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21st of November 2017

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Enterprises face significant challenges in unlocking the full potential of cloud enabled technology

The cloud has become inextricably linked to the future of IT transformation. Enterprise IT executives are faced with the imperative of cloud migration to advance capabilities, reduce costs, and increase efficiencies. The recent partnership announcement between Nokia and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to advance cloud migration capabilities highlights the increasing need to enable an easier transition to the cloud. But while enterprise IT leaders face the imperative to migrate to the cloud, many roadblocks still stand in the way to successful migration.  

The highly-anticipated advantages of the Internet of Things (IoT) and increasingly intelligent big data analytics further serve to highlight the need to move the cloud. Add to that the savings it enables – both in hard costs and time management – and enterprises that do not move quickly ahead are sure to be left in the dust by more deft competitors.  

Gartner predicts that some $111 billion in IT spend will shift to the cloud in 2017, increasing to $216 billion by 2020. According to IDG, by next year, the typical IT department will keep 60 percent of their applications and platforms in the cloud. Meanwhile, Cisco predicts that global cloud IP traffic will account for more than 92 percent of total data center traffic by 2020.   

Yet despite the known advantages to the cloud and a rapid shift to migrate to the cloud, new research by the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network highlights that enterprises are still in the early stages of adoption. As enterprises grow in cloud dependency and complexity, they are challenged to navigate a wide range of issues, such as managing cost, complexity, performance, compliance, business continuity, data and application migration, and more. IT executives are looking for answers, along with the right skill sets, management solutions and partners to win in the cloud.    

Companies are facing the technical challenges of moving and configuring data sets to run against specific applications in the cloud. They face financial challenges of reducing cloud spend by avoiding vendor lock-in. And they face compliance challenges associated with data sovereignty and corporate policies that require the migration of data to specific regional locations and clouds.

Additionally, exponential data growth requires deep questions in how data is analyzed. Growth in unstructured and semi-structured data that doesn’t exist within pre-defined data models or highly organized structures is a major challenge, and the cloud is now where much of this data resides. Digitization of content and information of all kinds has driven gigantic increases in storage requirements. New and growing sources of real-time data collection—from weather and seismic activity to social media, smart cars and a tsunami of IoT applications and devices—are all driving massive increases in storage requirements and a growing need to make sense of them.    

Businesses have a critical need to better organize and track this vast ocean of data, as well as to control the enormous costs and complexity of storing, managing and analyzing it. According to a recent IDG survey of IT professionals, data storage, management and analytics represent the No. 1 motivation for cloud adoption today.   

Other key drivers of cloud adoption cited by executives include the need to efficiently scale up and down to meet sudden spikes in user demand, the need for affordable and reliable backup and recovery, access to the latest and best applications without having to develop and maintain them, and the ability to concentrate internal resources on strategic business priorities.  

Multi-cloud is now the preferred architecture for most companies. The complexity of today’s enterprise IT environments and requirements, the mandates of geo-sovereignty, concerns about business continuity, the desire to avoid vendor dependency, and the various advantages of different vendors and cloud models are all factors that are leading companies to consider and adopt a combination of clouds.     

And while some companies are still primarily focused on running their own private clouds, most large organizations are moving to multi-cloud, hybrid environments that mix and match private and public clouds and on-premises systems depending on specific needs, applications and geographies. Those who haven’t moved to multi-cloud are at least in the planning or consideration stages.    

But with these new hybrid and multi-cloud models come challenges. New vendor and cloud management processes, multi-cloud data integration and management, and the need for better management tools and solutions to assist in the migration of data across clouds and between clouds and on-premises systems are among the issues on the minds of IT executives.  

Indeed, executives highlight that working with public cloud vendors has significant advantages but also brings concerns around becoming dependent on vendors who may not always share the same philosophy and IT goals as the enterprise. While any well-run company will do a great deal of due diligence in selecting its cloud vendors, things can change.    

Vendor dependency and lock-in—including the challenges of efficiently moving data and applications from one vendor to another—are important considerations in a multi-cloud world and will continue to grow significantly for many companies.     

The massive growth of unstructured data in the cloud and the mandate to better and more cost-efficiently manage, analyze, protect and migrate that data, has created a growing need for new cloud technologies and tools. The high cost of replication and migration demands new solutions that can more selectively replicate data and move it from one cloud to another without manual reconfiguration. The demand to mine greater insight and intelligence from unstructured data requires solutions that can better understand and organize data based on where it originated, who created it and other factors, and then move it to the cloud or cloud endpoint where it can access the right applications and analytical tools.    

The shift to hybrid and multi-cloud models is now in full swing at enterprises around the world. IT executives say their companies are realizing huge bene ts and will continue to move more of their infrastructure, platforms, applications, services and data into the cloud. However, most also believe that are just beginning to fully understand and address the challenges associated with this massive transformation.   

The cloud has provided huge benefits in coping with the deluge of unstructured data taking place today, but much remains to be done to make data more accessible, portable and addressable in order to further reduce costs, improve performance and enable greater analytics and intelligence.  

Organizations need to be able to more affordably identify, replicate and migrate data to take advantage of cost efficiencies, performance advantages and specialized capabilities of various clouds and cloud vendors. They need to leverage new solutions, such as cloud-optimized object storage, to achieve greater economies and exploit new opportunities for competitive advantage.  

Sally Lopez, Program Manager at the BPI Network 

Image Credit: TZIDO SUN / Shutterstock 

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