Let’s start with the basics: Why do enterprises move to the cloud, or a multicloud model? For most, it’s to access flexible, scalable, secure infrastructure without operational burdens.
But the move is a big commitment. And it’s not easy. There are design, migration, and implementation considerations along with the post-migration needs for ongoing management, support, and optimization. All of this is why, prior to the pandemic, many enterprises were stuck in their data center.
Amid the early days of the pandemic, enterprises quickly discovered that the best route to accommodating new ways of working, learning, shopping, and operating is outside their own DC. And as it continues to prove its ability to perform under pressure, recent surveys indicate that enterprises are looking at the cloud as more than just a way to manage a crisis.
According to Flexera’s State of the Cloud survey, over half of organizations polled expect to significantly increase their cloud usage because of successes during the COVID-19 crisis. But getting the full benefit requires more than just shifting workloads. It’s about putting the right workloads in the right environment for optimal performance and efficiency.
For enterprises that have been on the fence, the time to act is now. By maintaining the status quo, they’ll miss a prime opportunity to transform. But, a haphazard move to address immediate concerns could cause lasting negative implications. Some consideration must be given to the processes involved.
Be selective and intentional
Though the goal is to move quickly, enterprises still need to be selective and intentional about how and where they shift resources. Not all applications or workloads are created equal. Some are static, and a private cloud could be the best fit for those. Others, due to spiky processing or scaling needs, should be on a public cloud. Making these assessments and decisions is the first step in a successful transition.
For enterprises that charged into the cloud to manage pandemic-related needs, the next critical step is to reevaluate workloads to verify that they are best served in their current environment. If you quickly moved several of your applications and data into a private cloud a few months ago, you may be finding that, as things normalize, some of those resources perform better in a public cloud or multicloud environment.
According to the Flexera report, there are a good number of organizations currently using four or more clouds. For that reason, I expect to see an uptick in adoption of SaaS products, like cloud-based productivity apps to support remote working and home schooling. This multicloud patchwork will evolve to become the ideal end-state. As competitive pressure increases and uncertainty lingers, multicloud gives companies the advantage of always using the right cloud for the right workload.
There’s another scenario that we saw play out quite frequently during the pandemic. During quarantine restrictions and shelter-in-place orders, many enterprises with data centers or legacy ERP applications faced access challenges as they struggled to get employees onsite to manage these systems. This, combined with the historic pain of labor-intensive management requirements, has helped many enterprises see the long-term value in the cloud’s ability to support business continuity.
These pandemic-related experiences will further pressure enterprises to accelerate cloud initiatives. As they attempt to accelerate the transition to the cloud, I see challenges stemming from expertise gaps in both skills and resources.
- Skills gaps: Organizations within industries that historically aren’t as cloud-forward, or that have heavy security or governance-related requirements, will often struggle with a lack of in-house expertise required to migrate, manage and operate enterprise-grade multicloud environments. Trying to quickly re-skill or recruit to fill those gaps can slow down a project or introduce errors related to inexperience.
- Resource gaps: Enterprises with the proper in-house skill sets may still lack the sheer horsepower to execute the migration governance, security and optimization activities required to be successful in the desired timeframe. Faced with a crisis, organizations may have critical applications that need to be made cloud-ready, yet they lack the resources to quickly scale up.
During the COVID-19 crisis, these gaps became painfully obvious. There’s no simple way to refactor an application. But with the pressure to accelerate, leaders are pushing teams to react faster to volatile business conditions. Multicloud environments give organizations a full plate of options and the flexibility to quickly adjust when needed.
Plotting the right path to the cloud under pressure
In order to move quickly and efficiently, shift the operational excellence, due diligence and governance methodologies applied to data centers to the cloud. Let your compliance, security and workload performance needs guide your choices. For most organizations, that might mean a multicloud solution. Though a single cloud might be construed as easier to manage, the question is, can it drive the results you need? Does it come with other inherent risks, like security, cost overages and performance constraints?
By balancing cloud solutions, you’ll be able to properly accommodate individual workloads, instead of force-fitting everything on a single platform that can’t serve all workloads equally. Adding cloud for cloud’s sake will leave many businesses with technical debt and ill-fitting solutions long after the COVID-19 crisis is over. But those businesses that act rationally in the midst of irrational times will likely find themselves better able to focus on delivering exceptional customer experiences and to adapt quickly when faced with a crisis.