Cloud nine or cloud, now what?

Cloud computing security lock.

It is no secret that the shift to remote working sparked an acceleration in cloud adoption. Businesses with little or no cloud infrastructure scrambled to implement a means to securely support the tools and services that would allow staff to collaborate remotely. Similarly, those already in the cloud doubled down on their existing deployments.

This lurch towards cloud adoption is not showing any signs of slowing. Cloud computing is quickly becoming one of IT’s biggest costs. According to Gartner, Australian organisations are expected to spend almost $10.4 billion on public cloud services in 2021. This represents a 18% increase from 2020.

Similarly, a recent survey of IT leaders we conducted found that 82% of those we spoke to had increased their cloud usage in response to the pandemic, and 60% said their cloud usage continues to increase.

During the peak of workplace disruption, the aim of most business leaders was to act quickly to ensure that staff could remain productive and connected during a very uncertain time. Shifting to the cloud helped to achieve this.

Overall, the outcome of this cloud investment has been great for business agility and accelerating digital transformation, but has also added organisational complexity and increased security concerns. Many made these rapid changes in a bid to survive and remain competitive. However, as the dust settles, the question many are now asking is, “okay, now what?”

The first step is to take stock of cloud infrastructure and spend. Reining in costs, understanding what applications and deployments are in place, and ensuring that employees are using the right tool for the job all start with visibility. Businesses need to find out what they have, assign owners and understand which business unit uses what. This mapping-out process is crucial, especially for large enterprises — without it, IT-leaders are operating blindly.

Following this, look for the most common examples of waste. These include overprovisioning, idle instances and duplication. For example, maybe one business unit purchased a tool that’s great for their purposes but duplicates something the company already has. The rapid pace of change in collaboration applications means that new capabilities have been added to platforms such as M365 and G-Suite that may allow you to eliminate an additional tool that was necessary a year ago. Identifying these instances will hopefully reveal low-hanging fruit that is relatively easy to eliminate or consolidate and generally not disruptive. If you are concerned about deleting something, you can back it up to cheaper disk storage or shrink its resource allocation before purging it completely in the future.

Also, strongly consider an IT, software-specific or cloud management solution. There are a number to choose from, though capabilities vary widely, so do your homework. The right solution can save time, money and staff resources.

Finally, this may not apply to every company, but in some cases, it is possible to go back to your cloud provider and renegotiate. Growth plans have gone from aggressive to nonexistent for many, so paying for cloud capacity that you are not going to need is a good reason to renegotiate.

For example, when it comes to cloud flexibility and choice, there is a fine between just enough and too much. Answering this critical business and IT operations question rests on a number of factors, however before getting caught up in the nuances of varying multi-cloud offerings, your business should be asking itself the following questions:

  • What are you trying to accomplish in the cloud?
  • What are your company’s competencies?
  • What are your biggest IT costs (infrastructure, software/applications or people)?
  • Do you have a geographic region that has GDPR, privacy or data sovereignty concerns to consider?

There are of course more things to consider but this should provide a solid starting point if you do need to re-evaluate cloud usage.

Most businesses rarely look back once they have shifted towards a cloud-supported model, as it offers increased flexibility and on the whole is a lot more aligned with today’s collaborative and distributed way of working. However, with any change comes adjustment, so to get the most out of any cloud investment make sure you are taking the time to refine and tweak on an ongoing basis to ensure maximum alignment and value.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.