3 Tips for Navigating Cloud Complexity in an Era of Digital Acceleration

The faster organizations can address cloud complexity, the better equipped they will be to take advantage of cloud to drive digital transformation.

Cloud migration was already well underway when the global pandemic struck, forcing companies to accelerate their IT and application strategies “virtually” overnight. While the shift to remote work was intuitive for those whose core IT was already in the cloud, others were under intense pressure to catch up. Leadership teams, often without consulting their IT departments, committed multiple millions to develop their cloud architecture, opting for speed over strategy. It was a frenzy.

The concept of virtualization began as far back as the 1960s, but the real tipping points came later – in 2002, Amazon entered the scene with its web-based retail services, followed by the launch of AWS and Google Docs in 2006, and hybrid/multi-clouds from companies like Oracle, IBM, and others in the 2010s. Now, according to Gartner, worldwide spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 21.7% to $597.3 billion in 2023, up from $491 billion in 2022.

Due to accelerated innovation around new technologies like Generative AI that require significant data storage and compute, companies want to ensure that they are getting the most out of their cloud investment, which may mean rethinking the larger cloud strategy. Some are finding that without the proper strategy, architecture, and optimization, managing the cloud can be difficult and expensive.

We’re now entering the next stage of cloud migration, one of cloud remediation, where businesses are reassessing their investments, reframing their priorities, and reorganizing their infrastructure. The upsides of successful cloud remediation are huge for both on-prem and cloud organizations, with benefits like increased uptime, faster time to market, and more productive teams. But every organization’s requirements and business goals will differ, and there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to follow.

See also: 7 Data Lake Best Practices for Effective Data Management

So, how do you move forward? Here are three tips for navigating cloud remediation:

1. ASSESSMENT: Understand where your costs are coming from

In today’s macroeconomic climate, any enterprise, whether it is in BFSI, healthcare, or other industry segments, is facing headwinds from rising costs due to inflation, a slowing economy, and various other related dynamics. While cloud adoption continues to be strong, businesses are increasingly aware of the associated expenses. According to the Flexera 2023 State of the Cloud Report, 82% of respondents from across all organizations indicated that their top cloud challenge is managing cloud spend.

Finding the right solutions during an assessment often starts with asking the right questions, including:

  • What is the priority of each application, and is each properly aligned to business outcomes?
  • Can your solution be rearchitected or redesigned? How much effort will that take? Do you have the right support in place?
  • Where are your costs really coming from, and where is the overspending occurring? What applications have the greatest business ROI, and can those that are underperforming be rearchitected?
  • How do all the individual applications work together? Are you shifting mission-critical workloads into the cloud at the right time?

See also: Navigating Cloud Costs and Egress: Insights on Enterprise Cloud Conversations

2. SECURITY: Put the right processes and policies in place

Prior to the pandemic, highly regulated industries like HCLS and BFSI were firmly against moving to the cloud because of the risks associated with transferring, storing, and protecting sensitive customer data. Thanks to upgraded features like multi-factor authentication (MFA) and zero-trust security models, cloud migration is much more secure, though still under increasing threat. Weekly cyber-attacks have increased worldwide by 7% in Q1 2023 compared to the same period last year, with companies facing an average of 1,248 attacks per week.

These attacks have sent global cloud security spending skyrocketing, from $595 million in 2020 to more than $6.6 billion anticipated by the end of 2023. But costs come way down if the right processes and policies are implemented ahead of time. Before jumping in, consider the following:

  • Threats can also come from within your organization. In a software-defined infrastructure, rogue employees (those who operate without proper oversight) can create an insecure environment. Guardrails need to be erected to ensure this doesn’t happen and permissions set to control access. From there, ongoing monitoring is critical to prevent cracks where bad actors might slip through.
  • Security needs to be a shared responsibility. One of the biggest mistakes in risk management is assuming someone else is on top of things. No cloud provider can claim 100% impenetrability, and the best way to minimize threats often comes down to diligence and vigilance, from the hyperscalers to the data engineers to the company itself.

3. ROI: Reframe priorities and create a clear roadmap

Digital transformation is more than a simple lift-and-shift exercise where systems are moved from data centers to the cloud, and cloud migration and remediation can be just as complex. The process needs to be customer-centric, focusing on which cloud-based applications will have the greatest impact on the bottom line. Given the talent shortage in tech right now, companies are opting to upskill their existing teams and bring in outside experts to help reframe their priorities and create specific remediation roadmaps.

According to McKinsey, the best roadmaps “define clear milestones and KPIs to better track progress and explicitly prioritize work based on value.” In practice, this often means putting resources into top-tier applications where the business value is greatest. Still, it’s also important to consider features like automation (so costs don’t rise as you scale) and adopting low-code/no-code tools (like Figma, Airtable, and Zoho) that don’t require coding experience.

What’s on the Horizon for the Cloud?

Due to ongoing economic uncertainty, cloud leaders say they are increasing their use of cloud-based services and products (41.4%), planning to migrate from legacy enterprise software to cloud-based tools (33.4%), and migrating on-prem workloads to the cloud (32.8%). In terms of digital transformation, cloud computing is the accelerant, enabling disruptive technologies like Generative AI and Web3 to proliferate across every industry. The faster organizations can get their cloud in order, the better equipped they will be to take advantage of the exciting future ahead.

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