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IBM Cloud: Hybrid Clouds Offer Innovation, but Not Without Challenges

As tech leaders move towards hybrid cloud computing, they struggle with security, labor skills, and regulatory compliance, a new IBM Cloud report suggests.

The benefits of hybrid cloud computing are compelling, and many IT leaders are opting for hybrid offerings as part of their digital transformation journeys. A hybrid cloud allows organizations to keep some data within an on-premises infrastructure while outsourcing other computing needs to public cloud services. The benefits of such a model include cost optimization, scalability, and flexibility in meeting data sovereignty requirements. The overwhelming downside is the complexity of managing such a model.

In a report titled “IBM Transformation Index: State of the Cloud”, released this week, survey findings indicated that IT and business professionals understand the benefits of hybrid cloud usage and believe that a multicloud approach is necessary to modernizing cloud technology. However, survey respondents pointed to security concerns, lack of skills, and compliance issues as limiting factors that impede cloud goals. According to IBM's study, more than half of the respondents were concerned with security, while 53% cited difficulties with compliance. Perhaps most notably, nearly 70% said they believed their teams lacked the skills needed to successfully manage cloud environments. 

With the global increase in industry regulations comes complexities with compliance. Over half of the professionals polled said that ensuring compliance in the cloud is already too difficult to manage. Given the hybrid model’s siloed approach to managing workloads over a more holistic approach to managing multicloud environments, there is greater risk of “Frankenclouds,” or a cloud network that is disconnected and difficult to navigate, thus hard to secure against data breaches and security blindspots.

Despite efforts to increase data security, and 6 in 10 respondents reporting that they use security tools (including but not limited to VPNs, multifactor authentication, and Confidential Computing), 32% of respondents said that security threats were the top barrier to integrated workloads across cloud environments. 

Yet with 77% of the respondents already using hybrid clouds, the question is not if enterprises will adopt hybrid models, but how they will face the challenges that come along with integration. IBM Cloud CTO Hillery Hunter said she sees a possible solution in industry-specific clouds. “[Industry-specific clouds that] take a data privacy and risk-based approach are key to a successful hybrid cloud strategy for enterprises,” Hunter said. “IBM Cloud for Financial Services, for example, includes built-in security and compliance controls designed specifically for this heavily regulated industry.”  

In response to survey findings, IBM plans to release tools for enterprises to track their transformational journey while assessing their progress against other companies. The tools will focus on efficiently diagnosing obstacles and offering benchmarks for success, IBM said.

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