4 obstacles to a successful lockdown cloud strategy
Thu 29 Oct 2020 | Shane Dove
Organisations have a new perspective on the benefits of remote working. It’s vital they apply the same ambitious thinking to their cloud strategy
Lockdown was a sudden, unexpected and urgent test of business IT strategies. With no comparable experience to draw on, organisations around the world made the enormous – and largely successful – shift to remote working, virtually overnight. Invariably, cloud-based services offered a ready-made solution to the challenge of delivering applications and data to millions of home-based working professionals.
Snow Software recently found that out of 250 IT leaders surveyed, 82% said they had ramped up their use of cloud in direct response to the pandemic and the shift to remote working patterns it had ushered in. But, for those organisations who weren’t previously ‘cloud-native’, reliance on existing local networks connected data centres for critical applications presented an immediate barrier to this transformation.
Add to this the challenges posed by more traditional forms of voice communications, where some businesses remain heavily reliant on physical handsets to deliver voice for customer and internal communications. In some cases, entire call centres had been using handsets connected to on site PBXs, which were themselves physically connected physically to ISDN circuits with DDI numbers hard routed into the site.
Then, practically overnight IT, Network and Infrastructure Managers were tasked with designing a digital transformation strategy in order to provide home working colleagues with access to all of the usual forms of voice, applications and data. The businesses best equipped to adapt to this new lockdown IT model were those who were further along their journey to the cloud. In some cases, organisations had already embraced the cloud model so completely that their users could seamlessly access all business systems, data and applications from anywhere.
In contrast, others were only beginning to look at how they could use the cloud effectively given their industry constraints. Despite these varied circumstances, today, the overwhelming majority of businesses have now started on their cloud adoption journey, typically taking their first steps with Microsoft Office 365 or Google Cloud. Many already have cloud services providing disaster recovery or a web-facing application or two in AWS or Azure.
But these nascent cloud-based businesses still have work to do to enable users to work productively, as well as provide customers with more digital services. In particular, they must focus on four core challenges:
Balancing user experience and mobility with security and governance
While businesses must focus to improve user experience and allow mobile working, they must do so without compromising data governance or security. IBM’s recent ‘Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020’ found that globally, remote work has increased the average cost of a data breach by $137,000, and that 76% of remote workers also say working from home increases the time to identify and contain a breach.
So, it’s more imperative than ever that data governance and security is taken into account. Balancing these priorities is key to delivering applications and data in the most cost efficient and secure way.
Devising the right strategy
The beauty (and challenge) of cloud architecture is there is no such thing as one platform or strategy. Most businesses run IT estates that have varied challenges depending on factors as diverse as the age of applications, the levels of unstructured data and industry governance, among many others. This is why 84% of enterprises that use a cloud have a multi-cloud strategy. But the biggest hurdle can be delivering a multi-platform and technology strategy, and being able to cut through all of the industry hyperbole to make decisions which get things right the first time round.
Planning and implementation
Even when the strategy has been carefully designed and costed, planning and implementation can – at present – be a particular headache, given that most businesses’ IT teams are already stretched. Finding the time to plan and execute is very difficult when priorities can change at short notice, and these may also be skills that the IT team may not already possess.
In fact, in Flexera’s 2020 State of the Cloud Report, it was found that 77% of respondents believed that a perceived “lack of resources/expertise” was one of the biggest cloud challenges this year. It’s in these circumstances where the quality and effectiveness of service provider partnerships can make or break cloud implementation.
Managing hybrid IT
Understanding how to navigate through the different IT vendor options and then implement strategy to meet all business needs doesn’t bring an end to the challenges of cloud adoption. Even after cloud infrastructure and services have gone live, they have to be effectively managed, even if they are platforms which the internal IT team doesn’t have previous experience. This is why relying on a trusted partner is a sensible option to reduce risk.
For those businesses that haven’t planned for digital transformation, beyond a quick fix to adapt to Covid-19, it’s time to take notice. For instance, many organisations now have a new perspective on the benefits of remote working, and it’s vital that they apply the same ambitious thinking to their technology strategy. In a post-COVID world, the emphasis will no doubt shift back to how technology can deliver competitive advantage, and those who have adopted cloud today will be better placed to succeed.