FLUENT: Perspectives from Softcat

CLOUD: COMING OF AGE

WAS 2020 THE YEAR OF THE CLOUD?

As we accelerate towards the end of 2020, in what has been an amazing year for so many reasons, the ways many of us work, shop, communicate, educate and focus on our physical and mental health has changed forever. To analyse and understand the social impact of 2020 will probably take many years, but one thing is for certain, technology has been at the forefront of this seismic societal shift.

During 2020, across different industries we have already seen that driving a digital agenda is becoming a priority; for many the path of business and technology transformation leans favourably towards cloud as a destination.

It might be worth mentioning that, for many years, people have said it’s the year of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). If I hark back to my days designing and delivering those types

of solutions, then every year appeared to be the year of VDI! But this year more than ever, with the mobilisation of the workforce, this statement certainly has credence as the true power of remote working has and continues to be positively adopted. And with much of this remote working revolution underpinned by the fast evolution and development cloud, there appears to be no going back!

THE STATE OF PLAY


As cloud adoption appears to have accelerated in 2020, we cannot limit this to just VDI, or even to the remote working revolution. We must look at the wider context of cloud adoption and delve a bit deeper into what we’ve seen:

  • Deployment of productivity and collaboration tools; enabling the shift to a new way of working with no VDI in sight, whereby organisations accelerated and mobilised the workforce in a matter of days!
  • The explosion of video conferencing; seamlessly interweaving into our everyday lives, scaling to accommodate unprecedented user numbers.
  • The home learning revolution; allowing education to continue remotely and home schooling to suddenly become an actual thing (although as a parent the jury is still out for me on that one!).
  • The proliferation of new consumer apps; for grocery shopping, ordering take-away’s, booking appointments, accessing digital entertainment, messaging, and interacting with loved ones (and whilst the result is nearly all of us wedded to a screen, it serves as a window to stay connected, reducing the challenges associated with isolation).

AND AT AN ORGANISATIONAL LEVEL:

  • There’s industries who had adopted public cloud and then impacted by global lock downs, suddenly realising they had the ability to switch services off and dynamically scale down demand. The results were an instant reduction of IT footprint, showcasing the flexibility and cost benefits of running workloads on a public cloud
  • Whilst there were industries who had not adopted a digital approach who now have to contend with the scary and sudden realisation there is a risk to business failure as consumers move fully online with services scaling on public cloud!

AND FINALLY:

  • The acceleration needed to find a Covid-19 vaccine; whereby the pharmaceutical giants and researchers gravitated towards public cloud as a bedrock. The various platforms have provided the capability to scale, whilst sifting seamlessly through large datasets and computing complex algorithms to fast-track analytical outputs and produce a successful vaccine.

MAINTAINING THE FUTURE

As many areas of industry (and our own lives) hurtle towards a multi-cloud existence, and as technologies become even more integral in our ability to simply function in a new world existence, history shows that when things move fast the consequences can be felt both positively and negatively.

Therefore, as the various cloud options increasingly become the cornerstone for this global digital shift, there is a continued importance on how to maintain and accelerate to a future mode of operational readiness and sustainability.

OPERATING IN A NEW CLOUD WORLD

Businesses need to operate effectively across multiple clouds. This requires new processes and tools that are increasingly crucial to the success of delivering digital transformation projects. Using many of the existing ways and means simply do not translate to a new type of hybrid or multi cloud operating model. As such, the dangers looming include lack of visibility, cost, system sprawl, and exposure to security vulnerabilities.

ADOPTING MORE ‘AS A SERVICE’

As cloud and subscription models become common ways to consume technology, so do the ways in which organisations finance and procure. Evolving procurement models will become part of future budget planning and on-going service reviews. This requires a new type of tooling with, IT operations having to work closer with the finance and procurement teams.

SECURE THE PLATFORM…. NOW!

There’s an absolute need to build an intrinsic security model into your operational fabric that supports multi-cloud, multi-user access, end to end encryption, data level authentication and borderless networking!

MODERNISE AND REDUCE TECHNICAL DEBT

As organisations accelerate towards cloud and subscription services, there will be a need to actively tackle legacy systems and remove technical debt; whilst moving to modernise the application and data landscape , and the knowledge of how, becoming critical to business decisions.

A PATH TO NETZERO OR EVEN CARBON NEGATIVE?

As organisations more rapidly adopt and deliver against a digital agenda, there will be a new wave of globalised attention on sustainability to support carbon neutral policies. But as the major cloud providers invest billions in becoming carbon negative, which is a much bigger commitment than simply off setting carbon emissions, there will be an opportunity for organisations to take advantage and reduce their own carbon footprint simply by adopting cloud technologies! Sustainability is going to become a really key part for most businesses.

SO, WAS 2020 THE YEAR OF CLOUD?

In short, yes.

Cloud adoption, for many, has accelerated beyond anything that would have been thought possible in 2019. Yet the speed of change means many are having to take stock and reassess, refine and reimagine the way they do things to make cloud work for their business.

So as none of this will abate, organisations will continue to accelerate and innovate using cloud as the catalyst for their business and technology evolution.

Jump on, as the ride will get a bit bumpy!

A U T H O R

Dean Gardner Chief Technologist: Cloud


Dean is responsible for helping customers to define cloud and datacentre strategies as well as delivering internal support to our sales and services teams. Having worked in IT for over 20 years, Dean has a detailed understanding of the challenges associated with running critical IT systems. With organisations now moving towards cloud computing, he provides strategic advice, helping to bridge the legacy with the new hybrid-cloud models and delivering business transformation.


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