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Australia’s hybrid workplace is taking shape as hybrid cloud investment increases

Australia’s hybrid workplace is taking shape as hybrid cloud investment increases

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Lee Thompson, Managing Director at Nutanix A/NZ, tells us how we are witnessing the birth of the ‘hybrid workplace’ at the same time as more than 40% of Australian organizations are increasing their hybrid cloud investment.

Lee Thompson, Managing Director at Nutanix A/NZ

We have a habit of very quickly getting used to, and then becoming dependent on, new things we had never needed until that point – mobile phones, the Internet and social media for example. 

More recently, we’ve started to depend on a whole new way of working. Working from home was initially mandated due to the pandemic but has already become a permanent fixture in many workplaces.  

Nutanix conducted research recently that showed only one percent of Australian enterprises expect a full return to the office this year, and just 2% by 2022 when the pandemic is (hopefully) behind us.

This trend is backed by influential industry leaders, including Australian tech darling Atlassian, which has boldly said all its staff can work from anywhere, forever, and Coca-Cola Group Managing Director Alison Watkins warning against businesses favoring people working in the office over remote. 

Further, the survey also showed Australia is well ahead of the rest of the world in its aspiration to continue work-from-home, with 8% of organizations globally expecting a full office return this year – eight times more than Australia. 

It is important to note the word ‘full’ here, as the data also makes it clear that very few respondents expect to not return to the office at all. What we’re witnessing here is the birth of the hybrid workplace, and that means we need to move from our current state of ‘we can get work done at home’ to ‘we can be a fully operational business from anywhere’. 

A new role for technology

We owe it all to technology for enabling this sudden transition. Without collaborative tools such as Teams, Zoom, Slack, and – despite the on-going debate – a stable broadband network in the NBN, this would not have been possible. Our economy could be in tatters, rather than having just bounced out of the recession with the strongest quarter of economic growth in 45 years. 

As a result, more than three quarters (78%) of Australian businesses surveyed now view IT as more strategic to the business in light of the pandemic, again ahead of global counterparts. This renewed relevance is causing business leaders to pay more attention to what’s happening in the IT department and demand more from it. 

So, to develop a fully operational hybrid workplace and workforce, and meet these new expectations, we need to go a level deeper in how we think about and use technology. Businesses need to create the right ‘engine’ to power it. 

That engine is cloud – already a prominent feature of our personal and business lives, driving everything from our Google searches, apps on our smartphones and even gaming. Cloud is fast becoming the environment that supports enterprises, with the industry tipped to pass US$1 billion this year as organizations seek a replacement to outdated, inefficient and difficult-to-manage computer rooms. 

Hybrid engine for a hybrid workforce 

The Nutanix research shows a particular type of cloud is needed to drive the new hybrid workplace – fittingly, hybrid cloud. This combines public cloud and private cloud through software and a condensed version of the aforementioned computing room. This can exist either on a company’s premises or in one of the many colocation data centers being built across Australia.

Over 40% of Australian organizations are increasing their hybrid cloud investment as they aim to solve new challenges, including getting the right technology support to remote workers, and securing their access to critical applications and data while working from anywhere. 

Hybrid cloud ensures that critical data can be kept within a company’s own network, not in the public cloud which can transcend sovereign borders and become victim to cyberattacks against public cloud providers, one of the biggest targets for opportunistic attackers. This is vital, particularly as the Government sharpens its focus on cybersecurity.

With that data kept local, secure, and cost-controlled, businesses can more easily provide access to it for remote workers.

Public cloud then steps in for companies needing extra capacity beyond their own limits quickly, which could include deploying a new IT-intensive application, something that will become more important as investment in emerging technologies like 5G and IoT continues. 

If we are to succeed in achieving our grandest technology ambitions and create a hybrid workplace that fully enables a remote workforce, we can’t rely on an engine built for decades gone (the old computing room) or one that is prohibitively costly and carries inherent security risks when used alone (public cloud). 

We’re already ahead of the rest of the world in our ambitions for the workforce and workplace of the future – now we need to put the right keystone in place to turn our vision into global leadership for a new economy. 

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