The cloud has been an essential component of enterprise technology for nearly a decade, but adoption has been slow for many companies. Due to security concerns, many organizations have chosen to retain on-premise software even though it may be preventing them from anywhere and anytime accessibility.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated adoption of the cloud. With many employees suddenly needing to work remotely, companies realized that a reliable cloud provider not only allows for scalability but also made work from home a reality for millions of people. Companies have also realized that they don’t have to maintain their own data centers. And over the years, trust in cloud security among businesses has gradually improved, which has affected rates of adoption.
Due to this acceleration, the cloud has evolved from a technology choice or a pursuit to drive down computing cost to a transformation enabler. It is also a platform for enterprise business transformation and the de facto standard for how enterprises will operate in the future. However, there are many options for cloud implementation today and businesses should carefully consider the pros and cons of each before deciding on which cloud model to adopt.
The Evolution of the Cloud
At the beginning of the decade, cloud computing was a new concept, and companies were hesitant to move to the cloud. Oftentimes, cloud providers were unprepared, and ill-suited, to deliver solutions to organizations designed for on-premise software, which defeated the purpose of moving to the cloud.
However, current demand for digital business changed the game completely, creating two drivers of accelerated cloud adoption: business needs (how cloud adoption fits into the business, how it adds value, and how it increases agility for the business) and IT needs (operational efficiency, safety, and security, cost or spend management). These drivers have led to:
- Better enterprise agility and speed: Today, the cloud allows for better integration of business units through sharing data, driving integration, and solving business problems faster. Cloud adoption can also create common, connected data sets, enable deeper, more sophisticated insights and analytics, enhance collaboration through new shared platforms and tools, and increase speed of decisions.
- Business innovation: Cloud adoption allows organizations to leverage new tools and capabilities to increase revenue, cut costs, improve consistency, and retain personnel more effectively. Instead of setting up and running their own servers, organizations can turn to the cloud service provider for a fixed cost.
- Providing more value to enterprises: Aligning technology with business unit needs requires new ways of working, all possible through cloud engineering. These new technology capabilities and solutions attract new workers and provide access to ecosystems with new skill sets, such as DevOps, agile, and UX. The cloud also enables process improvements such as automation and human augmentation to improve productivity and create firm integration, resulting in agility, connectedness, and transparency.
- Smoother operational efficiency: In a work environment that has gone mostly remote, organizations can move from an enterprise data center, while gaining the ability to replicate data and app services across more than a single data center or region. The cloud also offers organizations the ability to scale on-demand, and enhances their overall resilience, allowing them to respond more quickly to outages and disruptions.
The Cloud Adoption Model Has Changed Over Time
The cloud adoption model has also evolved over a period of time, and choosing the right model is necessary for enterprise organizations to take full advantage of all that the cloud has to offer. The three components of the new model include hybrid-cloud, multi-cloud, and poly-cloud.
Hybrid-cloud is mixed computing made up of on-premise infrastructure or private cloud, and a public cloud. This means that organizations have a private cloud within their own control, and a public cloud, such as AWS or Microsoft Azure. About 72% of enterprise businesses are adopting hybrid-cloud.
Multi-cloud, which is the distribution of the same types of workloads on more than one public cloud provider, with or without an existing private cloud, allows companies more flexibility. Organizations can avoid vendor lock-in by having more than one cloud provider and split the risk between the different cloud providers. This allows for the organization to continue running operations in the event that one cloud has an outage.
Over time, multi-cloud has evolved into the newest cloud trend: poly-cloud. In poly-cloud, organizations can distribute different types of workloads to different cloud providers. For example, an organization might use AWS for standard services, but use Google cloud for machine learning and data-oriented applications and Azure for Microsoft Windows applications. Organizations, in essence, can take advantage of what each cloud provider is best at. Poly-cloud is driven by the need to mix and match workload distribution based on best offerings from providers. It also allows organizations to leverage the most advanced offerings to provide the best value to them.
The cloud is no longer a future state for many organizations and defining their cloud model will be key to maintaining competitive advantage. The synergy between business and IT needs presents more opportunities for innovation. Organizations should understand the opportunities they can take advantage of in cloud adoption, such as lowering costs or streamlining business operations, in order to benefit from the solution.
EVP of Digital Engineering & Cloud Engineering