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COVID-19 a clear opportunity to cement cloud strategy

If there is anything positive to take out of COVID-19, it is the opportunity offered to businesses to work smarter by leveraging cloud, AI and machine learning to simplify and automate operations.

This is one of the takeaway messages from digital guru Brett StClair who delivered the opening keynote presentation on ITWeb’s virtual Cloud, Data Centre and DevOps Summit hosted on 24 February 2021.

In an overview of key trends, StClair said that as companies face the reality of constant change, one of the main challenges is the ability to manage increasingly complex environments – difficulty that is inevitably exposed in end-user engagements.

So in dealing with businesses, customers end up having to put up with issues of compliance and governance, he added.

StClair stressed that business must focus on simplicity, friction, speed and data to review systems, processes and procedures and become agile.

His message to the market is to automate and begin with internal processes, identify what data counts and how to use it, and begin earnestly to develop a ‘trust engine’ within the organisation to strengthen systems, operations and add value to the customer experience.

Why complex

Dave Funnell, Senior Cloud Provider Manager, VMware Sub-Saharan Africa, said the increase in multicloud is driving complexity, a situation exacerbated by the misconception that cloud is ‘magic’ and will solve all IT issues.

There is an increasing need to effectively manage the rapid development and roll out of applications, described as the currency of business today.

“If you understand where the problem is, then potentially it becomes easier to solve that problem… it always still amazes me, the number of applications that are being developed today to be deployed in your environment. There are something like four hundred million applications developed over the last 30-odd years, three hundred million in production today. We are going to add another five hundred million apps over the next five or so years. It’s already a complex environment, running on prep, how are you going to manage all these applications?”

A hybrid approach to cloud is growing in popularity, Funnell explained. He said according to IDC statistics regarding the approach to cloud that organisations will adopt in the next 12-18 months, 45% will be mostly or only on private cloud, 43% will be mostly or only on hybrid, while 9% will mostly or only be on public cloud.

Funnell added that highly regulated sectors, including finance, resource industries, government and healthcare, will gravitate towards the private cloud arena as control becomes paramount.

He stressed that the starting point is understanding the parameters around which the application has to operate and which platform it will run best on.

“Yes, you want the benefits of cloud… you want that scalability, that flexibility, that Opex model….someone else delivering the competencies that are not your core competency around especially the infrastructure. But you need control. You need everything you’ve had up until now. Now obviously you move into other sectors that are less regulated and you’ll see a lot more hybrid cloud and a lot more public cloud. Again, you’ve got to understand where your applications are going, you want to reduce your complexity, then you have to know… you can’t just throw everything over the fence into the cloud. I have got to know what is the right cloud platform for this application workload?

“According to its lifecycle, where do I want this application to run? Maybe I am going to do development of this application in the public cloud, but due to the nature of the data and requirements around sovereignty, I am going to run it in a private cloud. Those decisions have to be made for every application.”

Funnell said another key driver in the cloud services space is consolidation and the prediction by Gartner that 80% of enterprise datacentres will be shut down in the next five years.

This will mean more intensive migration from on-premise to the cloud, including applications. 

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