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Assess and adapt: Cloud computing in 2021

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Ekaphone maneechot)

We have witnessed how the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation priorities to mobilize workforces, facilitate collaboration, and ensure business continuity. In combatting challenges that accompany new priorities, IT departments across the globe are continuing their search for the right solutions. 

According to the 2021 Gartner Board of Directors Survey, 69 percent of corporate directors want to accelerate enterprise digital strategies and implementations to help deal with the ongoing disruption of the pandemic. In our own recent Cloud Impact Study, respondents highlight cloud computing as an essential component in minimizing disruption. Aptum’s study also finds that 99 percent of respondents acknowledge the cloud as essential to overall organizational success, and 89 percent characterize it as necessary for business continuity. 

Cloud computing has been the CIOs best friend in 2020, and as we move into the new year the emphasis on resilience, continuity and responsiveness in cloud investments will not disappear.

DRaaS adoption will be driven by the need for business resilience 

Bandwidth and latency issues created by surges in traffic are no longer a periphery concern for CIOs. Application outages such as the recent ones from Microsoft Outlook and Teams have put these problems firmly on the map. With entire workforces becoming remote all over the world, it is essential to ensure the same standards of business continuity exist for employees while they are away from corporate facilities.

While most organizations have a disaster recovery plan in place for data protection, data retention, and fast deployments, many have only recently undergone their first test. Several months after the trial-by-fire, businesses can now readjust and confront the gaps in their business continuity and disaster recovery (DR) plans. As a result, companies will consider end-to-end solutions and adopt disaster recovery as a service to future-proof access to data. 

Robust and flexible DR is a cornerstone of business assurance. Typically, DR strategies utilize distributed cloud resources to create new platforms that support business applications, so organizations aren’t entirely reliant upon one platform. Sophisticated Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) goes a step further, replicating and hosting virtual servers in the cloud to provide failover in the case of any incidents occurring, ensuring full protection of data. 

Demand for multi-cloud and hybrid infrastructure will grow

Many organizations are reassessing where they are hosting certain workloads to optimise IT budgets and increase business agility and resilience. As a result, more than half will embrace a hybrid approach to their cloud infrastructure for greater agility as highlighted in Aptum’s Cloud Impact Study: more 59 percent of organizations plan to decrease their on-premise infrastructure in the next 18-24 months; the same percentage of companies expect to put more infrastructure into the public cloud, while an even higher proportion (66 percent) plan to expand their private cloud workloads.

In 2021, businesses will seek assistance in determining the right infrastructure, where applications and workloads would be best suited, and what tools should be adopted to optimize those environments. Picking a managed service provider (MSP) with a range of network services and management options ensures data and applications can interact across environments with high performance and security requirements.

Cloud Management Platforms will become a necessity to enable agility 

As a result of the complexities that may arise from hybrid-cloud or multi-cloud adoption and ongoing economic restraints due to the pandemic, insights into the effectiveness of workloads in different cloud environments will become essential. Subsequently, the demand for Cloud Management Platforms (CMP) is expected to surge in popularity. Investing in a comprehensive CMP gives businesses visibility and access to real-time information on the cost and performance of all cloud services across multiple ecosystems to enable greater agility. 

Agility is crucial for companies to continue to deliver uninterrupted service to customers while visibility is key for security. If one of those resources is misconfigured or deployed with sensitive information and left unmanaged, security and compliance can be exceedingly difficult   to achieve. As cybercriminals move to take advantage of hybrid and multi-cloud users’ blind spots, knowing the location of all crucial data and having controls in place to protect that data is critical. 

In the pursuit of organizational agility, a CMP will help improve the cloud experience by removing complexity and giving customers real-time visibility into cloud resources and configurations.  Its automation operations measure the performance of cloud assets, identify cost saving opportunities, efficiently deliver templates for speed and consistency, avoid error in deployment, roll out repeatable workflows to lower levels of effort and control data sovereignty, costs and the overall lifespan of resources.

Businesses will harness data as infrastructure 

Data as infrastructure is the concept that data is at the foundation of every organization and is as important as physical infrastructure. As organizations seek deeper insights to enable business resiliency, efficiency, and continuity, the value in approaching data as infrastructure on both a conceptual and practical level will increase. 

Research from McKinsey confirms the benefit of this methodology. Data-driven companies are 23 times more likely to acquire a customer, 6 times more likely to retain that customer, and 19 times more likely to be profitable as a result. This approach will lead companies toward a cloud solution tailored to their data needs and encourage them to take extra steps to optimize data usage.

As companies face the exponential growth of data, the choice of technology infrastructure is critical to harness its power and unlock the potential of data in order to maximize business outcomes and technology investments. 

Data is vital to decision making, profitability, productivity, and impacts many other drivers for business success. Focusing on these drivers when formulating a cloud computing strategy will give companies a platform to build upon to achieve their desired outcomes. 

As the world continues an expedited digital transformation journey, there lies limitless opportunities for the IT industry. Cloud computing will continue to power our readjusted world, and the technologies that consolidate the position of the cloud as the enabler of continuity will play a bigger role in 2021.

Grant Duxbury, Director, Pre-Sales Engineering, Aptum

Grant Duxbury is Director of Pre-Sales Engineering at Aptum.