Sustaining cloud success in New Normal

To say that the pandemic accelerated digital adoption and digital transformation is an understatement. Tejas Patel, Managing Director, Technology Strategy & Advisory, Growth Markets, Accenture, shares his views about cloud computing take up, with Enterprise IT News.

EITN: Have there been more successful cloud implementations during Covid? Which cloud strategy was the most successful?

Tejas: The pandemic has certainly bolstered the speed and size of cloud deployments over the past year. In fact, 2020 could well be christened the golden age of the cloud. Whether these cloud deployments have all been “successful”, however, is still up for debate.

Over the past year, firms were scrambling as the livelihoods and safety of people were threatened. This meant IT teams were speeding through cloud deployments to achieve various business enablement scenarios such as supporting a remote workforce at a large scale. For many firms, the need to innovate at speed has put them three to five years ahead of their original cloud deployment goals.

The downside is that the urgency to achieve business enablement scenarios may not have allowed firms enough time to adequately plan for and maximise the value of their initiatives. Even before COVID-19 hit, we noted that a number of organisations in the region had yet to fully outline their cloud strategies.  Our research revealed that nearly two thirds of firms had yet to achieve the cloud benefits they expected and this was seen across four categories: cost, speed to market, business enablement, and service levels.

EITN: Please share about the various cloud strategies and the reason why an organisation chooses one over the other. Does the level of regulation in an industry play a role in the strategy that is chosen?

Tejas: Which cloud strategy is best would depend on each organisation’s unique business needs and goals. Although adopting a hybrid model does offer several compelling advantages, it can never be a one-size-fits-all solution.

And while we typically do see cloud strategies as being divided into public, private and hybrid, we are occasionally seeing a multi-cloud environment being leveraged – somewhat similar to a hybrid cloud environment but using multiple public clouds to host data and applications versus combining private and public clouds.

Across APAC, the public cloud model is probably the most dominant cloud model currently due to ease of use, and lower initial investment required. A fully public cloud model is another great option for times when internal resources are limited.

Private clouds still make a lot of sense for firms operating under strict compliance and security requirements. This includes the likes of financial institutes or government agencies. Beyond the added privacy and security, leveraging a private cloud also means one has more flexibility in customising the environment to specific requirements. Private clouds also tend to handle bandwidth-intensive applications better as they are processed on-premise which means lower latencies and an overall better performance.

The hybrid model is theoretically a best of both worlds approach that combines the advantages of private and public cloud environments. This is usually the optimal approach except in situations where security requirements do not allow for it, or if budgets and internal IT resources are limited.

Edge computing is yet another option for applications that require reduced latency and bandwidth usage.

EITN: Have you found organisations already on a cloud journey, having to change their strategies during the pandemic? If yes, why so?

Tejas: There is a good chance that firms already on a cloud journey would have had to shake things up considerably due to the pandemic. For example, even firms who were already building out capabilities to support remote staff would likely not have planned to have to do so on the scale we are seeing today. There would be increased reliance on the public cloud to run critical applications for enabling various work scenarios. Plans to integrate existing legacy infrastructure and reduce application sprawl may have been somewhat delayed.

The rapid shift to the cloud could have also had an impact on security postures. Migrating to and operating in the cloud is a far more secure proposition than operating on-premise, especially for companies that lack the resources to invest in home-grown security capabilities. If faced with a need to scale back or rejig infrastructure, plans for handling security and compliance would also have to be reviewed.

In current times, we expect that firms would be starting to think about the next stage in cloud deployment – optimising their cloud infrastructure and maximising the value generated. This could mean less expansion of infrastructure moving forward.

Organisations across the world would likely have also had to think about bringing forward or super-charging plans to re-skill employees to allow them to make the best use of cloud-native environments.

EITN: Overall, how are companies adapting to the pandemic, and how do you foresee their technology strategies panning out, as the whole world slowly moves towards some semblance of stability?

Tejas: The firms that did jump on the cloud bandwagon relatively early on in the pandemic would have achieved some form of competitive advantage through the first mover advantage. However, sustaining that success is now about optimising their cloud transformation journey. This is especially key now as having recently passed the one-year anniversary of the advent of COVID-19, it is becoming apparent that there will be no returning to pre-COVID-19 business models.

For firms to optimise their transformation journey there are four key areas they should be looking at –

  • Identifying the business needs of the organisation and anchoring a cloud strategy to meet these goals that is focused on maximising business value.
  • Managing the culture of the firm and equipping staff with new operating best practices and skillsets to allow them to adapt to working in a “cloud-first” environment.
  • Unlocking greater value from data and intelligence that may be trapped within legacy systems through the use of cloud data models.
  • Leveraging the skills and expertise of their cloud partners. Leaning on them for help can augment a firm’s owned capabilities.

Ultimately, firms must adopt what are fundamentally new ways of working, adopt new operating models, and develop new skills and roles to become “cloud-first” organisations that can innovate faster. The main goal is to create differentiated and more importantly, sustained, value through their cloud deployments.