Business need, data, apps, THEN the platform – a roadmap to cloud success

Posted on 25/05/2021 by vmwareemeasmt

Joe Baguley, VP & CTO EMEA, VMware

All over the world, lives have been transformed. Nearly everything we do is now dependent on digital connectivity and applications. This rate of change isn’t going to slow down: people, and by extension businesses, have realized what’s possible. Those that think they can take their foot off the pedal will be the ones that lose out.

And it is cloud, in all its iterations, that is helping to accelerate this trajectory, and ultimately driving the success and speed of app development and distribution.

Yet despite all the evidence, only a third of EU businesses are realizing the benefits of cloud.[1] Similarly, in South Africa, only 22% of businesses use cloud services,[2] while the Middle East is estimated to be about five years behind the US when it came to cloud usage.[3] At the same time, cloud adoption is only going to grow, with one analyst predicting nearly 20% growth in 2021.[4]

It’s quite simple – cloud is coming whether businesses embrace it or not. Those that don’t want to be left behind need to start plotting a roadmap to cloud-enabled success. But what does that look like?

To answer that, I recently took part in a panel event which considered both the opportunities cloud presents, and the reasons why many organisations have yet to move to the cloud. I was joined by Gavin Jolliffe from Xtravirt, Louise Ostrom from Accenture VMware Business Group, Salvatore Cassara from SGB Smit, a German manufacturer of power transformers and Sylvain Rouri from OVHcloud. We also had contributions and thoughts from other partners and customers, as you can see from the below.

Dictated by data

To understand the explosive growth of the digital economy, first we need to look at what’s fueling its acceleration – data. Every time we click on something, every digital moment we enjoy, we’re generating data. There’s immense value in that flood of information, but we need powerful technologies – Big Data, machine learning, artificial intelligence – to make sense of it all. What’s more, they all need to be able to do their work at scale.

The only way to access the compute power needed to turn data into intelligence and insight is with cloud environments. But more than that, on a basic level, decisions around the type of clouds companies use are inextricably linked to the types of data they own or use. “I think one of the biggest jobs of any company willing to move to the cloud is really to have a clear understanding of the various types of data that they are in charge of, and what is it that they want to do with this data,” suggested Rouri.

This was a point echoed by my colleague Hervé Renault, who highlighted residency, connectivity and accessibility as key considerations for organizations aiming make maximum use of their data through cloud.

The app advantage – available, agile and accessible

But what’s turning that data into something tangible? Apps – the DNA of an organization’s competitive advantage – is the answer. “It’s all about speed today, it’s all about how quickly can you go to market, how quickly can you grasp the market,” said Louise.

These apps need to be available at the right time, in the right place, on the right devices, fully secure and completely accessible. That means deploying them on clouds that provide the appropriate environment for their needs, while still retaining the ability to move these apps around as requirements change.

Can this be achieved internally, within existing development organizations? In short, not really, or, as Louise put it, “the tools and services you can get from the clouds you just cannot find or do on your own.”

The challenges of cloud

So, despite these benefits, what’s holding businesses back from the cloud?  

According to another panelist, it’s about people and processes. Salvatore highlighted how companies are often held back “because probably their team structure was not good enough. It was not developed enough in order to bring the right knowledge and attitude to support the cloud.”

If the right processes and people are not in place, a migration won’t get rid of any underlying problems; it will just move them into the cloud. “Shifting the problem from one platform to another isn’t an answer,” Gavin added.

There’s also the issue that for most businesses there isn’t one platform for everything they need. Cloud is a catch-all term that covers everything from apps running on-premises to private, public and edge clouds, and everyone needs a mix to meet their requirements. This proliferation brings with it inconsistencies, gaps and complexity, which can have a detrimental effect on app performance and delivering that digital experience. As Vivek Parath of Huco notes, one of the big questions many organizations are asking is “how can we move our apps to any cloud instantly without any disruption?”.

So, is there a way we can overcome concerns around having the right processes and skills in place, and tackling the challenges of complexity?

Yes. It is all possible through a single platform optimized for all apps, that can be used across all clouds, from private to hyperscaler, with consistent infrastructure and operations, thus reducing complexity, risk, and total cost of ownership. Businesses need a fast and simple path to the cloud, and the flexibility to choose any cloud. Organizations can match the needs of each app to the optimal cloud, with the freedom to use the most powerful cloud services and app modernization.  And to be able to deliver cloud migration as they see fit, rather than having to go all in.

Why the cloud choice isn’t black and white

Where does that leave us? Where people go wrong is to think in black and white, one or other. The conversation around whether businesses need to be in the cloud shouldn’t be about cloud computing, it should be about the business, focusing on apps and data. What apps do we need in future? What data do we need in future? Where does that data need to be? Where does it need to be processed? Where does the results need to be read? Work out what the roadmap is for your apps, that will then drive the requirements of what your environments, your infrastructure needs to be. That may, and in fact in most cases will, push you towards cloud, which in turn will then enable you to make sure you’re selecting the right cloud and the right cloud services to support the activity that you’re driving.

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