FLUENT: Perspectives from Softcat

STAY IN CONTROL OF YOUR CLOUD

WHEN IT COMES TO CLOUD STRATEGY, ALWAYS CONSIDER THE LONG-TERM.

In a commercial world consumed by the global pandemic, organisations have been forced to make swift, short-term decisions to keep operations moving and satisfy immediate needs. However, short-term solutions can create long-term problems, especially when decisions are made without full consideration. You may find yourself stuck with fixed parameters and obligations that restrict your responsiveness to change so holistic IT strategies remain key. Make sure you don’t lose sight of them in the rush to embrace the ‘next big thing’.

Organisations of all sizes, around the world have had to cope with unexpected and rapid operational changes over the last twelve months. The global pandemic has forced businesses to think differently and adopt new working strategies, within short timeframes and under significant pressure. It’s fair to say that many decisions have had to be made without the opportunity to exercise the usual rigours of process, evaluation and testing along the way. Rather, it has been a case of adapting to respond to immediate needs, using available strategies and insights.

In these circumstances, many organisations have adopted the Public Cloud as their preferred way to cope with changing and unpredictable workloads. Whilst it’s tempting and understandable to bridge gaps and maintain operational performance with tactical solutions, in the absence of a longer-term strategy, you can end up spending far more time and money managing them than first thought.

Certainly, public cloud can deliver a host of benefits to your business. Deployed correctly and with proper consideration, it has the potential to act as a catalyst for cost-effective and rapid transformation that will create demonstrable commercial value where you need it most. However, like many things, if you opt for a cloud solution and rush to implement it without devoting the time and focus to plan or develop an appropriate strategy and roadmap for adoption, migration and usage – as well as the resulting implications for your business and employees – it can end up proving more of a hindrance than a help with higher costs than expected and inflexible end solutions.

For example, in the process of architecting for your cloud you may also find yourself having to manage significant and sometimes unpredictable operational changes, such as enhancing security coverage and processes. This degree and scope of change is not something that should be frequently updated and repeated – as it is complex and time-consuming. But if you don’t consider your holistic cloud strategy from the start, you can end up ‘locked in’ from an architectural standpoint which is extremely difficult to roll back from: all of which impacts your organisational agility. All in all, this increased complexity and lost efficiency can make it almost impossible to truly innovate; and in turn, to modernise. With that in mind, it’s well worth taking the time to think about how you can evolve from the datacentre to public cloud carefully, whilst maintaining the technologies you trust and without having to completely re-skill your workforce.

DON'T BE RESTRICTED

Being ‘locked-in’ in any form has always been an anxiety-inducing state of affairs for enterprise CIOs… and although technology offerings have become more bespoke and flexible, this anxiety hasn’t really eased – because prevailing cloud purchasing habits haven’t actually changed. Two-thirds of CIOs say they would prefer to use cloud services from several different vendors to avoid lock-in; yet seven in ten of those very same companies still use one single cloud provider1. Some of this is probably just down to human nature. Although we can see why spreading our cloud service purchases across a portfolio of different people would be beneficial, in reality we’re all frantically busy at work, with never-ending to-do lists and demands… many businesses simply find it too time-consuming to migrate and manage massive amounts of data between multiple cloud providers – and end up continuing with the one they know.

The lesson here then for Public Cloud contracts is to ensure you work with providers who offer you the flexibility and control you require to stay agile and adapt in these fast-moving times. Meanwhile, don’t be tempted by apparent quick fixes or catch all cloud provider propositions: instead, focus on creating a considered, long term strategy that captures all elements of your IT environment, especially applications. In this way, you can look to transition and evolve into public cloud by continuing to use familiar technologies, while maintaining consistent operations that don’t require any reskilling to accommodate new, cloud-native technologies. Also, consider introducing some of your new cloud features into your on-premises datacentres, to bring together your private and public cloud strategies to make the most of common strengths and enable a smoother, more agile transformation process.


GET CLOUD SOLUTIONS THAT WORK THE WAY YOU DO

This way of thinking is in line with VMware’s portfolio of support. VMware Cloud Foundation and its extension into multiple cloud platforms has been created to provide you with the precise infrastructure and operational consistency you need across your private and public clouds. Softcat and VMware work closely with organisations to help ensure IT investments are optimised while maintaining the reliability and independence required to stay productive and meet ROI expectations. VMware’s comprehensive portfolio of Cloud services delivers the choice and features to support your business; Softcat provides the support and advice you rely on to make the right decisions.

VMware’s new Cloud Universal offering creates a platform upon which to centralise your IT spend conveniently while retaining the freedom to choose how you allocate that money across different cloud providers. Its enterprise-class, multi-cloud infrastructure and operations capabilities allow you to confidently share your applications across private, public and local cloud environments depending on your own unique requirements and business priorities. This is particularly attractive as for most organisations, the effective management of their often vast and unwieldy portfolio of applications is an IT priority – and essential for commercial wellbeing. Cloud Universal makes this complex task much easier to achieve. Alongside, VMware’s CloudHealth system supports you with control and ongoing management across your cloud landscape, while delivering maximum value to your business. With a long and impressive track record with customers and strategic partners, CloudHealth is recognised as the most trusted software platform used to accelerate business transformation in the cloud. So much so, in fact, that Softcat uses CloudHealth as a foundation behind several other customer service offerings, such as our Cloud Intelligence Service which is applied across multiple cloud providers.

SOFTCAT AND VMWARE: YOUR EXPERT PARTNERS FOR OPTIMISATION

VMware’s solutions give you the tools to walk your path to IT modernisation. As a long-time trusted VMware partner, Softcat can ensure you choose the right combination to get there, by catering for your particular needs. Put simply, we start with you. Where you are now, where you want to go, and what we need to do to get you there. It’s a recipe for success. Which is why Softcat has been CloudHealth VMware Partner of the Year for the last three years, EMEA Solutions Partner of the Year 2018 and won a VMware Partner Innovation Award in 2018.


A U T H O R

Dean Gardner Field CTO, Softcat


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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