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InterVision 2021 Predictions: Operating Cloud First - A Top 2021 Trend and What You Must Know

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

Operating Cloud First - A Top 2021 Trend and What You Must Know

By Dustin Milberg, Field CTO Cloud Services at InterVision

Remember the good-old-days, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic? The days when your systems engineers could freely walk into the datacenter and physically manage the infrastructure? The days when you could order, receive, and rack-and-stack new infrastructure as needed to run your business-critical platforms on an OpEx model? In some ways, it seems like yesterday. In others, it seems like a distant memory.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers have experienced delays, price instability has made predictive budgeting far more difficult, and the requirements of social distancing have impeded the ability for individuals to simply enter and exit the datacenter as they please. All the while, demand on internet-based applications has continued to rise as users have changed the way they consume everything from clothes, to groceries, to cars, to entertainment. Organizations are put in a position where they are forced to keep up with the demand, while facing the harsh realities of the supply chain.

These trends have caused business leaders and previous skeptics of cloud to rethink their platform scalability strategies in favor of transitioning to the public cloud. This move has the potential to help shift business operations away from dependence on managing physical datacenter infrastructure to a model that enables measurably improved quality, performance, scalability, security, and agility, with ubiquitous access. However, many organizations have made wholesale moves from on-premise to the cloud and have seen dramatically increased cost and complexity, a decrease in performance and user satisfaction, and a significant erosion in employee morale and culture (which, in this author's humble opinion, are far too often overlooked and the single greatest contributor to cloud adoption success or failure). And the simple truth of the matter is, it is not the fault of the public cloud providers; rather, a lack of understanding of what it really takes to harness the power of the cloud and do it in a cost-effective manner. This includes considerations of technical and security requirements, and how to provide a user experience that delights and engages employees in a way that fosters excellence and innovation.

Put simply, the journey to the cloud is more important than the arrival! The planning and strategies adopted are directly reflected in the results of the value derived. The importance and popularity of cloud has been growing, but moving into 2021, these initiatives will be critical to long-term business success. Here are few common misconceptions about cloud-first and what you need to know to find success with this strategy moving forward:

1.  "'Cloud-First' Is Not ‘Public Cloud Only'" 

This is probably the most common misconception about the cloud. If your organization is developing and delivering platforms exposed to users outside of your company, then you have built a private cloud. In fact, the existing datacenter strategy does not have to be abandoned to have a well-conceived cloud-first strategy. It simply means that the way the resources are consumed may need to be re-architected or re-factored to optimize the platform in order to take advantage of incorporating public cloud into the mix.

2.  "My Systems Contain Highly Sensitive Data and I Just Cannot Trust That Public Cloud Is Secure Enough" 

If this is the case, then the current, self-managed platform is also at risk (probably more so). The reality is that public cloud providers all help improve security for organizations by introducing the "shared responsibility model." Public cloud providers leverage state-of-the-art datacenters and extremely modern physical and technical security. The way they enable organizations to consume their resources secures everything below the physical layer. Which means that organizations are still responsible for strong security practices built into their consumption models: virtual firewalls, WAF, SAST, DAST, etc. A strong security program is required, regardless of where the infrastructure resides.

3.  "I Am Too Dependent on CapEx to Move to OpEx, and Public Cloud Doesn't Allow for That" 

Moving to the cloud does not have to be an either/or decision when it comes to how to manage expenses on the balance sheet. Cash is king! If you don't need to spend it, then don't! You still have the flexibility to capitalize public cloud resources. But it requires planning and coordination. What the public cloud allows you to do is plan for the resources you need in perpetuity while only paying for surge capacity when it is needed.

4.  "After We Lift-and-Shift My Platform and Continue Running, It Will be Business as Usual" 

This is probably the most common mistake made by organizations. Lift-and-shift is a perfectly viable option for some types of systems. However, most require some level of either re-platforming, re-architecting, or re-factoring in order to truly harness the power and optimize cost in public cloud. Consuming public cloud resources not only changes your infrastructure strategy, it also changes the way that you develop, test, and deploy software. As I mentioned early, you cannot under-estimate, plan for, or invest in the way the shift to the cloud will impact the behaviors and culture of your organization. Having a comprehensive plan to address the people, process, and tools (in that order) required to make the shift will pay massive dividends in your success.

To start with these goals, first ask yourself why you want to be in the cloud. What does success look like to you? What is the primary driver, and how do you anticipate tracking against this goal to be sure you're headed in the right direction? Indeed, a good cloud strategy should cover aspects well beyond simply "getting to the cloud," so your team should have a plan built for how and when to go about optimizing the environment.

Leverage Cloud Managed Services to Optimize the Plan

There are many cloud providers to choose from when selecting the right environment for your business, the biggest players being Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Leveraging cloud managed services delivers the skills and services to enable fast and effective cloud adoption without increased burdens on your technical staff. With varying levels of management after cloud migration, third-party providers can step in to assist your business at the right balance of support you need, whether it's testing, monitoring or everything end to end.

Too often an organization can stall on their way to the cloud because of skills gaps, culture, fatigue, unforeseen technology interdependencies, security and compliance concerns, and unclear total cost expectations. These are all areas where cloud managed services can assist, either in part or in whole, fulfilling cloud-first objectives along the ever-important journey.


About the Author

Dustin Milberg 

Dustin Milberg is a seasoned enterprise technology executive and current Field CTO Cloud Services at InterVision, a leading IT strategic service provider and Premier Consulting Partner in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Network (APN). In this role, Dustin focuses on helping customers adopt a holistic approach to developing and delivering sustainable platforms and solutions, while enabling technology organizations to optimize the entire operation: people, process, infrastructure, operations, development, quality, and security.

Published Friday, January 08, 2021 7:40 AM by David Marshall
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