As businesses come out of the lockdown imposed by regulators to battle the global pandemic, leaders must start to rethink their organization’s digital agenda and priorities.

In the ‘new normal’, employees will continue to work remotely, at least partially, and a greater chunk of the customer journey will be exclusively digital, irrespective of the industry. As a result, how organizations view their customers and staff, their infrastructure, and their applications must change – and influence its security, business, and operational policies.

The aim, ultimately, is to build a resilient digital enterprise.

Organizations need to reevaluate their digital transformation agenda, prioritize the development of an agile and flexible infrastructure, and recalibrate for changing employee and customer experiences. At the most fundamental level, that boils down to deciding which applications need to live on the cloud and which ones should stay in on-premise data centers.

The cloud enables experiences with agility

Initially, it was believed that the cloud was the future host of all applications because of the various benefits it promised. That thought changed when organizations realized that despite the phenomenal uptime it delivered, the cloud was often more expensive than on-premise solutions, and quite a challenge to harness and optimize.

There’s no doubt that the cloud is great at delivering exciting experiences to customers and employees alike – from e-commerce applications to remote collaboration tools. Using the cloud to deliver such experiences seamlessly and securely, however, requires a technical as well as an economic assessment. After all, the cloud isn’t always the cheapest option available to decision-makers deliberating about the organization’s infrastructure and architecture needs.

For those making the leap to the cloud, however, there is a strong emphasis on cost control, along with a focus on governance in order to ensure that the use of cloud resources doesn’t put the organization’s data or network at risk.

Analyst firms such as IDC tracking enterprise technology spending have long forecasted a year on year increase in spending on cloud infrastructure. In 2020, IDC believes spending will touch US$69.2 billion, a 3.6 percent annual increase over 2019 the figure.

In light of the pandemic, these numbers seem reasonable, especially given the growth in demand as a result of employees working from home and using online collaboration tools and migrating new workloads to the cloud. Post the pandemic, understandably, IDC expects demand to remain sticky as cloud managed and cloud delivered becomes the default choice.

Analysts expect significant traction in the cloud infrastructure market driven by the fear of missing out.

From my conversations with business leaders, a robust growth in demand is guaranteed as customers allocate more funds to build foundation capabilities for their digital enterprise and modernize their Infrastructure.

Hybrid clouds need operational control, policy, and governance

It’s no secret that on-premise solutions are often more cost-effective than the cloud, for up to 90 percent of workloads. Which means, simply moving applications to the cloud, wholesale, isn’t a wise decision.

Combine that with the fact that on-premise offers a significant degree of security and governance, control over everything from intellectual property to maintenance, and even provides workload stability, and you realize that it is still quite a promising proposition.

Further, on-premise is often much easier to manage, especially with the world moving to a complex multi-cloud world. Most organizations, through years spent working with the technology, have acquired strong talent pools and expertise in running and optimizing on-premise data centers.

Although operational costs on the cloud can multiply rapidly (and quickly), the move to the cloud cannot be put off any longer. Of course, on-premise continues to be a strong contender, providing leaders deliberating about where their applications and workloads are housed with interesting choices.

In the new normal, businesses are therefore amplifying their hybrid cloud ecosystems – using a thoughtful mix of cloud and on-premise solutions. This decision, of course, is also cost-effective.

To harness the full potential of such an ecosystem, organizations need better visibility, smarter analytics, and a certain degree of automation. Investing in developing these will allow IT managers to be better equipped with centralized monitoring and intelligent provisioning capabilities to support and protect the organization and its needs, even remotely, and also helps the organization be better prepared for future crises.

Cisco’s clients, often industry-leaders, have been aggressively trying to build a resilient digital enterprise. Their infrastructure strategy is focused on providing a seamless and secure experience to staff and customers alike, whether delivered via on-premise data centers or via the cloud.

In the healthcare industry, for example, we know that a number of marquee institutions are choosing cloud infrastructure solutions such as Meraki Wifi, DNA Analytics, Cisco Webex, and so on — demonstrating the uptick in demand that IDC and other market analysts have forecasted.

Cisco’s portfolio includes a variety of tools to help customers deploy and manage existing and new applications in a hybrid and multi-cloud environment. When moving to the cloud, security is key. In the Asia Pacific region, a healthcare organization can lose up to US$23.3 million according to a recent Frost & Sullivan study. Our expertise with owned, homegrown, and third-party cybersecurity solutions gives customers the confidence to move to the cloud with speed.

Augmented by our several years of experience through the various generations, phases, and models of the cloud infrastructure world, our clients in healthcare as well as in other industries, are destined for success.

At the end of the day, business leaders looking to upgrade their infrastructure need to remember that a hybrid cloud is the new normal for enterprises.

On-premise isn’t dated, cloud isn’t always cool, and security needs more focus than ever before. That’s the way to build an organization that will thrive in the ‘new normal’.