The cloud is coming whether you embrace it or not
Around the world, digital is becoming the fuel of success for businesses and governments.
Our lives – work and personal – have been transformed.
Whether it’s collaborating with colleagues or interacting with friends and family, shopping for groceries or using take-away restaurants, schooling for our children or seeking heath check-ups or entertainment on Netflix – everything depends on connectivity and applications to an extent never seen before.
In short, we’ve taken a giant step towards an app-driven, digital-first future, towards the ability for people – be they consumers or employees – to be able to access any app, securely, on any device they might want to use.
The pace of this change will not slow down.
The cloud is here to help
People, and by extension companies, understand and appreciate the multiple possibilities offered by cloud.
Those who think they can take their foot off the pedal, who think they don’t need to enable remote work or contactless interactions, will quickly become irrelevant.
And it’s the cloud – whether it’s private, public, hybrid, Edge, or even a combination of all in a multi-cloud world – that will help accelerate this path, driving the success and speed of app development and deployment.
Yet, despite all the obvious benefits of the cloud, only a third of EU companies have chosen it.
What is holding them back?
There are a variety of reasons, from ensuring data security and addressing data sovereignty and accessibility, to choosing the cloud, cloud interoperability, reversibility, lock in, and security.
At the same time, cloud adoption is set to grow significantly according to Gartner: “global end-user spending on public cloud services alone is set to grow by 18.4% in 2021 to a total of 304.9 billion dollars, compared to 257.5 billion in 2020.”
In Italy, according to the report of the Cloud Transformation Observatory (X edition) promoted by the School of Management of the Politecnico di Milano, the cloud market in 2020 reached $3.34 billion.
So, the cloud, and through it an app-first world, is coming, whether companies embrace it or not.
The message is clear: Companies that don’t want to be left behind must overcome their fears and address their concerns.
The question is: how?
Data: the value and the challenge
First, it’s worth going back to the raw fuel that underlies it all: data.
We’ve all heard about how we are generating more and more data every day, how the volumes of information are growing exponentially.
Furthermore, the technologies that are helping to make sense of the volumes of data we all produce – big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence – must all be able to do their job at scale.
The cloud is a key part of extracting the value of data. It provides the scalability needed to transform data into intelligence and insight.
But, more than that, decisions about the type of cloud that companies use are inextricably linked to the types of data they own or use.
“I think one of the most challenging tasks for any company that wants to move to the cloud is to have a clear understanding of the various types of data they are responsible for, and what they want to do with that data,” suggests Sylvain Rouri, Chief Sales Officer, OVH.
Apps and cloud – build and deploy
And what is turning that data into something tangible?
Apps – the DNA of an organization’s competitive advantage.
These apps need to be available at the right time, in the right place, on the right devices, completely secure and fully accessible.
This means deploying them in a cloud that provides the appropriate environment for app needs, while maintaining the ability to move apps as requirements change.
Basically, it’s about understanding your app needs and choosing the cloud that meets that demand.
But there’s more to the relationship between apps and the cloud than delivering them correctly.
“It’s all about speed, it’s about how fast you can go to market,” says Louise Ostrom, global lead at Accenture VMware Business Group.
Can this be done internally in organizations?
While theoretically possible, the scalability, speed and capabilities required would confuse even the largest of enterprises.
Ostrom says, “You can’t find or build the tools and services you get from the cloud yourself.”
What is stopping companies?
While we;ve established that apps and cloud enablement are at the heart of business success, the question remains: what’s holding companies back?
Salvatore Cassara, Chief Information Officer of SGB-SMIT, a German-based power transformer manufacturer serving customers in more than 50 countries, says one of the biggest challenges companies face is not just about technology, but also the presence of the right people and processes.
This is “because their team structure was probably not the right one. It hasn’t been developed enough to bring the right knowledge and attitude to support the cloud.”
Moving to the cloud is not simply a case of “lift and shift”.
Historically, a lot of what we’ve done in IT has revolved around a re-platform – moving everything from mainframes to mini-computers to micro-processors to virtualization.
So it’s not surprising that many have taken this attitude with the cloud, such as when they need to move from an on-premises data center to a cloud.
It’s only when they’re taken by surprise by the costs, such as the increase in network traffic, that they realize moving everything to the cloud is not necessarily the right thing to do.
If the processes mentioned by Salvatore Cassara aren’t in place, and the right people aren’t there, then migration won’t solve the underlying problems – it will only move them to the cloud.
“Moving the problem from one platform to another is not an answer,” said Gavin Joliffe, CEO of independent cloud consulting and managed services firm Xtravirt.
When we talk about the cloud, we’re actually talking about a whole range of activities, from running on-prem applications in your data center, through software-as-a-service and public clouds, to highly distributed cloud edges.
This proliferation brings with it complexity: A VMware study found that 63% of organizations point to inconsistencies between clouds as one of the main challenges of multi-cloud.
So, is there a way to overcome all these concerns?
Complexity, risk and TCO can all be reduced through a single platform optimized for all apps that can also be used in all clouds, from private to hyperscaler, utilizing consistent infrastructures and operations.
Businesses need a fast and easy path to the cloud, and the flexibility to choose any cloud.
Organizations can match each app’s needs to the optimal cloud, with the freedom to use the most powerful cloud services and app modernization.
They’re also able to deploy migration to the cloud when and as they see fit, rather than having to move everything.
IHS Markit is a company that makes its business easier thanks to the cloud.
According to Ben Tanner, director of cloud enablement, the cloud has enabled IHS Markit to “fundamentally transform the way we manage IT”.
He adds, “We can get out of our legacy data centers and bring all of our workloads to the cloud without disruption. It allows us to rapidly use the infrastructure incrementally.”
The cloud conversation isn’t about the cloud: it’s about business
And what does all this lead us to?
The fact that it is wrong to see things either black or white, one or the other.
The conversation about whether businesses need to be in the cloud shouldn’t be about cloud computing, but about business, focusing on apps and data.
What applications will we need in the future?
What data will we need in the future?
Where should this data be?
Where should it be processed?
Where should the results be read?
Once you’ve discovered and determined what the roadmap should be for your applications, it will guide the choice of requirements for your environments and infrastructure.
This could – and indeed, in most cases will – push you to the cloud.
And this in turn will allow you to make sure you’re choosing the right cloud and the right cloud services to support the business you’re running.
Edited by Joe Baguley, VP and CTO EMEA, VMware. This article has been written in collaboration with BitMAT