The Need for a Cloud Strategy Recalibration
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all industries in different ways. While short-term contingency plans have allowed organizations to weather initial disruptions, it has also led to sweeping recalibrations in business processes and operations. Ultimately, the need to facilitate flexible bandwidth access and sustain remote ops, has compelled organizations to let go of their onsite infrastructure and hardware in favor of shifting to the cloud.
COVID-19 – Defining New Requirements for a Successful Cloud Strategy
Research reveals that the world invested a whopping 107 billion USD on cloud infrastructure services in 2019. This spend curve will not decline anytime soon since public cloud expenditure is predicted to surpass USD 500 billion in 2023.
In the pre-pandemic world, the urge for digital transformation made several businesses cloud dependent. But the pandemic has now made cloud transition a necessity rather than an afterthought. Naturally, this has forced companies to rethink their cloud strategies and realize ways through which they can focus both on the technological as well as process engineering aspect of cloud journey, while navigating the cloud-transition challenges posed by the new-age global crisis.
Let us have a look at some of the key ways through which the pandemic is redefining enterprise cloud strategies in terms of reach, scale, and adoption and the steps that organizations need to take to successfully reboot.
The Need for Agility
Each organization has its own unique cloud roadmap that is designed to fulfil both long-term and short-term objectives such as reducing IT costs, achieving scalability, ensuring business continuity, and so on. However, considering the ramifications that a crisis like COVID-19 might have for a cloud strategy, it is critical for organizations to focus on cloud agility as well, which can help them facilitate quick, bite-sized transformations based on immediate requirements.
In the wake of the pandemic, for instance, transitioning the workloads to the cloud in the right way became a business-critical objective. Organizations have had to quickly adopt remote working models and shift business critical workforce to the safety of their homes. But achieving this with complex cloud architectures, limited resources, and security vulnerabilities have been clearly difficult.
Going forward, to stay immune to potential crisis situations like the pandemic, organizations will have to factor in immediate process and resource changes required for scaling operations and process within a short notice. This pandemic and the associated fallout is pushing organizations toward modern, software-defined, and AI powered hybrid cloud environments. Pre-validated and tested reference architectures driven by extreme automation can help organizations to quickly get on boarded and seamlessly consume cloud services.
The Need for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans
Perhaps the primary issue that has occurred is the need to maintain business continuity as majority of workforce operates remotely. This new normal is resulting in a massive strain on companies’ platforms. Enterprises must ensure a seamless recovery process to ascertain continuity of operations and address vulnerabilities. To achieve this, it is important to test and evaluate the resilience of underlying infrastructure and associated processes.
Automation could play a pivotal role in disaster recovery to enable near-zero data loss and quickly resume mission critical functions across environments in a flexible and economical manner.
The Need for Security
With most applications moving to cloud, securing critical company data and files across multiple clouds is a key necessity. The biggest point of contention here is the associated cloud security risks of data breach and information theft. Cloud security teams will need to recalibrate their security and compliance measures to accommodate network and endpoint threats through threat lifecycle management and respond to any evolving threat models. Cloud security measures will include:
- Preventing data leakage: This may include usage of advanced threat detection and monitoring technologies that enable collaboration and helps implement all internal security policies, all while preventing data leakage.
- Compliance and data privacy: These are the earliest considerations that needs to be part of an organization’s cloud strategy. Leveraging information governance technologies that provide centralized content lifecycle management, strong retention policies and legal holds can help. It is imperative that the remote work technology stack offers built in protection to stay compliant with HIPAA, FINRA, and CCPA or GDPR.
- Secure VPN: To enable secure remote access, a lot of organizations are offering VPN access to their remote working employees. The successful management of VPN access could lie within scaling up to provide gateways to all the remote endpoints. The cloud infrastructure must accommodate this sudden dynamic surge within a relatively short frame of time.
- IAM capability: The cloud strategy must also include developing Identity Access Management (IAM) capabilities to define access-based controls.
- Cyber Recovery: With increased perimeter of attack surface due to highly distributed architectures, organizations are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Such destructive disruptions could result in data loss and severely impact business operations. Therefore, it becomes important to have cyber recover strategy in place to protect critical data, discover and remediate breaches and accelerate recovery to revert to normal operations.
The Need for Flexible Cloud Consumption Constructs
Currently rapid sourcing enabled by flexible commercial constructs could play a pivotal role to ensure optimal use of capital, avoid liquidity crunch, and facilitate faster go to market. Organizations should look to setup hybrid cloud infrastructure in pay per use models with varied termination, tenure, and payment options to efficiently manage market volatility and demand uncertainty. Such models empower organizations to keep more capital in hand during tough times and avoid over provisioning of resources.
The Need for Operational Readiness
One of the fundamental building block of a successful cloud journey is to ensure operational readiness. From business process mapping to having the right set of tools that enable seamless cloud lifecycle management, a move towards operational readiness needs to be well-planned and carefully executed. This involves having the required skills, processes and tools in place for assessment, migration, deployment, monitoring and management, automation and orchestration, release management, data management, and other activities that help build a resilient and responsive foundation of a digital enterprise.
The Need for Skill Availability
With digital led recovery gaining focus during COVID-19, finding the right skills has become an even more cumbersome challenge. Hence, it has become inherently important to have the talent with required skillsets to build, deploy, operate, and manage cloud services. Organizations need to ensure the availability of the right set of skills on demand, at the right time depending on the stage and maturity of their cloud adoption lifecycle.
The Need for Scaling Rapidly
While scanning the potential conditions for a cloud journey in a post COVID timeline, the flexibility of modulating the available cloud resources as per demand is paramount.
This is where a highly scalable and flexible hybrid cloud infrastructure can help. As per estimates, the global hybrid cloud market value is set to more than double itself ($97.6 Bn) by 2023, no doubt fueled by the current pandemic and associated restructuring. The ease of scalability that is unmatched in legacy IT infrastructure framework can effortlessly scale up or down as demand spikes and subsides. Moreover, the need to combine infrastructure components in a flexible and remotely manageable way using software defined infrastructure solutions is quite strong in the current predicament. To sum up, the pandemic and the associated fallout is pushing organizations toward modern, software powered hybrid cloud environments.