Leveraging the cloud for innovation, efficiency and growth in 2022 - Intelligent CIO Europe
Leveraging the cloud for innovation, efficiency and growth in 2022

Leveraging the cloud for innovation, efficiency and growth in 2022

Rackspace Technology, a leading end-to-end multi-cloud technology solutions company, has announced the results of a new global survey, conducted in association with Google Cloud, of 1,400+ IT executives, Future of Compute, that highlights the increasingly rapid pace of cloud adoption. According to the survey, the question is no longer whether organisations should migrate to the cloud, but how they can leverage the cloud for innovation, efficiency and growth.

More than half (51%) of all survey respondents said that 100% of their applicable infrastructure now resides in the cloud, while (49%) said they plan to move more of their workloads into the cloud as possible. In addition, more than two-thirds of respondents’ compute workloads are now supported by public cloud, colocation and managed hosting services. At the same time, IT infrastructure spread has reached an equilibrium and leaders expect it to hold steady over the next three to five years.

Underscoring the increasingly central role that technology is playing in transforming operations, more than a third (35%) of respondents say IT executives play a key role in driving the direction of the company, as silos between functional areas continue to dissolve.

“Driven in large part by the power of the cloud, today’s technology landscape is evolving at a breakneck pace, while IT is penetrating all areas of the organisation,” said Jeff DeVerter, Chief Technology Evangelist at Rackspace Technology. “In this environment, IT leaders have the power to help companies and organisations see around corners to solve both their short-term and long-term business challenges and provide critical guidance in the areas of business growth, security, efficiency and customer experience.”

The cloud market grew 23% to US$323.3 billion over the past year, according to Gartner, who projects a future growth rate of 18% annually. Accordingly, most respondents say they are already enjoying the benefits of a public cloud (63%) and/or a private cloud (66%). In addition, public cloud investments represent as much as 40% of most IT budgets, with private clouds at 30%.

Containerised applications are also continuing to grow in popularity as organisations shift away from on-site data centres. The most common tactic among organisations (85%) employing public cloud remains ‘lifting and shifting’ using cloud based VMs (virtual machines), but 84% of respondents say they are investing in public cloud with containers. Over half (62%) of respondents say their use of containerised applications will increase in the next two years.

The cloud revolution brought an influx of advancements to the world of compute; however, the past decade of inundation is settling into a more level pool of opportunity. Over the next 12 months, respondents anticipate their infrastructure spending will include on-site data centres (55%), managed hosting (52%), public cloud (51%) and colocation (34%). However, 60% of respondents also said they envision not owning a data centre in the next five years.

Security, data privacy and control understandably remain as top concerns among IT leaders, particularly for public cloud use cases. While these concerns present valid obstacles to getting more companies fully reaping the benefits of the cloud, the reality is that heterogenous multi-cloud infrastructure is proving to be the norm. Companies that focus their resources on successfully addressing security and data privacy concerns while innovating with cloud can expect to achieve a significant competitive advantage.

We heard from a number of industry experts to glean their thoughts on the cloud revolution and ways business leaders can leverage the cloud for innovation, efficiency and growth.

Andrew Martin, Senior Sales Director EMEA & Managing Director UK at Egnyte: “Cloud adoption has been on a steep upward trajectory in recent years, with more and more businesses realising that the benefits on offer are too good to pass up any longer. The emergence of COVID-19 at the beginning of 2020 only served to accelerate this trend, as traditional office-orientated companies scrambled to put remote working solutions in place to prevent major business disruption. In April 2020 for instance, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, provided some powerful insight when he said his company had seen ‘two years’ worth of Digital Transformation in two months’.

“For some organisations, this has brought their entire on-premises IT strategy into question and the option of going ‘all in’ with an approach based fully around the cloud is an increasingly attractive alternative. As the service provider market has matured and become more competitive, barriers to adoption have gradually disappeared and many tech teams are building increasingly sophisticated strategies.

“However, pure cloud solutions aren’t a silver bullet for everyone, and modern hybrid solutions can help strike a perfect balance between the flexibility of cloud and the speed and reliability of on-premises. In these cases, organisations must still deliver effective services that meet the needs of users and customers alike.

“Taking the hybrid cloud concept a stage further, smart caching is an approach that optimises on-premises storage by automatically identifying files to cache based on business-driven policies. The process also removes files that are no longer relevant for users based on changing priorities and needs, and this cleanses files that are no longer needed or seldom accessed to make space for new ones.

“This not only reduces the number of times files need to be retrieved from the cloud, while the use of advanced data caching algorithms helps maximise the speed and efficiency of content delivery, while also improving the user experience. In many current situations, these file requests are supported on public clouds, and a hybrid solution deployed within a public cloud would provide the SMB protocol needed for these specialised applications. But by using a smart cache, the cloud is brought closer to the user with the result that their key applications, files, data and permissions are more readily accessible.

“Another benefit of this approach is that it can also help organisations significantly reduce network traffic by cutting hit rates for cached files and keeping local storage to a minimum. In addition, it takes the guesswork out of local caching and by reducing administrative overheads it helps admins focus on more strategic activities.

“As businesses everywhere refine their long-term remote and hybrid working policies, it becomes more important than ever that they develop their technology infrastructure to support the efficiency and productivity of workers wherever they are based. For some, an ‘all-in’ cloud platform offers the ideal solution, while for others, a hybrid solution using smart caching is a more effective route for delivering the performance and flexibility needed in today’s demanding work environments.”

Alessandro Chimera, Director of Digitalisation Strategy, TIBCO: “There is no doubt that cloud adoption will accelerate and become ubiquitous in 2022. However, in the world of successful cloud adoption, there is no one size fits all solution. As organisations look to leverage the cloud for innovation, efficiency and growth, they would do well to consider the following anticipated advances in their respective vertical markets.

Financial services: Financial institutions, most notably traditional banks and insurance companies, have long been dogged by the challenges associated with complex and legacy infrastructure, siloed structures and security concerns. In 2022 and beyond, we will see a huge uptick in cloud adoption in order to positively impact business growth, refine customer analytics and ensure the levels of regulatory compliance required by the industry. Additionally, we anticipate a marked growth in the use of AI for dynamic pricing, facilitated by the cloud.

“Telecommunications: Post-pandemic, hybrid work is here to stay. This does, of course, present a massive opportunity for those in telecommunications. Indeed, as telecommunications companies connect people and data, their role will enjoy a stratospheric rise as we shift towards a distributed workforce. Advances in 5G, in addition to increased adoption of AI and automation in order to expand connectivity will be key, all underpinned by cloud technologies.

Education: The pandemic forced education institutions to transition to wide-spread remote learning. As children return to face-to-face learning, there will be accelerated cloud adoption to help schools pivot, become agile and continue their efforts to deliver education during unpredictable times. To this end, cloud usage is on a positive trajectory in education as educators look to reduce their operating costs while improving efficiency and productivity.

Manufacturing: During the recent lockdowns, factories looked to become more remote-managed. This involved less skilled staff being assisted by remote and highly skilled technicians using Augmented Reality. Such operations required significant integrations between systems and applications with the development of APIs published as services. Additionally, we will witness more manufacturers adopting Digital Twin technology using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science for anomaly detection and to increase quality for higher yield.

“Manufacturing represents one of the strongest use cases for the cloud, resulting in two major benefits: business and IT efficiency. First and foremost, we will see greater collaboration between SMEs thanks to the breaking down of data silos and the introduction of exciting technologies spanning AI, IoT, no-code/low-code platforms and data science. When considering IT efficiencies, as we see a more cloud-centric future, the outcome will be less need for on-premises IT infrastructures and therefore a reduction in maintenance costs.

“While many organisations are adopting cloud technologies, few have maximised the cloud’s full strategic potential. Only by reaching for the skies can organisations future-proof their businesses and drive innovation to improve their competitive position.”

Neil Stobart, VP Global Systems Engineering, Cloudian: “As we head into 2022, organisations of all sizes will be thinking about how best to leverage the public cloud. It offers unlimited scalability as well as flexibility and eliminates the need to manage one’s own infrastructure. Over the course of the pandemic, many businesses have increased their use of the public cloud, but as many organisations have discovered, a purely public cloud strategy doesn’t always make sense.

“First of all, not all data is able to go to the cloud due to data sovereignty and compliance requirements. This is particularly true in sectors such as healthcare and financial services where data needs to be tightly controlled.

“The public cloud isn’t necessarily the best solution economically either. Beyond the storage costs, there are data replication fees and egress fees which can be significant when dealing with storage-intensive workloads. In addition, there are WAN connection, network bandwidth and data access charges to factor in and these can also grow rapidly for large datasets.

“Performance is another key factor to consider when choosing the public cloud, both in terms of the latency involved and potential unpredictability.

“For organisations that want to leverage the cloud in 2022, a hybrid cloud strategy may be the best way forward. This approach enables organisations to take advantage of the best that both the public cloud and on-prem, private cloud has to offer. The key to leveraging hybrid cloud successfully is the ability to seamlessly move and manage data across on-prem and public cloud environments, which is why S3-compatible object storage is emerging as preferred foundation for hybrid cloud.”

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