Chris Morris, vice president for cloud & partner ecosystems research at IDC Asia-Pacific says: "Organisations of all sizes now see cloud as a critical component of their forward-looking IT strategy. IDC expects that early adopters of cloud and other digital technologies are best positioned to ride out this kind of storm with the least amount of disruption from an operational perspective."
Recognising that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to cloud adoption, what strategy will work for which organisation in Asia? And how will the CIO navigate the challenges of orchestrating such an adoption with constraints like regulation, legacy applications, security, limitations around skill, tight budgets and businesses demanding to have the platforms ready now?
The new way of work normal
Justin Hurst, field CTO, APJ, Nutanix, saw enterprises are entering what he refers to as the second phase of cloud adoption as the work environment settles into a hybrid of in-person and remote workflows.
Per the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Index report, 86% of respondents agree that a thoughtful hybrid approach will enable them to enjoy the agility of the public cloud with flexibility in payment.
“Organisations are looking more carefully at how they can leverage cloud capabilities, while still maintaining the necessary applications on-premises with the consideration of control, security, cost, regulatory compliance, governance,” he added.
The many faces of hybrid
Hurst acknowledged that while the desire to embrace the cloud is universal, execution differs according to the needs and regulations of each industry and business.
He observed that new and smaller businesses tend to be born in the cloud as they have little in the form of on-premise infrastructure. These companies, like those in hospitality, are under tremendous pressure to lower costs in the current slump, all while embracing a more digital business and pivoting quickly for the next phase.
Regulated industries like financial services and government sectors, he continued, remain driven by legacy systems and mainframe applications. He added that despite the existence of a global cloud-first strategy, banks are taking different approaches to their cloud strategy. He conceded that in part this is driven by what these organisations are allowed to move to the cloud, and what they have to keep on-premise due to regulatory concerns.
“Organisations who have executed a hybrid cloud strategy intelligently have considered how they can use cloud not as a destination, but as a tool to help achieve business outcomes. At the end of the day, they are trying to increase agility and lower costs to provide new services for customers. The cloud is a fantastic way to get there,” he opined.
Top three considerations in moving hybrid
Use the cloud intelligently to preserve optionality. Organisations want a multi-cloud strategy that will not lock them to any one provider but allow them to move as their needs shift over time. He conceded this as dependent on the size and scale of enterprises. A multinational or global corporation working across multiple regulatory frameworks will likely be restricted by issues of data sovereignty, data governance and shifting geopolitics.
Operational maturity of the business. Certain applications are never going to move to the cloud. In such cases, enterprises need to consider the lifecycle of those applications and whether it is possible to modernize, replace, or let them run out either on-prem or in data centres.
Maintaining visibility, control, and data movement between clouds. In the rush to the cloud, people tend to overlook their migration and exit strategies. He observed that this occurred with early adopters in the US, who moved to the public cloud with great enthusiasm and went all in. A year later, however, they are rushing to exit from it due to mounting bills.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to how can we use the cloud in a way that's beneficial to the goals of the business, rather than just adopting cloud as the be-all, end-all,” he opined.
Challenges along the cloud journey in 2021
Hurst mused that everyone is looking to become a digital business now, regardless of industry. He believed one main challenge arising from this is the skyrocketing demand for talent. Organisations will need to close the gap in cloud talent, particularly as companies can today hire employees from around the globe, outside of the commuting range of an office.
“To be able to do so, businesses will require a shift in organisational thinking, and they will need to deal with cloud-based skill gaps on a region-by-region basis,” he concluded.
The governance challenge in the cloud
Unbeknownst to many, cloud service providers employ proprietary approaches to the delivery of public cloud services. This is transparent to consumers but becomes evident to IT organisations that must efficiently and cost-effectively manage a hybrid environment.
Hurst offers two considerations for the CIO and his or her team:
Think and operate as a service provider. Provide project-based services like a service provider and abstract away the capabilities of just a public cloud or a private cloud. This automates IT services and lines of business for consumers and end-users. IT can then build governance at the layer of consumption without needing to reinvent the wheel each time.
Investing in the right tooling and processes at the start, rather than as an afterthought. This will promote governance as CIOs will be able to see across clouds to where data is sitting. Having a real-time feedback loop through a single dashboard reporting engine, be it on-prem or public cloud will also help CIOs stay vigilant on compliance and regulatory checks. Having the right tools reduces the risks of data breaches which create huge losses for global companies.
Final thoughts for CIOs
“The best way for CIOs to think about the cloud is to ask: how can I use these tools to build agility into the fabric of what I do? How can I pivot quickly into new service and business models? How can I respond to new competitive threats?”
Hurst believed that moving faster is the norm – in the software world. This includes incorporating a cloud-like model into a culture of experimentation, failing fast, and delivering capabilities quickly, with a quick feedback loop.
Organisations that have been able to do that in the last year were able to pivot quickly and adjust their business models and service delivery in near real-time.
“CIOs need to work with the tremendous amount of data generated daily. They will need the right tools to extract value from the data residing across workloads, to understand customer behaviour and patterns and apply it to the business,” he added.
Bringing the power of the cloud and AI to bear against these data problems is another huge area of opportunity, again, for helping customers move forward and grow in whatever situation is next.
“When CIOs think about the cloud, think about how they can provide those capabilities and get closer to customers,” concluded Hurst.
Click on the PodChat player above to listen to Hurst elaborate on a cloud strategy that supports resilience and growth.
- How has COVID-19 impacted the adoption of cloud and what IT models (on-prem vs hybrid) have emerged as the choice for organisations across Asia Pacific?
- What type and size of business or industry trends favour what kind of hybrid cloud?
- What are the top considerations for enterprises as they shift from on-premise to hybrid infrastructures?
- What are some of the challenges that organisations face on their cloud journey in light of the current business landscape where a hybrid workforce is a reality?
- Governance question -
- What are the top 3 ways CIOs can harness cloud as part of IT infrastructure strategies to drive business growth?
- In 30-second what does Nutanix play in this environment?