Q&A: The Future of Cloud and Evolution of Multi-cloud in Australia and New Zealand

Cloud services in the Asia-Pacific region are expected to deliver a compound annual growth rate in excess of 30 per cent from 2012 to 2016, according to the IDC. The way these services are consumed by organisations large and small is beginning to change. Businesses are starting to shy away from purely private cloud configurations in favour of more scalable and agile multi-cloud configurations. We talked with Rob Purdy, Director of Cloud and Tools for Datacom, on what this shift means and how Australian and New Zealand organisations can take advantage of what cloud has to offer.

Q: In your opinion, what have been the key barriers to entry for cloud computing amongst enterprise organisations?

A: There have been a number of key barriers for enterprise customers adopting cloud, mainly around security and sovereignty of data. I think that’s been a problem in the past but I think that’s actually becoming less and less of an issue as time goes on with cloud.

The other barrier is just pure knowledge. Knowing what’s out there and knowing how to embrace it and basically how to leverage it back into existing business processes has been quite challenging.

Q: What are the top three areas organisations should consider when thinking about using cloud services, regardless of the type or number?

A: One of the top three areas that businesses need to consider when adopting cloud is security. So considering, “How secure is my data with a third-party provider?”

The second one is sovereignty. We might have to worry about state and federal law in Australia, but also if the cloud provider might be based in the US, you have to worry about US law. Not only that, but they may house the data in Singapore, therefore, we’re operating under Singaporean law. So that basically creates a complex matrix of law that we need to worry about.

And the third part is really about IT and the business talking together, making sure that when decisions are made, they are cognisant of the impact they will have on the business going forward.

Q: How can organisations prepare themselves now for a path to cloud adoption?

A: Businesses can prepare themselves for a path to cloud adoption by basically getting IT to talk to the business. All too often, IT sits in the back office and thinks they know what the business is doing and the way applications are being used. I’ve been involved recently with a customer where, effectively, IT thought they had a number of applications that were no longer used by the business. When we went out and actually talked to the business, they found out those applications were still very integral to the overall business process. So it’s really important for the IT department to get out and actually discover what’s going on in the business.

Q: What are some aspects of the cultural shift that needs to happen for an organisation to fully embrace cloud from top to bottom?

A: The business needs to really talk to IT and IT really needs to talk to the business. The other thing is they actually need a change agent in the business who understands the way technology can be mapped back into business processes by using cloud. Maybe consider putting in a CDO or a chief digital officer as Gartner’s alluded to recently to help that transition of the business going from traditional IT infrastructures into cloud or multi-cloud.

Q: Up until recently, there seemed to be a big push for organisations to decide public vs. private. Recent research from firms such as Forrester shows that hybrid and multi-cloud approaches are becoming more considered amongst organisations. Why has there been this shift?

A: Yes, it’s interesting that Forrester has pointed out that it used to be people were thought just to go straight to public clouds, but over time, it’s been quite apparent that a multi-cloud approach or a hybrid cloud approach has been adopted. And really that’s because no one cloud solves every problem. It really comes down to the fact that you might need a number of clouds to solve it, whether that be on-premise with a private provider or a hybrid provider or even a SaaS application that still needs to integrate with the existing business process.  So I don’t think there’s one option that solves all business problems.

Q: How sophisticated does an organisation have to be in terms of cloud services usage or readiness when considering a multi-cloud approach?

A: Businesses don’t have to be that sophisticated in adopting cloud. The reality is that the business can actually adopt cloud without even talking to IT or talking to any sort of adviser. Rather, they can just go online, swipe a credit card and buy a SaaS application. What’s really needed is a strategy or a road map, maybe a framework, that’s quite simple but just talks to the way the business should adopt those services and clouds. It’s really important that when the business thinks about adopting those things, they’re already thinking, “How’s this going to solve my particular business problem?” and, “How is it going to integrate back into all of the other IT information that we’ve got?”

Q: Multi-cloud allows for more agility – how can businesses continually decide the best way to mix and match their cloud services to best align with the needs of the applications and business?

A: One of the things you need to be able to do is revisit your decisions periodically. Now, that might be once every three, six, 12 or 18 months just to make sure that you’re adopting the best technology for the best outcome. And one of the things that’s really important, particularly in cloud, is that you’re not locking into long-term contracts. The reality is that cloud is evolving so rapidly. Maybe making a decision on a particular software service or platform service or infrastructure service might be right today but, in six to 12 months, there may be something better out there.

Q: What business processes will we see transformed as a result of a multi-cloud approach?

A: I definitely think that the business processes that are going to change over time are procurement and IT mainly, and really that’s because the business can go out now and seek products and services without even involving those two departments. Albeit, there might be some governance needed around it from other areas, but the reality is that those two areas of the business I think are going to be affected most by multi-clouds.

Q: Multi-cloud equals multiple cloud services and providers and, thus, a lot of potential complexity. What should organisations do to ease the challenges around adopting a multi-cloud approach?

A: One of the things the business can do is put in those frameworks or road maps so they’re making choices cognisant of other decisions that have been made in the past around cloud. In addition, they can consider potentially using a provider like Datacom to help them along that path. There are other technologies as well that are evolving particularly when you want to manage data flows between applications in the cloud, things like BizTalk-as-a-Service from Microsoft, Boomi from Dell. There are things that are coming out in the market that will help customers manage complexity in multi-clouds but it’s really early days for this sort of stuff.

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