Embracing the cloud multiverse in pursuit of digital innovation

In this guest post, Stephen Gilderdale, senior director and head of pre-sales architects UK at Dell Technologies talks enterprises through the principle of building a “cloud multiverse”

We stand at an exciting juncture. Armed with lessons learned from the pandemic’s shake-up of normality, our digital futures have been fast-tracked and are ready to flourish. Never before has our cloud infrastructure been so thoroughly stress tested.

Divisions between those with matured digital transformation strategies and those just dipping their toe in the water have become apparent. At the same time, the cracks in rigid cloud strategies have become exposed. With a renewed appreciation for resilience, flexibility and agility, the cloud multiverse is ripe for exploration.

To put the last year into perspective, a McKinsey survey found the pandemic accelerated the digitisation of customer interactions by several years. Meanwhile, the respondents said their companies acted 20 to 25 times faster than expected – for remote working, this goes up to 40 times more quickly than they thought possible before the pandemic. Pushed to the limit, digital strategies had to flex, evolve and support entirely new workloads super-fast.

Many businesses, faced with the sudden shift to a remote workforce, rushed to the path of least resistance to solve their infrastructure expansion challenges: the public cloud. Now, several months down the line and with more time to breathe, the same businesses may well be counting the very real cost of those hasty decisions.

The cost-efficiency of the public cloud versus on-premise depends on the specific workload, and the ability to manage multi-cloud services and resources relies entirely on the strength of the cloud management platform underpinning it. Those who implemented sudden changes without understanding these intricacies might feel like they are operating in (expensive) cloud mayhem, but it does not need to be that way.

Organisations now have an opportunity to revaluate and take a more deliberate approach, tooled with the benefit of lessons learned. IT leaders can shift their investments and long-term strategies towards adopting a calculated multi-cloud model to ensure a more connected, automated, and distributed future.

This is vitally important as we look ahead to the zettabyte world. IDC predicts by 2025, worldwide data will grow 61% to 175 zettabytes, with as much data in the cloud as in datacentres. Companies in every industry and sector should be looking to optimise their digital transformation plans, particularly as new, more flexible ways of working look set to stay.  The real question looming over organisations is ‘how do I navigate the complex world of cloud to fit the demands of this ever-changing environment?’

To seize the cloud opportunity, we need to break it down.  Businesses need to look ahead and consider the future of cloud – and understand the nature of private, public, hybrid and edge environments.

Just as the business landscape is fast-evolving, so too are cloud environments – and there are some common and outdated misconceptions still held. For example, private cloud deployments were once deemed too costly and complex. But today, thanks to the likes of VMware or OpenStack, virtual private clouds can be built that are just as cost-effective as the public cloud – and can be easily integrated with public cloud services.

Today private cloud can offer interoperability, flexibility and a level of control that was previously not possible. It is an essential part of the cloud mix and best used for the sensitive data businesses need to keep close, with minimal transfers.

Know your data, know your cloud

But as new and more demanding connective technologies like 5G make themselves known, the speed and agility of businesses data management become even more critical. Enter, edge computing – the latest addition to the cloud multiverse.

Edge computing keeps data management at the same site as data-collection, enabling quicker response times for mission-critical workloads. It is the lifeblood of smart technologies and IoT innovations – but it also paves the way for 5G speeds thanks to lower latency. This is yet another string to the hybrid cloud’s bow: the diversity of cloud technologies means that businesses can tailor their cloud strategy to their needs.

We are at a point at which the cloud has demonstrated its value.So, for those businesses now looking to extend their investments, mastering the cloud multiverse is essential. That means IT decision-makers understanding their businesses needs from a holistic point of view: breaking down the different types of data, workloads and applications, and understanding the requirements in terms of security, availability, compliance and scalability.

Only by taking this considered approach can they hope to define their cloud cocktail. There is no one-glove-fits-all solution. Getting a handle on business data will be imperative as the zettabyte era takes hold and the cloud complexity intensifies.

Based on the previous year, there is no doubt that now is the time to act when it comes to preparing for a digital-first business. By first understanding an organisation’s data inside out and then having a solid grip on the benefits of the cloud Multiverse and all its elements, businesses will be in pole position to make sound investments that put growth first.

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