Cloud versus on premise – an inevitable migration

Cloud versus on premise – it’s a question that IT experts are asked on a regular basis. While the truth remains that there is no one size fits all approach, there is no doubt that COVID-19 has created an unprecedented wake-up call for many organisations. Cloud offers greater flexibility, more agility and new opportunities for innovation – and organisations everywhere have had a very powerful and direct reminder of the importance of systems resilience, agility, adaptability and scalability over recent months.

In fact, it is reported that cloud spending rose 37% to $29 billion during the first quarter of 2020. This trend is likely to persist, as the exodus to virtual work underscores the urgency for scalable, secure, reliable, cost-effective off-premises technology services. According to Gartner, cloud spending is estimated to rise 19% for the full year, even as IT spending as a whole is forecast to fall 8% in the wake of the pandemic.

Research by Accenture revealed that most enterprises have, on average, only about 20-40% of their workloads in the cloud, most being the less complex ones. Nearly two thirds of respondents claimed they had not achieved the results expected of their cloud initiatives to date. The challenge is that some companies have got stuck in an experimental mindset without a clear direction for their cloud strategy and others have struggled to make a strong business case for up scaling cloud migration.

As companies look to manage the uncertainty heightened by the pandemic, the enterprise focus has shifted to sustaining operations under severe disruption, flexing to address highly volatile customer demand and managing vastly increased needs for remote network access. While recent disruptions have reinforced the notion that cloud isn’t some future aspiration but a more urgent mandate at the heart of a business, a rushed migration without a clear strategy can end up costing business much more.

As always, a clearly articulated plan that is well executed by industry experts is key to success. A company must start by defining the value, mapping out the journey and determining how cloud will enable the overall business strategy and ambition. Accenture summarise the five essential elements to capturing the full value of cloud as follows:

  • Migrate and scale up: get your workloads to cloud rapidly, securely, and with confidence by selecting the right infrastructure for your business needs
  • Get the most from the hyperscalers: apply the innovations and investments from the big cloud providers to create value for your business
  • Modernise and accelerate: ramp up your organisational speed and agility by restructuring architectures, applications and data for cloud
  • Run and optimise: adopt new ways of operating that push your cloud estate to ever higher levels of business performance and sustainability
  • Innovate and grow: use cloud as a digital transformation lever, creating a foundation for rapid experimentation, innovation and new business models

Of course, cost and budget remain a critical consideration for every business. Even before the pandemic, businesses were increasingly seeking the ability to transition to a variable cost model for their core computing, storage or networking capabilities, utilising cloud style offerings and pay-as-you-go services to enable this transition. This has required business to review their internal capabilities, and to consider bringing in external resources to augment existing technology infrastructure and internal resource skill sets, as they move to a hybrid cloud architecture.