Why invest in cloud-driven transformation? This question likely sits on every boardroom table and circulates in most strategic technology discussions. Cloud is undeniably one of the most transformative technologies on the market today and it offers the organisation a resilient and trusted business continuity and disaster recovery toolkit, but it must be approached intelligently.
According to Jon Tullett, Research Manager for IT Services, International Data Corporation (IDC) South Africa, cloud transformation that allows for robust disaster recovery and business continuity can be anything from evolving legacy infrastructure into the cloud, to going deeper into cloud practices and outcomes that are far more strategic and sustainable.
“Moving into the cloud is a process, not a transformation,” he adds. “Cloud as part of digital transformation talks to the adoption of cloud practices and outcomes rather than technologies. It’s looking at the transformation to platforms that are scalable, flexible, self-provisioned, priced by consumption, not deployment, and highly interoperable and extensible through APIs.”
This level of cloud adoption is fundamentally more sustainable and robust in terms of infrastructure and is a profound transformation for the organisation. It requires significant investment and time spent on strategy, but the result is a business that is more responsive and resilient. A business that is capable of flexing and pivoting with far more ease than it could in the past. This introduces numerous business benefits that include agility, resilience, scale, and growth.
“Cloud technologies, whether public or private or hybrid, are far more capable of pivoting to meet business requirements,” says Tullett. “Companies with this level of cloud investment can deploy new capabilities on demand, move in new directions, and break down unused resources. They can shuffle and flex and adapt as needed – all highly relevant skills in a world defined by uncertainty and change.”
The industry also benefits from this level of cloud commitment. Indirectly, it benefits from the value derived by organisations in terms of performance and reliability; directly it benefits from supply chain transformation. As entire supply chains move through the transformation process, cloud capabilities introduce the integrated supply chain efficiencies that can multiply benefits for all. But when it comes to business continuity and resilience, this is where deep cloud investment really comes to the fore.
“It’s a lot easier for cloud infrastructure to rapidly provision resources or roll back damage during a continuity event,” says Tullett. “Applying legacy continuity practices to a cloud-era business is like giving a sports car a wagon wheel for a spare – it might technically get you back on the road, but it won’t perform to spec. COVID-19 was a superb demonstration of sudden disruption and transformed businesses were far better positioned to continue with just that, business.”
Adaptive infrastructure and ICT practices were what defined success in the pandemic, not just planning for a global crisis. Businesses with this level of flexibility are much better positioned to take advantage of new market opportunities, regardless of whether these opportunities are taking place in a pandemic or not. Thanks to cloud transformation, these organisations are more agile and more robust, however, it is worth noting that the business should not forgo additional continuity investments. While the cloud is uniquely suited to providing continuity solutions in a landscape that is consistently evolving, there is still the need to protect data, provision fail-over resources, and regularly test capabilities. No one system is infallible, failover is essential.
“There are several cloud applications that should be the focus of any investment with regards to building business resilience,” says Tullett. “ERP solutions offer a big win and CRM and HRM platforms are currently taking the lead in cloud transformation as well. There are numerous advantages to adopting new solutions and extending existing applications with new capabilities.”
These investments not only layer on resilience but allow for richer scope and scale when it comes to connecting partners and third parties, applying deeper data analytics, improving user experiences, and providing automation and remote infrastructure management. Having the capability to do all this without interruption during a crisis is immensely valuable, and it can consistently empower the business outside of crisis conditions. For the front office, productivity should be at the forefront of the business strategy. Cloud investment can provide users with access to modernised front-end services that are accessible from any device with streamlined interfaces that integrate multiple data sources and services. It is all about interconnectivity and data relevance, and the cloud brings these together, seamlessly.
“Cloud was invariably central to the process of organisations reinventing business processes and accelerating digital transformation during the pandemic,” concludes Tullett. “It is underpinning transformation if done intelligently and if aligned with best practice. The risks in the cloud are like those in the non-cloud world, so focus on minimizing security risks, strategic investment as opposed to innovation and hype, and trusted partnerships.”
Cloud does not remove the need to invest in basic disaster recovery and business continuity solutions, it just makes it easier to evolve these in concert with the rest of the organisation’s infrastructure. This is not the great panacea that will solve all enterprise problems, but it is an intelligent and customisable resource that can put the organisation on the fast track for innovation, disruption, and transformative infrastructure.