Insight into cloud adoption can shape how IT evolves in the future
Cloud computing is here to stay. With new industry developments cropping up daily, an increasing mix of both public and private platforms, and growing investments across the board, the only real debate left is now between cloud’s ‘computing’ and ‘on-premise computing’ capabilities.
Amazon’s recent high profile partnership with VMware and Maintel’s own acquisition of Azzurri Communications highlights the industry shift in using cloud computing as a foundation for major digital transformation across businesses. This has also been noted by Gartner, that predicts that more than $1 trillion in IT spending will be directly or indirectly affected by the shift to cloud in the next five years.
The more comfortable we become with the cloud model, the more processes and systems we migrate into the cloud. This increase in acceptance also provides us with an opportunity to learn from this innovation cycle in order to better prepare for future ones. The big question – why have businesses favoured the cloud and where did the acceptance, adoption and even eagerness for the cloud come from? And importantly, what skills were essential to make the change effective?
Evolving at your own speed
Cloud computing has made it possible for organisations to free themselves from the tasks of selecting, procuring, installing, managing, maintaining and retiring racks of bulky onsite servers. As a result imposing physical systems have been eradicated in return for invisible off-site alternatives – so far so good. Furthermore, cloud now heralds IT’s shift in role from fixing broken systems to fixing business issues. IT departments now have the freedom to focus on innovation and real changes within organisations – leaving the infrastructure specialists to worry about hardware investment cycles, backup scheduling and hard-disk obsolescence.
The IT team has now grown up. It is now empowered, and can now evolve and energise the business, rather than merely equipping it. The lesson for future innovation is therefore to not only consider the way in which the business might immediately benefit practically from the new technology, but to also consider how the IT team’s role and internal perception may change. Opportunities need to be identified – will the main benefit be the removal of costs, or will it remove burdens and increase the opportunity for IT to contribute strategically?
Your needs on your terms
There are many reasons why companies invest in cloud computing. Some use the cloud for its scalability – this includes backup needs or perhaps the elasticity associated with the cloud – accommodating a wide variation in monthly or weekly demand. Cloud can also be used on a flexible pay-as-you-go basis which can also be attractive.
With this level of flexibility, companies need to be able to negotiate with suppliers to protect their businesses with suitable SLAs that mirror both the flexibility and the continuity the business is looking for. The SLA also needs to accurately reflect needs no matter how the business might change.
We can learn from what we know about cloud now to ensure that we are ready for the next major evolution in business computing. For me, the key take-away revolves around skills set. Ensuring the IT team had the soft skills to take advantage and harness new cloud capabilities was crucial to the success and speed of cloud adoption. It showed that technical skills and infrastructure are one thing, but learning the non-IT skills necessary to make cloud practical and acceptable to a business environment are just as crucial.
It is essential for the IT industry to actively learn from innovation cycles, and not just ride them. Ours is an industry that is extremely fast-paced, and as new cycles start, we must be prepared and flexible enough to capitalise quickly and efficiently to ensure opportunities aren’t missed. Having the wisdom and experience to sort the innovation wheat from the chaff early is crucial to future developments and investments. Motivations for adopting new innovative technology will remain largely the same, but spotting the usefulness of each development is a skill that comes from previous industry experience.