Understanding UK cloud adoption strategies

Last week, as part of London Technology Week, we held a breakfast panel discussion looking at cloud adoption strategies and overcoming cloud security and compliance challenges.

Industry experts from Cisco, techUK, Behind Every Cloud, as well as cloud users joined us to discuss and explore adoption strategies for ensuring success. In particular, we wanted to understand what is working in the UK and what is not. What are companies aiming to achieve, and where are they in their cloud adoption journeys?

Simon Herbert from Cisco kicked off the discussion by saying that companies will undoubtedly be at different stages but what is important is to understand the priorities and desired outcomes for the business. Simon went on to say that it’s about understanding where you are and where you need to be and developing a cloud adoption strategy in line with this. In Simon’s eyes moving to the cloud is not simply flicking a switch, it is about having a more considered approach.

Sue Daley from techUK wholeheartedly agreed and said that at techUK they are focused on helping organisations optimise cloud and make the most out of their cloud investment. Sue went on to say that here in the UK we have a very vibrant cloud computing market with lots of opportunities to use cloud and a strong appetite amongst UK businesses.

Sue talked about the six key areas in techUK’s Cloud 20/20 vision aimed at keeping the UK at the forefront of cloud adoption. These are enabling data portability and system interoperability within the cloud computing ecosystem, building trust in the security of cloud services, making sure that we have the right regulatory environment to support cloud, while addressing the culture change that cloud brings. Another key area in the 20/20 vision is to ensure effective public sector adoption, and lastly making sure that here in the UK there is a communications infrastructure that is ready for mass cloud adoption.

Ray Bricknell from Behind Every Cloud talked about the fact that many of the companies he works with are mid-tier financial services companies who are not ‘born in the cloud’ and therefore not adopting cloud as quickly as you would expect. He said that often there is a mandate from the CEO to move everything to the cloud but the reality is that many of these organisations are still at early stages. They are trying to figure out which workloads to prioritise and who they should work with, often driven by a specific project rather than a big bang approach.

Krisztian Kenderesi from Bluestone Financial Services Group, an iland customer, agreed and said that often the cloud decision is not an IT decision but a business one. He went on to say that Bluestone is using iland’s Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service and again that was driven by a specific need at the time.

As a panel we discussed some of the barriers to adoption and why some companies are not using cloud. Without a doubt data privacy, data protection, security and compliance are some of the main reasons. Ray suggested that one of the biggest barriers is a perception issue around cloud. He went on to say that it is an urban myth that cloud is cheaper but when an organisation compares the security, scalability and availability that is available with the right cloud solution, the costs of achieving this themselves become prohibitively expensive.

Krisztian replied that at Bluestone they were motivated by cost saving initiatives as well as a ‘cloud-first’ mentality. He also went on to say that by using a DRaaS provider like iland a company could reduce overall in-house costs by 40 per cent and achieve much better recovery points.

The conversation moved on to managing the cloud. Ray said that many of the companies he has worked with often don’t expect the move to the cloud to involve such a big management task to integrate information from multiple cloud solutions. He commented that a lot of vendors don’t want to tell you what is going on under the hood and how important it is to have transparency with your cloud provider. Sue stated that interoperability and data portability in the cloud ecosystem are growing issues being discussed.

The panel concluded by summing up what IT leaders should look for when transitioning to cloud. Transparency and visibility are key. Shadow IT is prevalent and therefore interoperability and compliance with other vendors need to be considered. Also, with imminent data protection changes around liability and data controls, this will introduce a lot more data protection requirements. We all agreed that when cloud becomes more strategic you need a much more open and trusted relationship with multiple providers, whereas when it is ad hoc, it doesn’t matter so much if the provider you work with is more proprietary.

Where security is concerned, the online threat environment is constantly evolving and therefore again you need an open and trusted relationship with your cloud service provider in order to constantly adjust to new threats. At the same time, providers must tell their customers of any issues or breaches so that they are correctly dealt with at the time.

And finally, it is highly unlikely that an organisation will work with just one provider, most companies will spread their risk across multiple vendors which is why visibility into the service is absolutely key.

Monica Brink, Director of Marketing for EMEA, iland

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