Just when companies are finally mastering the definition of hybrid clouds, Accenture claims there is a new paradigm on the horizon.

It predicts the next wave of hybrid clouds will be "Intelligent Business Clouds." And that's more than some vague marketing idea — or so it claims.

In a new report released by Accenture recently, it describes these new hybrid deployments as a way of working and combing multiple clouds and multiple vendors to offer highly adaptable applications to manage context-rich data as well and flexible IT infrastructure. 

Getting Smarter

The move to intelligent business clouds is just the latest step in the transformation of businesses into digital business, Marshall Wells, managing director in Accenture’s IT Strategy group told us when we asked about this development.

From Accenture’s perspective, a digital business achieves success through technologies that offer speed, agility and integration with existing technologies. Most companies at the moment are at a place where they're able to use multiple clouds, he said.

They use public clouds for certain things, virtualization for others. But they still haven't reached the point of true hybrid solutions. What you need for a hybrid cloud, he explained, "is a certain amount of interoperability, portability or other capabilities, where you can use simultaneously use a private cloud and a public cloud."

To a large extent, enterprises haven’t really thought through their hybrid cloud strategies, he said. The first step of moving beyond hybrid to intelligent hybrid is planning the process.

A cornerstone of this perspective is the push for “capital light” financial structures: a move away from administration-heavy capital outlays and toward small, flexible, controllable operating spend. 

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What Enterprises Should Do

1. Go Cloud

Adopt cloud computing as the new normal.

2. Rearchitect

Move from the current thinking of building applications for everything to consuming applications from a cloud services provider.

3. Focus on Business Outcomes

Focus on the business value generated by cloud applications rather than on the technology itself. Give priority to applications that offer the best business returns.

4. Hire the Right People

Assemble a skilled team of people to develop hybrid computing.

Connective Business Tissue

In the report, Realizing The Potential of The Intelligent Business Cloud, Accenture calls intelligent business clouds the "connective tissue" that will drive business outcomes.

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"It means not just doing things differently, but finding entirely new ways to increase the value of every customer experience and business interaction,” Wells said.

The move towards intelligent hybrids will be driven by the ongoing move by vendors to provide software as a service rather than as applications to be downloaded.

Increasingly, vendors like SAP, Microsoft and Oracle will deliver their products as a service, which will also offer organizations the possibly of avoiding the vendor lock in that has forced many to suffer in silence with legacy stacks rather than dynamic and agile cloud services.

However, it’s not all as straightforward as a simplistic ‘proprietary bad, cloud good’ argument. There are clearly a lot of issues around this that will cause enterprises problems. too.

What is going to be required for this iteration[of cloud computing] is a panel or a control plain that spans multiple clouds and allows you to have visibility as well as the management across those clouds. We are investing [and building] capabilities that will allow of that governance and control of these clouds," Wells said.

These kind of clouds also require effective procedures and standards that are applied across all cloud resources as well as strong security and governance capacities to ensure all the data and information that is in the different clouds that are associated with each other is secure.

While a precise timeline for the development of the business intelligent cloud is vague, Wells says that it its development is already underway. In the meantime, dialogue around intelligent business clouds needs to focus as much on business outcomes as IT. The discussion now, more than ever, needs to move beyond IT departments and across the entire enterprise.