Most enterprises have an accidental hybrid IT reality, rather than a strategy. As various groups and geographies in enterprise organizations procure their own cloud services independently of the IT organization, conflict emerges between the use of traditional computing infrastructure and of cloud options. As this situation grows, it exposes inefficiencies and risks that demand a more strategic approach.

How did we get here?

The potential for hybrid IT was created by two flavors of cloud computingg: SaaS and IaaS.

While , Salesforce deserves credit for normalizing the SaaS model in the minds of enterprise buyers whose initial concerns over security and performance were sidelined by business demands for its capabilities.

IaaS became mainstream when Amazon Web Services on March 14, 2006. It armed developers with direct access to infrastructure and an ability to bypass the IT operations provisioning bottleneck. This, combined with agile development practices, unlocked the potential for devops, which emerged in 2009.

. When enough stories emerged of companies like Netflix out-innovating Blockbuster (leading to the latter’s demise), it tends to draw attention.

As cloud has crept into the enterprise, it has displaced some, but not all, of the traditional computing environment. In many cases, IT organizations cannot abandon legacy investments without introducing unacceptable risk and cost. Thus, we have this uneasy aggregation of cloud and traditional computing, referred to as hybrid IT by .

Why the status quo must change

The impact of running cloud and traditional services in parallel in the enterprise is most painfully felt by application development teams and IT operations. As long as cloud and traditional services operate independently, there is a division that increases management complexity and reduces the agility of the organization, impacting the overall competitive posture of the business.

From an application development perspective:

,” but enterprises have standards for availability and regulations that cannot be ignored without severe consequences. As the use of cloud services accelerates in the enterprise, you can expect these challenges to grow.

Getting to a strategic approach to hybrid IT

A strategic approach to hybrid IT means enabling the choice of environment for a workload to be made entirely based on what is best for the business. This is true both for newly developed applications and those that have run faithfully for decades.

This doesn’t automatically mean that public cloud services will always be selected.

For example, there are some services provided by enterprise IT organizations that run in a mainframe or distributed environment that are practically bulletproof. Rearchitecting and deploying those services to the public cloud would mean taking on significant cost and risk to availability that may not be in the best interest of the business. So those workloads need to remain where they are for the foreseeable future.

But there are also workloads running in a data center that is at capacity, or for business reasons needs to be shut down. Migrating those workloads to the cloud, or replacing them with SaaS could support the agility needs of the business.

There are serious challenges to enabling true hybrid choice, covering mainframe, distributed, virtual, private, and public cloud environments. Managing the complexity and dynamic nature of these very different platforms that were never meant to work well together requires operational and security management that is nimble enough to keep pace, which was difficult enough when all the computing resources ran under the authority of IT operations. With cloud services, operations and security teams will have to evolve their approach.

This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network.