Cloud Adoption – It's Time to Get Serious

By: Eric Troup

The COVID-19 pandemic made clear the advantages of truly committing to the cloud and embracing operating as a cloud-based digital-native business. Businesses felt the strains brought on by dramatic unexpected shifts in process patterns and volumes across their entire organizations. Some workloads contracted, while many other workloads expanded dramatically or changed their patterns beyond all projections. Modeling and forecasting became difficult. 

Organizations that could theoretically operate remotely or virtually during the pandemic but that were not truly prepared to do so struggled to keep up with a rapidly changing environment. They wasted time reactively implementing traditional IT procedures. Some spent money in a crisis mode to buy data center equipment to grow capabilities.

For example, a certain state unemployment insurance office had resisted shutting down its data centers and moving to a public cloud infrastructure. The sudden huge rush to file unemployment insurance claims overwhelmed its systems. Many people could not get their applications completed. The unemployment office had to order hundreds of physical servers and get them installed and operating to handle the workloads. A few months later, this added capacity was largely idle as crisis workloads peaked. In another example a few weeks into the pandemic, IT staffs forced to work remotely with inadequate management tools were encountering significant obstacles provisioning laptops and supporting work-at-home employees. Windows laptops were in extremely short supply.

The cloud competitive advantage

Organizations that had already adopted a truly software-defined, cloud-based model for infrastructure and operations discovered they were in a much better position. They reaffirmed the competitive advantage of the cloud by being able to shift to a work-from-anywhere model supported by a cloud-based infrastructure and management tooling that was agile and flexible enough to meet the demands. Cloud service providers and communications service providers (CSPs) proved the model of virtualized software-defined infrastructures and services could keep up with the massive increases in workloads, network traffic, and shifting patterns—on a global scale.

Survival via business transformation

A year ago, a discussion about cloud adoption was very different in tone compared to cloud adoption discussions today. Last year, organizations were picking around the edges of cloud adoption. Many were not fully committed but were instead considering pursuing digital transformation by moving a limited number of specific functions to the cloud or by adding virtualization to their architecture without fully adopting a software-defined way of doing business. Today, it is not about limited digital transformation. It is about survival via business transformation, how to go “all-in” on cloud as quickly as practical.

Business-transformative cloud adoption has several digital transformation components, each with different points of emphasis that vary by industry and application. Each of these digital transformations are worthy of separate in-depth discussions. However, we can summarize the key aspects.

Employee productivity and collaboration

Equipping people with office tools that enhance productivity, automation, collaboration, learning, and communications has been growing in importance for years. The rapid shift towards remote working via virtualized workplaces heightened the need to address how employees work and how products and services are developed, delivered, and serviced. To realize the full potential, the next required step is moving from older on-premises based, licensed versions of office productivity tools to modern workplace, cloud-deployed, subscription-based virtual workplace environments. This next step in cloud adoption provides two critical additional benefits. These including ensuring that the latest modern workplace capabilities are always available for use by employees regardless of physical location and that associated cloud-based modern workplace and software management tools are efficient, secure, and equally agile.

IT systems and operations

As employees shift into a modern digital workplace, IT can become overwhelmed. IT must also shift towards a cloud-based model delivering software-defined services, not hardware-constrained systems. Internally, many on-premises-oriented IT process and systems may become sub-optimal for supporting the modern workplace. They may not provide commensurate software-defined management abilities and become cumbersome to operations.


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