SaaS app—they become multi-cloud by definition. The further addition of services, from different providers, often reflects a best-of-the-best strategy that helps IT respond to the increasing demands of the business.

Multi-cloud is a fact of today’s emerging business and technology models. It does not mean choosing between that and hybrid cloud, but rather thinking about the latter as one element of the former. In multi-cloud, there will almost certainly be a mix of Infrastructure, platform- and software-as-a-service components—and the number of providers will almost certainly reflect the number of traditional vendors with whom enterprise IT has engaged historically.

The promise of multi-cloud is one of agile, responsive, and fit-for-purpose applications and services that place tomorrow’s IT at the tip of the spear for transformation. Many CIOs are wrestling with these phases of transformation and we are beginning to see a clear and recurring set of approaches in those who are skilfully balancing the existing and future enterprise estates.

The enterprise CIOs phases of transformation can usually be categorized in three ways: consolidation, standardization, and optimization.

Consolidation helps lay the groundwork, bringing about efficiencies in cost and operations that help get the seat at the table and build trust with the Board. Standardization of both process and technology allows IT to respond to the business quicker and more reliably than ever before. Optimization focuses efforts on securely delivering the right information to the right people at the right time—driving new levels of productivity for all end users within the business and in the organization’s external ecosystem.

It is for precisely these phases of transformation that we at Citrix have put so much effort and focus on building our Citrix Workspace platform to allow customers to provide a consistent, general purpose experience for all their users.

By general purpose, I mean that the workspace adds value to every employee, regardless of whether they need just a few SaaS apps or whether they have complex desktop and mobile application needs, reflecting the most advanced user requirements. General purpose ensures that the workspace is completely compatible with traditional virtualization, hybrid cloud, and multi-cloud models—some of which many CIOs have already deployed.

The phases of transformation can easily be mapped into something more memorable—efficiency, effectiveness, expansion. They are part of the blueprint of the CIO’s journey, and they are how we can shape the future of IT.

This article was produced by Citrix and not by the Quartz editorial staff.

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