Let’s be honest, the benefits of the cloud are well known. And if you didn’t already know them, the pandemic has done a very good job of ensuring businesses around the world not only understand the advantages of cloud, but have in fact been forced to accelerate their cloud migration journeys.
As a result, enterprise spending on cloud infrastructure services saw a huge increase of 33 percent to $33 billion in the third quarter of 2020 alone, during the height of the pandemic.
One of the biggest challenges for businesses when it comes to cloud, however, is understanding the different options available to them and which best addresses their organization’s needs. If they get it wrong, then they risk failing to realize cloud’s immense potential.
The three most common models for cloud consumption - public, private and hybrid cloud - are often talked about like the three musketeers of cloud computing. Each has its own specialist benefits, but it’s when they are brought together in a multi-cloud environment that we see their true power.
This flexible approach to the cloud, which allows organizations to choose from a variety of cloud environments based on what best suits their needs, is all about taking customers on an adventure. It delivers peace of mind because it addresses the challenges of handling growth in volumes of data, allows them to rapidly scale to support innovation and fluctuations in demand, and enforces a proactive stance on issues like privacy, security and compliance. The sudden disruption caused by the onset of the pandemic only highlighted the value of an agile and adaptable cloud infrastructure, especially when it comes to ensuring business continuity and resiliency in a period of unpredictable volatility.
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Finding an ally in the cloud
Cloud has been absolutely integral to facilitating home working. For example, for sectors such as healthcare, its ability to integrate new remote working solutions was crucial in getting 5,000 GPs, clinicians and frontline healthcare workers in the UK set up to work remotely in a matter of hours, and is essential to the continued provision of critical care to patients.
But equally, businesses that were behind in their digital transformation journeys, and not yet equipped to deal with a digital-first world – of which there are many – have been exposed. This goes a long way to explain why cloud adoption has accelerated so rapidly in the past 10 months.
While this is great news, businesses shouldn’t be rushing into their cloud migration journeys without careful thought. There’s a lot to consider when there are so many options available and with each organization having its own unique requirements.
A bespoke cloud approach
There is often much debate and confusion about what the different types of cloud computing services involve, what they represent and what they offer. However, there are some simple, key steps businesses can take to identify and build the right solution for them. These include:
- Understanding your workloads: Businesses, and more specifically the IT team tasked with owning their cloud migrations, must assess their organization’s specific requirements and workloads. Questions that should be asked include: What is being moved to the cloud? Which requirements are most important for that workload? For example, does it include sensitive data that need to be well protected with the right cyber security measures, or is it a workload that regularly increases and decreases in size, meaning it would suit a flexible and agile cloud environment? These specific needs can then be cross-referenced against each cloud vendor’s offering to determine suitability, as every cloud excels in some areas, but is outcompeted in others.
- Don’t go it alone: It can be tempting to rush into a cloud migration journey relying only on internal skills. Internal IT teams often have a broad range of knowledge, but they can’t be experts in everything. Cloud journeys can simplified, but these complexities are best approached with the help of third-party expertise from the get-go. Technology partners can not only provide support with the first steps, which includes identifying workloads and assessing their requirements, but can also share their knowledge and expert advice throughout the entire migration process and beyond, ultimately enabling better management across each platform.
- Take your time: Opting for a multi-cloud approach can help to overcome an issue that has put many businesses off moving to the cloud in the past – migrating, or interconnecting, legacy systems. While the process of migrating to the cloud used to be a process of “lift and shift”, that no longer has to be the case. Thanks to hybrid and multi-cloud options, it’s now possible to phase this kind of migration over a period of several months, rather than doing is all in one go. This is a much more attractive proposition for industries and businesses that already have well-established legacy systems, and simply couldn’t change overnight, such as the healthcare sector.
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Enjoying the best of all worlds
These key steps will lead all companies to the realization that one cloud offering cannot meet all of its needs. Or at least not as well as it should. But all is not lost.
Every cloud migration is different. However, the rise of multi-cloud means there is now an appropriate cloud model out there for every business that can indeed meet every need. Instead of choosing just one, companies can pick and choose the best services from different private and public clouds. This offers maximum flexibility, security and agility, while also delivering on each organization’s unique requirements. It also helps explain why multi-cloud adoption grew by 70 percent year-over-year in 2020.
The four musketeers: private, public, hybrid cloud, and you
Most businesses now utilize the cloud in one way or another. There is a long road ahead of them, however, on their journey to cloud fulfilment. The pandemic has certainly compelled many organizations to take the next leap of faith, but the urgency of the situation meant many opted for more of a Blue Peter “sticky tape” approach, in which they simply covered up the cracks with short-term solutions.
Now is the time to change that and ensure the business is prepared to handle long-term disruption, with a long-term cloud strategy that is tailored to help IT teams, as well as the business as a whole, meet their long term transformation goals. So, make 2021 the year you step into your role as the fourth musketeer, alongside private, public and hybrid cloud. After all, the story of the three musketeers, Athos, Porthos and Aramis, wouldn’t have been a success without the fourth, D’Artagnan, to guide the way.
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Jonathan Bridges, Chief Innovation Office, Exponential-e