Organizations must accept the new Hybrid IT reality and prepare to thrive in it. Source: Shutterstock

Organizations must accept the new Hybrid IT reality and prepare to thrive in it. Source: Shutterstock

Cisco Chief: Businesses must prepare for ‘Hybrid IT in an unsecured world’

BUSINESSES aren’t spending enough on IT. Given the changing demands of customers, the new expectations of regulators, and the emerging competitor landscape, businesses need to invest more in IT.

Global GDP is currently pegged at US$86 trillion — while Global IT spend in 2019 is expected to total only US$3.7 trillion.

Spending in 2019 grew only 0.4 percent over 2018 figures. That statistic raises concerns because business leaders seem to understand why they need to invest in technology but seem to be sitting on the fence instead of pioneering an enterprise-wide transformation that could potentially even disrupt the industry.

Fortunately, Gartner’s forecasts suggest that spending will pick up in coming months with growth for 2020 projected to reach 3.7 percent and for 2021 pegged at 3.8 percent.

To better understand the landscape and why companies must accelerate their journey to digital, quickly and safely, Tech Wire Asia spoke to Cisco Chief Strategy Officer Anuj Kapur.

“If you look at what a CIO or a CISO hears in terms of forecasts, it’s a very noisy world. There are a lot of trends. There’s 5G, there’s robotic process automation (RPA), there’s IoT, and many other acronyms that they now need to be aware of.”

The chaos, however, isn’t a reason to wait and watch.

Although not an official Cisco position, Kapur encapsulates the trends of consequence in a single phrase ‘hybrid IT in an unsecured world’.

Breaking down the phrase, Kapur explains that the first thing that businesses need to realize is that we no longer live in a single cloud world or a single data center world.

“Fundamentally, what we have is an increasingly large number of companies that have recognized the benefits of the cloud in terms of the flexibility and agility that it offers but have a desire to work across multiple cloud vendors.”

Organizations, because of risk management practices, existing vendor management policies, and developer needs, tend to work with at least two different cloud providers — plus an on-premise environment.

This means that most enterprises have moved from a very controlled environment 10 years ago where they owned and operated their own data center to an environment where there are multiple owned-data centers operating alongside workloads executed on multiple cloud-based environments.

If this wasn’t complex enough — companies also need to set up and use additional cloud environments in order to comply with regulations requiring the local storage and processing of data — be it in Europe, Asia, or anywhere else.

“So, all of a sudden, in the interest of agility and flexibility, and to keep up with the velocity of innovation that you need to drive, you have adopted what is known, by definition, as a Hybrid IT model.”

The other part of Kapur’s encapsulation, ‘hybrid IT in an unsecured world’, refers to security.

While security is a chief concern for any business in the digital era, for an enterprise operating in a Hybrid IT environment, the challenges are far more complicated.

The vectors in security —namely, threat actors, attack types, and attack sophistication — are constantly changing and business leaders need to be able to secure their data and protect their business in the face of the challenges these vectors pose to their IT infrastructure and organization.

“Security is the only market in the world in the context of Global GDP where there is an active adversary. The only other industry that comes close is the pharmaceutical industry where the adversary is nature. But nature only adapts once every, say, 30 years, whereas the human mind [attackers] adapts every 30 minutes.”

Security, therefore, is the problem statement of the hour, especially with more and more businesses living, breathing, and transacting in a hybrid IT environment.

As a result, organizations that want to confidently navigate through the digital world need to find ways to thrive with Hybrid IT, despite being in an unsecured world.

The work that Cisco does is obviously geared to provide visibility and support to clients grappling with these challenges — and the company works with a number of vendors and partners to provide clients with holistic solutions.

The first step for any business leader, however, is to recognize the changing landscape, commit to taking action, chalking out a bigger budget, and making a better effort to drive enterprise-wide transformations.