Enterprises and Cloud ComputingLet’s remind ourselves about the advantages of cloud computing for enterprises. Perhaps the most important is the agility gained from self-service provisioning and an on-demand service model. This agility promotes innovation and faster time-to-market for new products and their revenue streams. Another clear benefit is optimized scalability so that infrastructures can respond quickly to dynamic business requirements. Enterprises have also learned that the public cloud’s high availability and resilience support enhanced business continuity SLAs. Other benefits include:
- Harnessing big data analytics to drive sales and marketing strategies.
- Improving the end-user experience for customers, employees, suppliers, and partners.
- Shifting infrastructure costs from CAPEX to OPEX, which introduces greater budget flexibility.
- Reducing operational costs — or at least the potential to do so if cloud spend is carefully managed.
The Catalytic Impact of COVID-19The COVID-19 pandemic abruptly presented a new reality to enterprises, who were suddenly driven to accelerated cloud usage by:
- Work-from-home employees, whose productivity (and sanity) now depended on reliable remote access to apps, data, and IT service desks. This spurred enterprises to embrace cloud native services and apps that could meet these needs quickly and at scale.
- Difficulty in accessing and/or staffing data center facilities, which made cloud-based backup and disaster recovery more important than ever to ensure business continuity and data integrity.
- Delays in hardware supply chains were yet another reason for looking to scale up cloud rather than on-prem infrastructure in order to meet the new demands.
- Even greater customer and partner expectations for always-on, low-latency online interfaces.
The Flexera report shows clearly that all the major cloud service providers have experienced growth since the onset of COVID-19, with AWS continuing to lead the market. The providers have all had to scale quickly to ensure that their users have the compute-storage-network resources that they need. They also offer cloud native apps that have been instrumental in helping enterprises respond quickly to COVID-19 demands. For example, AWS offers the following fully managed services:
- Amazon Connect, an omnichannel cloud contact center that lets companies provide superior customer and IT service with a cost-effective pay-as-you-go pricing model.Users can easily and quickly set up a full-featured contact center that can scale to support millions of end-users.
- Amazon Chime, a communications service for meeting, chatting and placing business calls within and outside the company. It can be consumed either as a standalone service, or as an SDK for integration into enterprise apps and services.
- Amazon WorkSpaces, a fully managed and secure Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solution that provisions Windows or Linux desktops in minutes and frees up IT from the capital expenditures and ongoing maintenance burden associated with on-prem Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)..
A Winning Cloud Adoption StrategyThe July 2020 AWS blog Evolving GRC to Maximize Your Business Benefits from the Cloud notes that 70% of cloud adoption programs falter or fail due to nontechnical challenges, i.e., mindset or organizational stumbling blocks. Although the context of the article is establishing cloud-based GRC (Governance, Risk, Compliance), we believe the excellent insights and guidelines are applicable to any and all cloud migration strategies. The author points out that the nontechnical issues typically arise when the cloud program moves into its later stages, when assets and apps are moving from small-scale, isolated development and test environments into larger, public-facing production environments. All of a sudden conflicts will arise when, for example, teams want to continue applying traditional controls to agile cloud environments. This attempt to impose a legacy mindset undermines one of the prime motivations to migrate to the cloud, i.e., benefit from cloud agility. It is important, therefore, to get all the stakeholders involved and informed from the outset. The AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) enumerates six organizational units, or Perspectives, that must be involved in discussing and buying into the fundamental mindset and organization changes that are key to a successful cloud adoption program. The following table summarizes the Perspectives and their responsibility in the cloud migration strategy:
- Experiment with challenger operating models in parallel to legacy models in order to learn how cloud adoption can be accelerated and desired business outcomes achieved faster. The example they give is a traditional bank that lets a digital bank subsidiary develop outside the legacy GRC framework. A more general example could be experimenting with agile project management methods for selected projects.
- Clearly signal the prioritization of cross-organization transformation by assigning a board-level executive to oversee the program and designating other high-profile “transformation champions”.
- Leverage the cloud migration to adopt advanced capabilities such as big data analytics and machine learning — technologies that can boost more focused and better informed business decisions.