Even before our worlds were turned upside down by the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, companies were consuming cloud-based services at record levels – but 2020 was the strongest proof point that Cloud technologies work, scale, and are resilient.
Leveraging the Cloud has proved itself extremely valuable in these highly volatile times, and organizations certainly won’t be going back to the old way of doing things. Investments in the Cloud accelerated the ability to fully leverage evolving digital technologies, increasing the impact on business and society.
So how do you optimize your cloud strategy to set your business up for success in this post-Pandemic paradigm? Consider the following focus areas:
Recognize Rapidly Expanding As-a-Service Capabilities
Selecting an application or business process to migrate to a Software-as-a-Service model is a typical first entrance into the world of cloud computing. But there is so much more room to gain efficiencies, save more costs, and fully utilize the value of the cloud. The As-a-Service market will no doubt grow larger and capabilities are becoming more sophisticated. Choosing at least one of these services is obligatory for a cloud strategy, but choosing the right one(s) is a decision that must derive from generating business value. These services transform IT functions and deliver them as a service over the internet, whether it be the:
- Computational, storage, and network flexibility of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
- Custom application development playground that is Platform-as-a-Service (Paas)
- Pay as you go, packaged software model that is Software-as-a-Service (Saas)
- Desktop/Laptop replacement that is Workstation-as-a-Service (Waas)
- Amoeba-like agility of Serverless
Diversify Geographically with Distributed Cloud
Companies found themselves in varying stages of their journey to the cloud when the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic drove demand for enabling new services. Many of these new services require processing large amounts of data in real time and rapid application functionality changes. Investments in Distributed Cloud allow for the rapid spin up of environments and allow for quick, demand-led scaling, both upward and downward. However, wait times associated with round trip data processing to a centralized data center, or even a centralized Cloud environment can be disastrous for current application use cases. The advent of the Internet of Things is literally extending the boundaries of interconnectivity, data creation, and data collection to the customer’s hands. As businesses continue to adapt to meet customers wherever they are, leveraging providers with a geographically distributed offering extends their Cloud capabilities right where the customer needs it and enables data computations at the point of data creation.
Realize the Reality of Disaster Recovery in the Cloud
Safeguarding against the cataclysmic issues that come with power/network outages, cyber attacks, or natural disasters is a bedrock of any successful IT Strategy. The maturation of cloud disaster recovery services has provided an welcomed alternative to traditional disaster recovery approaches. Cloud Disaster Recovery (CDR) addresses the enormous cost and complexity of a sound disaster recovery approach by removing the burden of purchasing and supporting extra infrastructure assets. CDR providers encapsulate all data center components, including production data, onto virtual servers or within a software package eliminating the need for additional hardware or software. These solutions reduce the time required to restore, Recovery Time Objective (RTO), and the point in time available for complete recovery, Recover Point Objective (RPO). We should not lose site of the implications that available network bandwidth and data retention will have as companies contemplate CDR. But envisioning an technology strategy that delivers an uninterrupted experience to employees and customers should consider the reality of CDR.
Be Proactive Against New Security Threats
Cyber security remains an ongoing focus as threat sources evolve, and the business response to the COVID-19 Pandemic expanded the focus for IT security leaders. These leaders must consider the strains that a highly mobile, remote workforce brings into the enterprise. Security strategies must expand to include End User Computing Security, Home Network Security, and Digital Leak Protection. Introducing Cloud Services into an enterprise IT environment can also bring under the radar considerations such as:
- Technical debt caused by accelerated digital transformation efforts
- Assessing security boundaries of service providers and the broadened threat footprint
- Automated security and vulnerability testing
Close the Workforce Skills Gap
A growing hinderance to implementing a cohesive cloud strategy is the lack of resources with the requisite skills to design, implement, and operate cloud technologies. This skills gap is a threat to digital transformation and the continued proliferation of cloud services. Gone are the days of IT organizations siloed into territorial fiefdoms filled with expert individual contributors. More certified expertise across a breadth of vendor technologies is required to keep pace. IT personnel must possess a dexterous skill set to fulfill these new customer demands in an agile manner. Hiring, training, and retention strategies must keep pace with an evolving pool of emerging skills and digital proficiencies in areas such as:
- Server & Application Orchestration
- Cyber Security / Embedded Security
- Cloud Service Provider technologies (AWS, Microsoft, Google)
Evolve the key drivers in your Cloud Strategy to pay Large Dividends
Post-Pandemic investments in digital transformative technologies will no doubt continue to increase to accommodate a hybrid workforce, new business models, and increased customer expectations. Worldwide end-user spend on public cloud services is forecasted to grow by 18.4% according to a recent Gartner report. Companies are now realizing 4:1 ROI and 2.5:1 reduction in deployment time as compared to on-premise solutions. To realize these potential gains a great cloud strategy must be ever evolving to meet the performance, availability, scalability, agility, and operational requirements of this new digital transformation age. Zeroing in on key business and technological drivers such as cost takeout, simplification, operation efficiency, agility, and scale remains essential. In addition, with the proliferation of data in today’s paradigm companies must also consider how the cloud can improve how data is collected, curated, transported, transformed, and stored.
A post-Pandemic Cloud Strategy will continue to transform with the increased demand for services and the mobility of today’s workforce. Spend time assessing these new considerations and develop your own point of view to increase the resiliency and agility of your approach.