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Cloud management is changing rapidly with the times: Here's what you need to know


By Jesse Stockall, Chief Architect of Cloud Management at Snow

It's a fast-changing world. But at the same time, we're also falling back on the tried and true things that mattered previously. That's true in life, and it's certainly true with cloud computing - my stock in trade.

We're now several months into our different way of operating and running businesses, caused by a major pivot to work from home and a looming global economic downturn. The trend of moving to the cloud was already well entrenched heading into this year, but went up a level - quickly - this Spring. Now, as we enter the Summer, some clear trends are emerging.

Curious to put real numbers to what we've been noticing, my company, Snow Software, just polled a global group of 250 IT leaders on this very topic. A few telling and timely statistics:

  • 82% showed a continuing or initial increase in cloud usage since the current crisis began
  • 76% have increased their use of cloud infrastructure (e.g., AWS, Microsoft Azure, private cloud)
  • 56% are increasing their cloud spend
  • ...and only 6% have not changed how they use cloud services or applications

That rush to the cloud, a place most companies were already going to various degrees, has left a technology and business continuity mess in its wake for many companies. High on the list of affected areas are visibility, cost containment and security. These three initiatives are among the most important to running a business in 2020, and will continue to be high on the list into the foreseeable future.

In the rush to remote working, some cleanup is required

We've been fortunate at my organization because we were already heavy users of Zoom, Office 365, and other SaaS solutions, in addition to having a healthy mix of remote and in-office work arrangements. So, we have not had to deal much with issues of making the switch to working remotely and connecting to cloud software infrastructure to continue working effectively. That's not pervasive.

There are many companies that you would think would be able to handle these sorts of changes smoothly, but they haven't. They weren't set up for the remote access and work from home demands - or weren't expecting the scale of what would be required of those programs. But many businesses quickly made adjustments in order to let their employees work. The question now is do you know what was put in place to make remote work a reality and will you be able to keep those resources long-term on your current budget?


From an IT perspective, understanding what you own is paramount to making good decisions about it. Sounds obvious, but think about the IT infrastructure of an enterprise. If you add up hardware and software assets, you could easily be investing anywhere from the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars depending on the technology and deployment requirements. Before figuring out where money can be saved, it's of utmost importance to know what you have.

What's happening now from a visibility perspective is that the increased interest in cost savings is shining a light on issues with IT infrastructure. The forced pivot to working remotely, among other business process changes, has accelerated a lot of the digital transformation and cloud migration projects that companies were slowly implementing or planning. The survey I mentioned above showed that 41% of respondents are now accelerating their digital transformation initiatives.

Cost Containment

There's a famous saying that you have to spend money to make money. What I'm seeing in the current business environment as it relates to technology, however, is that you have to spend money to save money. It's not uncommon to shine a light on software licensing and subscription waste that is two or three times the cost of the tooling used to identify it. But, until there's a crisis like there is now and you actively seek that layer of visibility and retire unused assets, those cost savings go undiscovered.

The other major benefit of making an upfront investment for long-term savings is that you're getting to a better foundation, if you will, for optimizing IT spend going forward. This is certainly the case with SaaS applications and workloads deployed in public cloud because they represent recurring operating expenditure. It's different with on-premises infrastructure, which is typically a capital expenditure amortized over several years. Concerns about waste and sprawl only came to light once available capacity was exhausted as the costs did not change with usage. But the trend, as mentioned above, is accelerating quickly to the cloud - and paying the bill every month.


With security, there are three big trends I'm seeing:

1) Remote infrastructure, not company-owned: the sudden and dramatic move to remote working has opened up a massive can of worms by having some employees - out of necessity - working on their home computers. Many didn't get security training or understanding how to deal with phishing and other scams.

2) Accessing cloud applications: What's happening in a lot of cases with employees accessing the company's cloud from their own computers - whether for product development or just using the company's work tools - is there's no firewall around the outside. So, without any sort of guardrails in place or without a properly managed environment, you're exposing company data.

3) Tools that weren't ready for the influx in usage: We saw Zoom go from a plucky upstart replacement for WebEx to the leading video conferencing platform worldwide. And, not surprisingly, soon thereafter they found all kinds of security issues with it. They've been doing a good job of fixing them, but there were a lot of companies that rushed to roll out the tool. That's just one example.

Getting through a tough run is hard, but possible, with the right mindset

Lastly, just to get one more season into this article before I wrap up, a final bit of advice. When I'm not knee-deep in cloud architecture and management issues, I serve on the Canadian Ski Patrol. And I see people all the time who, understandably, panic when the conditions are terrible: poor visibility, icy trials, out-of-control's a long list.

The advice I'd give them is the same I give our customers who are similarly anxious: assess the situation rationally, figure out what steps you can take to reduce your risk right away, rely on people who know the terrain better than you, and be in the moment of what you're trying to accomplish, not thinking about the better conditions you hope to encounter on a future run. That's how you get to the bottom of the hill, though it will likely be a wild ride.


About the Author

Jesse Stockall 

Jesse Stockall is the Chief Architect, Cloud Management at Snow Software. He has more than 20 years of industry experience leading agile teams from concept though to delivery and the adoption of software solutions. He has held previous positions at Embotics, Symbium, CRYPTOCard, the Canadian government and Digital Equipment Corp.

Published Wednesday, August 12, 2020 7:34 AM by David Marshall
Brad Dickinson | Cloud management is changing rapidly with the times: Here’s what you need to know - (Author's Link) - August 19, 2020 5:37 PM
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