It's inevitable that the future look of enterprise IT will be a hybrid mix of on- and off-premises services. 45% of companies rely on at least one Software-as-a-Service application today, and a third of companies are already using some form of Infrastructure-as-a-Service at Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, GoGrid, and the like.

While your particular mix of cloud and cloud-like services will vary, it's unlikely that any I&O pro will be primarily focused on configuring server, storage, and network devices as a core competency in the long run. The hybrid IT infrastructure is well underway, so you can either ignore it, try to contain it, or embrace it.

Those first two options are off the table – the cloud ship has sailed. So how do you embrace it? First, don’t be thrown off by that “hybrid” moniker. Forrester defines hybrid cloud as a cloud service connected to any other corporate resource. That means most companies are actually hybrid today; if you have at least one SaaS app connected to anything in your data center, you're hybrid.

Second, you should start to plan for the impact of hybrid cloud on your role and on your current IT operations. In a hybrid world, you’ll still own some of your IT resources but you won’t own a growing portion of them. You might not even be the person responsible for sourcing cloud services, but whether it’s your business units or developers bringing cloud services into your company, I&O will ultimately be responsible for managing them. No matter where it runs, your application is yours after all.

In my latest report, I explain how the I&O role changes in a hybrid cloud world, how I&O pros need to accelerate the cloud application delivery life cycle to exceed business expectations of cloud, and which cloud management capabilities I&O must master to take on the role of hybrid cloud manager. You can also check out my webinar on the same topic, available for replay. Highlights include:

  • Developers Want Cloud, But They Don't Want To Manage It. Developers increasingly prefer to build and deploy applications in the cloud because it gives them fast and easy access to infrastructure and application services. But as their cloud use grows, they need to take on operational responsibility that distracts from coding and testing. What they can't get from central IT, they build or buy themselves.
  • You Have To Earn The Right To Manage The Hybrid Cloud. Before I&O pros can take control of enterprise cloud services on behalf of their business cloud users, they must prove their value and change the focus of IT ops from the traditional IT infrastructure life cycle to the cloud application life cycle. To do this they'll need tools and processes to remove the management burden from developers.
  • Master These Cloud Management Skills To Optimize Your Hybrid Cloud Portfolio. Cloud management includes familiar IT capabilities that are updated and extended for the hybrid cloud world, one in which you won't own much of the underlying IT infrastructure. It's time to look at which IT operations processes will carry over to the hybrid cloud and which need to be supplemented by newer tools and technologies.

Regardless of how you define hybrid cloud today, the benefits of a hybrid, extended data center infrastructure are clear: more options to run workloads on new and emerging platforms, access to elastic resources, faster time to market for new services, and higher overall IT efficiency. An ideal hybrid cloud strategy should make infrastructure that you own as easy to consume as infrastructure from the public cloud, and by the same token, it should make infrastructure from the public cloud as easy to manage and control as infrastructure you own.

Hybrid cloud shouldn’t add more management complexity, it should simplify IT operations. Get out ahead of the complexity that cloud introduces by taking a close look at your IT management processes now with a hybrid future in mind. One way to get to cloud faster is to not only look at the cloud as a place to build new applications, but a place to run existing applications more efficiently and effectively. Look for hybrid cloud solutions that extend the tools you already have in place today into the public cloud.