Helping IT Leaders Use Hybrid Cloud as a Business Differentiator

Helient Systems principal and solution architect Will Fulmer discusses the operational efficiencies of hybrid cloud infrastructure and AI technologies — and how even traditionally conservative businesses are growing wise to the advantages.

By Jason Johnson

By Jason Johnson October 11, 2023

IT solutions architect Will Fulmer has noticed a shift in mindset when meeting with his clients. After years of hemming and hawing over modernizing old infrastructure, organizations are adopting cloud-smart strategies, motivated by the total cost of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI) benefits hybridized workloads can provide. 

“Companies are looking to leverage their infrastructure as a differentiator,” said Fulmer, a Principal at the IT consultancy Helient Systems. “It’s important that we can deliver cutting-edge solutions that add value to our customers’ businesses.”

Those who drag their feet risk missing out on cost savings. The Wall Street Journal dubbed 2023 the Year of Efficiency as business leaders move to streamline operations in the face of inflationary pressures. Fulmer helps companies deflect some of those headwinds by architecting leaner IT strategies. He said organizations are managing expenses and staying competitive by shifting to hybrid cloud IT operations. 

“A lot of our organizations are doing economic analysis of the cost to own and maintain the equipment versus the cost of software as a service and paying by the meter,” said Fulmer, who is a Nutanix Certified Master and Technology Champion. “That’s where the hybrid cloud model really took off.”

Will Fulmer headshot

To his point, the majority (60%) of IT teams already leverage some form of mixed IT infrastructure, according to the Nutanix 2023 Enterprise Cloud Index report, and the adoption of hybrid multicloud infrastructure, or the use of private cloud in concert with one or more public clouds, is expected to more than triple in as little as one year’s time. 

Fulmer said many of his customers are keen on utilizing multiple infrastructures where it improves their bottom line, “especially for workloads that are burstable.” Bursting from a private to public cloud provides immediate, short-term resources as needed for improved operational efficiency. Online retailers can tap into the scalability of the public cloud for seasonal events like Black Friday, while IT departments can burst up to deploy virtual desktops at volume as needed. 

“The public cloud can have near infinite scalability, so if you need to burst something up, do it,” he said. “If it doesn't need to be on all the time, the economics could make a lot more sense.” 


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Beyond the potential cost-saving efficiencies, a hybridized strategy allows businesses to be agile and adaptive thanks to elastic resources. Fulmer brought up the example of Legal firms using hybrid cloud deployment to quickly onboard hundreds of summer associates. The ability to quickly mobilize workforces is likewise advantageous during corporate mergers and acquisitions. 

“We can spin up those desktops and absorb all those users in a matter of minutes to hours and not days to weeks,” said Fulmer, referring to the scalability of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and desktop as a service (DaaS) capabilities. 

“The expectations for downtime have become so minimal,” he said. “It's not always realistic, but having near zero interruptions to business operations is important.”

Facilitating the Transition to Hybrid Multicloud

A twenty-plus-year veteran, Fulmer has seen data center technology evolve from bulky on-premises servers to the cloud and now to hybrid multicloud infrastructure. He got his start answering the phone part-time at an IT services company in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in the early 2000s. One hectic workday, a short-staffed manager sent the noob on assignment out of desperation. His orders were to stall until an engineer could get there. 

“I ended up fixing the problem,” he said. “I just kind of … figured it out. I looked in the event log. Just some basic stuff I’d done troubleshooting my own computer to get Napster to work.” Fulmer soon became a system administrator, then trained to become an engineer. 


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Fulmer now designs technical infrastructure for businesses along the Amtrak corridor, including dozens of the nation’s top AmLaw 100 and 200 law firms. For the first part of his career, many of his customers balked at the cloud, preferring to keep their data on premises.

“There was no inherent benefit to the customer seeing blinking lights, but they wanted an element of control,” he said. “They needed to feel like they knew where the data was, that they were in control of it, that it wasn't leaving the walls of the building.”

This mentality was entrenched among his more conservative customers: then, the pandemic hit. As businesses’ IT departments rushed to update their technology, they dabbled with integrating hybrid cloud technologies. Some were initially drawn to the benefit of a secondary site for disaster recovery. Next, they spun up an Azure instance or employed a cloud-based authentication platform. 

“The pandemic was a game changer for organizations,” said Fulmer. “I know for us, and for what we are seeing from our customers, it really accelerated public cloud adoption.”

Fulmer believes the acceleration of remote and hybrid work has contributed to hybrid multicloud adoption. He sees value in companies moving their data closer to where their employees reside through a mix of on-prem servers and public cloud services.

“More and more, companies want to get out of their local geography for their data,” said Fulmer. “It's beneficial to them to have that data diverse and accessible within multiple regions.” 

Though companies have traditionally sought to centralize their data, according to Fulmer, those who work remotely are increasingly desiring efficient access to locally stored data. For example, one client previously traveled coast to coast for large file reads and writes. Furthermore, geographic diversity provides organizations with a disaster recovery solution in the event of a manmade or natural disaster. As the world becomes less centralized and the times, more volatile, a hybridized solution eases the transition.  

What’s Next for Optimizing IT Operations

Pegged as the next big, transformative technology, generative AI and machine learning have ignited once standoffish customers’ curiosity.

“It’s a question that we get asked a lot,” said Fulmer, explaining that businesses are eager to learn about how to integrate automated tools into their operations.


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One area where these technologies are already making headway is infrastructure monitoring. Many IT solutions providers, Helient included, have pivoted to FinOps Managed Services for improved visibility into how multiple public clouds are being utilized, helping organizations to reduce cloud sprawl and effectively manage costs. 

AI tools allow organizations to further reduce expenses. Fulmer uses predictive analysis to monitor clients’ infrastructure and sniff out potential issues like a failing drive or storage reaching capacity, diverting system failure and costly downtime.Looking ahead, Fulmer sees potential in using AI tools to crawl large volumes of internal data and run analytics for cost optimizations.

“Some of our organizations have millions of files in large archives that everybody believes are important. Machine learning can report back and tell us, say, 25 percent of that drive hasn't been touched in a decade. That provides justification for moving things off to cheap and deep storage,” he explained. 

Despite the chance of data being misidentified, Fulmer believes most organizations would accept some inaccuracy in exchange for cost optimization within the environment. 

But concerns around privacy and data integrity persist, even as AI tools promise to eventually transform big data into outsize business outcomes.  

“We're still trying to figure out the automated tools organizations would be comfortable allowing into their environment,” said Fulmer. “It's a really valid and timely question.”

Editor’s note: Hear Will Fulmer talk about IT Migration to the Cloud in this Nutanix Cloud Council podcast. Learn more about Nutanix training and certification, the Nutanix Cloud Platform and FinOps solutions for multicloud cost control.

Jason Johnson is a contributing writer. He is a longtime content and copywriter for tech and tech-adjacent businesses. Find him on Linkedin.

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