Journey to Hybrid Cloud: Dutt Kalluri of Broadridge Explores Business Benefits and Challenges
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Why Hybrid Cloud? Broadridge's Dutt Kalluri shares drivers for adoption and lessons learned along the journey.
In the aftermath of a pandemic year that brought unexpected challenges to organizations across every industry and sector, IT leaders have taken center stage as agents of change. In their efforts to keep businesses up and running during global lockdowns, they were instrumental in accelerating the adoption of new technologies, from cloud computing to 5G, to AI and machine learning.
And as we begin to pivot to the next normal, the need for agility, scalability, and cost optimization have never been more crucial. Businesses continue to grapple with remote or hybrid working scenarios and an increasingly distributed workforce, and new technologies and operational models are necessary to enable a secure, high-performing infrastructure and ensure ongoing business continuity — whatever the future holds.
According to a recent IEEE survey, more than half of responding CIOs and CTOs have accelerated their adoption of cloud computing (55%), 5G (52%) and AI (51%), while other technologies such as IoT, AR and VR, and video conferencing are also on a hot streak. As a result, 92% of CIOs and CTOs believe their companies are better prepared to respond to a business interruption, and over half of this group credit the pandemic for helping them get prepared.
One Financial Services leader who is more prepared than ever is Broadridge, an S&P 500 global FinTech company with more than 10,000 employees. Broadridge, who provides investor communications and technology-driven solutions to banks, broker-dealers, mutual funds, and corporate issuers, was quick to embrace change and pivot operations effectively to remain operational throughout the pandemic. A cornerstone of the company’s strategy was the hybrid cloud.
Business Continuity a Must for FinTech
Global FinTech Regulatory Rapid Assessment Study found that demand for FinTech products and services rose sharply during Covid-19, as they enabled consumers and businesses to complete financial transactions safely via digital payment services and enabled smaller businesses to adopt online ecommerce models. Investor activity increased, as well. As such, Broadridge was under tremendous pressure to provide uninterrupted services to the 5,000 global brands it serves.
“We handle upwards of $8 trillion in daily trades, support communications that reach 75% of North American households and manage shareholder voting in 120 countries,” said Dutt Kalluri, Senior Vice President, Global Technology at Broadridge during a recent Nutanix Cloud Counsel episode. “As such, business continuity is of paramount importance.”
With so much at stake, adopting a hybrid cloud was no longer an option. “We were in the middle of the journey of adopting the hybrid cloud approach, and the pandemic accelerated our efforts,” Kalluri said. “The hybrid cloud model was the best way for us to tackle the challenges we were facing and leverage an optimal combination of private and public clouds to achieve our goals and objectives.”
The numerous operational benefits of a hybrid cloud environment were immediately apparent when the pandemic hit, and Broadridge’s IT organization went from supporting a dozen or so locations to more than 7,000 as the workforce became remote overnight. “Every home office was suddenly an office location that had to be monitored, protected, and supported,” said Kalluri. “Our hybrid cloud gave us the flexibility to support remote and distributed employees with on-demand access to corporate resources,” he said.
But that was the tip of the iceberg in terms of benefits. The hybrid cloud model improves scalability to support changing business needs, and the additional demand of digital technologies on IT resources. “We can scale our workloads up or down, depending on fluctuations in demand,” Kalluri said. “We have better control of spend, as well, and can leverage automation to optimize the performance and efficiency of the environment. Hybrid cloud enables just-in-time resource provisioning, and increases our control over service delivery and costs.”
The ability to distribute workloads across different clouds ensures business continuity. “At the beginning of the pandemic, we experienced huge fluctuations in the stock market, and massive spikes in demand for our services as investors’ trading activity increased,” said Kalluri. “Being able to distribute workloads across the hybrid cloud enabled us to ramp up as needed, then scale back as demand subsided.”
The hybrid cloud model has improved agility for Broadridge, as well, enabling Kalluri’s organization to rapidly spin up new client environments. “What used to take us 24-48 hours today takes just an hour and half, on average. We’ve saved almost about 1,000 hours by enabling DevOps automation with the hybrid cloud approach — and we can now generate revenue from new clients immediately, rather than waiting 48 hours.”
Creating a Business Case for Cloud Encourages Executive Buy-in
Given its many benefits, the hybrid cloud model is being adopted by the majority of organizations. Flexera’s 2021 State of the Cloud Report found that 82% have taken that path, and 90% of enterprises expect their cloud usage will exceed their prior plans as a result of Covid-19. But for many organizations, the transition to the cloud presents significant challenges, including getting buy-in from executive management and ensuring adoption across the enterprise from employees who may feel uncertain, apprehensive, or even threatened by change.
For Broadridge executives, the drive to play and win in the increasingly competitive FinTech landscape provided sufficient incentive. “I focused on the business benefits, emphasizing the impact on our goals and objectives,” Kalluri said. “Competing with the new age of FinTech SaaS providers meant adopting a cloud strategy that would accommodate the various cloud platforms our clients use.”
Transparency and Governance Are Essential for Success
While getting executive buy-in was relatively easy, Kalluri noted that managing resistance to change among employees is a bit trickier. “The moment you say you’re implementing a hybrid cloud, people become fearful, wondering how it’s going to impact them personally and professionally,” he said. “That’s because you’re talking about automating many of the IT functions that have traditionally been manual. It’s important to address the fear of the unknown with transparent, highly effective communication.”
Such transparency helped Broadridge with adopting the hybrid approach. “We believe that technology strategy cannot be conceived in an ‘ivory tower,’” he said. “When you are transparent about the process and involve the teams that will be impacted — the infrastructure and Devops teams, software engineering and corporate governance teams — they become invested custodians of change, and adoption is very high.”
In addition to transparency, upskilling existing IT staff is an essential component of a successful migration. “We looked at how to help our team become automation and configuration management specialists — new age roles that are essential to successfully implementing and maintaining our cloud strategy. This helped to ensure everyone felt included, and encouraged collaboration across the enterprise to achieve our objective.”
Having a hybrid cloud model means managing multiple cloud vendors, and it's critical that those environments work together seamlessly. Doing so requires aligning people, process, and technology, and all aspects of governance ahead of time. “Only about 30% of the solution is technology; the other 70% involves people, process, and governance,” he said. “If you don’t manage those aspects of the cloud journey, your costs can spin out of control.”
There Is No Easy Button
Kalluri, who considers himself a “technology futurist,” said that cloud computing — whether hybrid, multicloud, or private — is no longer the “shiny object” but a mainstay platform for automation, resilience, scalability, and efficient operations. Still, there’s no easy button, he said. “As organizations continue to digitally transform, they’ll rely more on CIOs and CTOs for guidance,” he said. “IT leaders will by necessity be less technical and more strategic, and they’ll play a critical role in the future growth of the business.”
Watch the full interview on demand on Cloud Counsel website.