Kathy Gibson is at Nutanix .Next On Tour in Sandton – Companies want to undertake a digital transformation journey for solid business reasons – engaging with customers, building competitive advantage, increasing revenue, implementing new data-driven models, and improving agility.

And CIOs are front and centre of achieving these goals, because business transformation depends on technology.

In fact, the technology at the heart of digital transformation impacts every aspect of the business, says Venugopal Pai, vice-president: customer success of Nutanix.

“IT is the enabler to make that a reality – from customer-facing operations to the back office.”

Finding the right path and platform is a difficult issue, he adds.

Organisations spend a lot of time simply keeping the lights on when they should be spending time and effort on innovation. They need to switch this around, says Pai.

To make the move, he says, they need to consider a cloud-first solution.

But this isn’t a flick of the switch, Pai stresses. “If you have hundreds or thousands of applications, where do you start?”

IT needs to articulate a clearly superior strategy to the business – and think about how to make it a reality.

“You need to look at the right strategy and platform that will make that job easier.”

Cloud means that things don’t have to be as complex as they are traditionally, Pai says.

To get there, they need to spend time on infrastructure modernisation that includes operational efficiency and economics, infrastructure as code, software and APIs that are cloud-like and can run any app or workplace.

ITaas – where aaS stands for automation – involves architecting for simpliaity, automation and integration across clouds.

The final goal is to be an innovation centre offering the business speed and agility with workloads on private cloud, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments.

“You have to be real about the challenges,” Pai says.

Public cloud means having the true agility of running everything on software. “A platform story, with simplicity in mind, brings value to what Nutanix does.”

We no longer talk about converged infrastructure, Pai says. Virtualisation is also not top of mind anymore either.

These things are often vendor-specific and may not allow for a true API architecture for the hybrid cloud.

The private cloud must be predictable, have great performance and low latency, with regulatory compliance and better control. The public cloud is elastic and cloud native.

Moving to the cloud must allow IT to deploy apps in minutes, offering one-click simplicity and flexible IT consumption with no downtime.

The cloud industry realizes that enterprise are not going to move everything to public cloud as enterprises worry about data gravity and legacy apps, regulatory concerns, loss of control and unpredictable costs.

While hybrid cloud is the solution, there are challenges in implementing it, Pai says.

The public cloud introduces new silos, with different public clouds specialising in different areas.

“As IT you are still responsible for them all.”

There are also complex management challenges and disjointed constructs.

If public cloud is truly something that is part of your strategy – and it should be because some applications demand that elasticity – you need to be aware of the complexities, Pai says.

“We have seen cases where companies have gone all in, but are rightsizing now, bring some or all of their workloads back on-premise.”

Many customers who went all-in saw huge cost overruns – and often didn’t know why.

“Proceed with caution when someone says cloud-first,” Pai warns.

These conclusions are based on the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Index, where 85% of companies have shifted from public to hybrid cloud. In fact, 73% are migrating back to on-premise infrastructures.

Globally, 60% say security is the biggest factor impacting their future cloud strategies: companies believe hybrid cloud is the most secure architecture, followed by on-premise/private cloud, then hosted/managed private cloud, then tradition.

In South Africa, 84% of enterprises are moving from public cloud to on-premise infrastructure – and much of this is based on cost consideration.

“The technology landscape is changing. There are many different things coming at you. We realise we need to help our customers to spend more time on applications and less time on infrastructure.”

The journey of Nutanix is to make the infrastructure and its management simple, Pai says. “Focus away from just keeping the lights on, and focus instead on the things that are important to the business.

“The less things you manage, the simpler your life can be.”

The cycle is not just about buying technology, he adds, it is about changing the processes and reskilling the people.

“At the end of the day, one cloud does not fit all. Nutanix helps you to develop a true hybrid platform.”