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To reach cloud nine, will you take the red pill or the blue pill?

Red pill blue pill
(Image credit: Flickr / tom_bullock)

With the fourth installment of the movie “The Matrix” scheduled for this year, viewers will once again enter a new world, where they will need to choose their own reality. In the original 1999 movie, Neo is offered the choice between a red pill and a blue pill. The red pill represents an uncertain future, and it would allow him to escape into the real world. While the blue pill would lead him back to ignorance, living in confined comfort. 

The shift to remote work at the start of the pandemic became a catalyst for businesses, which are now facing a similar conundrum when it comes to their cloud automation journey – causing “blue pill or red pill” decisions to take place overnight. By choosing the blue pill the company will want to migrate its IT infrastructure to the cloud without making significant changes to its current IT architecture — while this solves some key operational problems, it comes at a cost and leaves many opportunities untapped. Businesses that choose the red pill recognize that the benefits of cloud can only be achieved by radically changing their way of working. 

So, which pill should businesses take to escape the Matrix and successfully adopt cloud technology (opens in new tab)

Choose to rehost with the blue pill

Cloud platforms have proven for over a decade how organizations can completely transform their business, simplify complexity, and stay prepared for the future. By choosing the blue pill, businesses understand that the option to fully migrate to the cloud — the red pill — exists but have still chosen the alternative. Making this conscious decision means businesses have chosen not to make significant changes to their IT infrastructure and instead kept the shift to the cloud to the bare minimum. But, if migrating to the cloud is so great, why choose the blue pill?

It’s true that during the pandemic, more enterprises realized how constrained they are with an on-premises IT infrastructure that can't accommodate a remote workforce. However, the pandemic also caused leaders to think about where to cut costs and limit investments; this meant many businesses could only rehost (lift and shift) their infrastructure. One thing is clear: For those relying on in-house server platforms, embracing the cloud is a lot easier said than done.

That’s not to say that choosing the blue pill is the wrong option. “Blue pill” businesses will often choose to save money and time now to “get to the cloud” quicker and plan to deal with application modernization once they have migrated. The benefits of this rehosting strategy includes limited project cost, effort and complexity compared to re-platforming and refactoring. However, businesses shouldn’t forget that this may lead to the migration of brittle processes to the cloud. Furthermore, existing applications outside the cloud can be inefficient and expensive; and if the application has an existing problem, known or unknown, it will likely bring that problem to the cloud. 

Choosing to rehost infrastructure seems like the safer option, but just like in the Matrix, businesses will fail to realize the true benefits unless they choose complete cloud migration.

Rebuild with the red pill

The pandemic highlighted the need for cloud migration. But cloud migration isn’t just about moving to the cloud; it involves a state of continuous reinvention if the cloud strategy is to reduce costs and create new opportunities — it’s no wonder this option appears to be a hard pill to swallow. The red pill approach is about disrupting your market, without disrupting your business during cloud migration. This means eliminating silos between infrastructure and application and architect cloud-native solutions that address key business problems.

Different organizations have different reasons for choosing the red pill option. Some businesses are moving to the cloud to keep up with latest technology trends like IoT, video (opens in new tab), chat solutions, and exponential growth in data associated with these technologies. Other organizations that aren’t in technology-focused industries are seeing an increase in technology needs. But rather than hiring more technology-specific staff, they need to rely on cloud vendors to maintain their systems so that the organization can focus on the work that matters — whether that’s customer service or manufacturing the highest quality product.

The operational benefits of the cloud have been clear during the Covid-19 pandemic —helping staff transition to working remotely and contributing to business resilience during an ongoing, major disruption. With all great things there will be a number of challenges. According to Deloitte’s Cloud Survey 2021 the complexity of migration and clarity of ambition were the most common barriers to cloud adoption indicating the need for careful consideration and planning. 

However, this hasn’t deterred organizations away as nearly 90 percent of organizations are using cloud infrastructure or are planning to do so in the next three years. By choosing this cloud-only or red pill approach, businesses will need to rethink their way of working and use this as an opportunity to modernize legacy processes to achieve the best outcome.

Head up in the clouds?

Migrating to the cloud can provide several benefits including reduced costs, increased flexibility and enabling collaboration (opens in new tab) with the current distributed workforce. But whether the cloud can live up to its benefits depends on the approach a business takes.

As with any new technology investment, the old ways of conducting business will likely change which is why leaders need to ensure it is the right decision. But unlike The Matrix, choosing the blue pill in a business’ cloud migration story doesn’t mean they can’t afterwards choose the red pill.

Attar Naderi, UK Business Manager, Laserfiche (opens in new tab)

Attar Naderi

Attar Naderi, UK Business Manager, Laserfiche.