Break down three common cloud strategy assumptions

The Cloud is for everyone: according to Gartner, spending on public cloud services is projected to reach $ 396 billion in 2021 and grow 21.7% to $ 482 billion by 2022. And by 2026, Gartner predicts public cloud spending to exceed 45% of all business IT spending, up from less than 17% by 2021.

But how much do companies fully understand the potential benefits of the cloud — and possible limitations — as they race to migrate? In an evolving, complex landscape, the current offerings of large cloud players may not allow for the important combination of flexibility and control that organizations expect today. At the same time, as companies move toward digital transformation, the number of business applications they use is growing in every department.

That means companies need to rethink and re-evaluate common cloud strategy assumptions as well as rethink some of their investment decisions. For example, businesses may not want to be locked into using a company’s software, and especially prefer to use open source software. The growing number of cloud software services with open source expertise offers competitive alternatives to the proprietary portfolios of public cloud infrastructure companies.

As a result, the form of cloud services — and the issues that organizations need to consider — is changing. Here, we address common assumptions around cloud strategy and what organizations need to think about to fully reap the benefits of the cloud.

Consider: Cloud migration can reduce cost and improve security

Two of the biggest arguments for migrating to the cloud are the opportunity to reduce overall IT spending and take advantage of better security controls. However, while there is potential for cost savings, in many cases, organizations pay too much for convenience, and costs can accumulate. For example, out-of-the-box cloud services are often more expensive than self-hosted, on-premises infrastructure when they are managed like legacy IT infrastructure. In the cloud, companies pay for flexibility in fast delivery, deprovision, and scale, and have the opportunity to use that flexibility to reduce costs.

That led to cloud repatriation: in 2019, IDC predicts up to 50% of public cloud workloads return to on -site infrastructure or private cloud to use the best option for specific workloads.

As far as security is concerned, the cloud may have more sophisticated controls that are easier to implement than existing in -place infrastructure. However, the decentralized nature of the public cloud could open up a more complex security posture — one in which the organization may lack adequate control. A recent IDC survey found that almost every company has experienced some form of cloud data breach. That means businesses need to consider and evaluate the objectives of their IT security environment in each area of ​​the cloud stack.

Consider: Sticking to a cloud provider is best for business

Even if it’s easy, many business-level organizations have found that the standard box model of a major cloud provider doesn’t meet its flexibility requirements. Sophisticated IT organizations can find opportunities to optimize cost and time-to-market by quickly moving workloads between cloud providers, and between the cloud and on-site.

It’s also important to understand that the “cloud provider” isn’t limited to the big three cloud infrastructure vendors — over time more and more ISVs have become cloud providers in their own right. For example, an advanced database user may rely on high performance, sophisticated features, and advanced configurations not available in cloud provider managed offerings. Also, if that advanced database user uses an open source database like PostgreSQL, they probably want that place on their service stack with a provider that is a core database company, not a infrastructure company that manages hundreds of other applications and services. Now, thanks to the growing trend of unbundling cloud services, organizations can regain more control over their database deployment in the cloud.

Finally, while hybrid architectures can reduce costs and increase flexibility, the data-centric nature of today’s businesses presents additional challenges. It is difficult and time-wasting to move data and databases, and it can be even more challenging to pause and withdraw from proprietary cloud data services. Independent cloud vendors can facilitate cost savings by unbundling cloud provider services, providing the freedom and flexibility provided through a cloud-agnostic approach.

Consider: The cloud is an adult landscape that cannot be changed

Cloud is one of fastest growing areas of IT spending throughout the industry. But as studies show that 92% of IT environments are already in the smallest part of the cloud, the adoption of the business cloud remains in the early stages of what could be a profound change for all businesses. Far from an adult, static landscape, cloud technology is constantly evolving.

A significant shift in cloud technology over the past decade has been the ongoing, drastic reduction in computing and infrastructure costs. Creating development tools and using programming languages ​​has become easier, allowing development tools to move away from the sole purpose of IT specialists, expanding to other organizations.

Finally, as organizations are primarily taking back control of the convenience of a public cloud, cloud technical expertise in different areas has spread to different service vendors. These providers have become even more creative in how to make a cloud service offering-such as a database as a service-that is not bundled from the public cloud infrastructure and has changed the definition of service management.

Cloud Evolution: A balancing act

While there has been remarkable development and a lot of energy and talk about the cloud, it is relatively early in the evolution of the cloud. What has changed as organizations have emerged from the early stages of cloud adoption is that companies want to withdraw higher control orders, rather than remain with a cloud vendor. That leads to a multi-cloud approach that involves deploying more dynamically between the traditional on-premise and public cloud: according to Gartner’s 2020 cloud end-user purchase behavior study, 76% of respondents reported using more than one cloud provider.

New independent software vendors are taking advantage of this evolving, evolving landscape, changing the form of management services to reflect customer needs and provide more expertise in specific cloud areas and open source platforms. Finally, as cloud services go through this unbundling process and move away from monolithic architecture, cloud strategy efforts will be a balancing act between control and convenience. Companies need to think strategically about what services to use from major cloud vendors and what services can be offered by independent cloud providers with the necessary expertise.

This article was produced by Insights, the regular editor of the MIT Technology Review. It was not written by the editorial staff of the MIT Technology Review.

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