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Conquering the cloud

Conquering the cloud 

As businesses’ needs evolved, so did the capabilities of cloud technology. It expanded from a file storage format to a more comprehensive platform that helped to promote and popularize workplace collaboration. Further advancements saw the creation of the hybrid cloud, which combined elements of the public and private cloud formats.

Definition of a system

Many companies began to see the merits of cloud computing, and rapidly adopted it into their corporate structure, often with positive results. This helped to build its popularity, a direct result of “the pace of change within the industry,” says David Shacochis, vice president of cloud platforms for CenturyLink.

“It’s been an evolving discussion for business that have been looking at cloud delivery models through the years and seeing how they’ve matured.”

Enterprises weren’t always as tuned into cloud technology as they are now. Back in 2011, much time was spent trying to determine what this technology was, how it could be leveraged, and what adopting it would accomplish.

“In 2011, you had a lot of organizations trying to define what the cloud was, and thinking about what the cloud meant to their business or other technology strategies,” Shacochis says. “That was a senior management topic, but then it started to turn into more of a C-level and board-level topic where organizations were being asked about what they should move to the cloud.”

As time progressed and business-based cloud deployments rose, it soon became less of a question about what should be stored in the cloud, and more about what else could be done with this technology.

“What we saw last year in the adoption of cloud was (the fact that) it’s turned into a question of “Why isn’t there more in the cloud right now?” and “What’s taking so long?” says Shacochis.

“I think all that experimentation and the total evolution of business posture towards the cloud (resulted in) a massive shift in 2014,” he adds. “If we think about any technology trend, these things typically play out over a number of years. (Cloud) has evolved from “How do we define it?” to “Why aren’t we done moving everything there already?” over the span of a couple of years.”

Rights and wrongs

One could argue that cloud computing should come with an instruction manual. Just like virtually every other form of technology out there, there is a right and wrong way to approaching cloud, and the right attitude towards it could pay off in spades for an enterprise.

“The right way to approach cloud computing involves a hybrid approach. It may seem like a simple answer, but it belies a complex set of logic underneath,” says Shacochis. “Different workloads, applications and use cases are all going to have a different or better fit for which cloud delivery model they fit into.”

However the best practice doesn’t necessarily involve placing everything on the cloud. As Shacochis explains, the role of IT within the business atmosphere is also an important part of the equation.

“The real question is how you approach IT agility and alignment with the business. The move to the cloud may or may not be the right answer, but what’s always the right answer is how IT aligns with the business, and how it’s supporting what the business needs to do. It doesn’t matter whether IT is using cloud computing or not,” he says.

“If that particular service is not important to the business, or the resources they free up by moving to the cloud don’t necessarily impact or are reinvested to become more aligned with their core business, then that’s not a particularly important cloud migration.”

While these methods can certainly benefit enterprises, adopting the wrong approaches to the cloud can have the opposite effect, especially if it is treated solely as a form of technology instead of as a tool with multiple functions.

“I think the wrong way to approach it is as a technology discussion. Looking at cloud purely as if it is a technology is not the best practice,” Shacochis says.

“Cloud is a delivery and deployment methodology. It surmises that service-providing organizations can do at scale and with automation what individual organizations cannot,” he continues. “The ability to take advantage of that asset is something that needs to be woven into your own IT strategy that is aligned with the business. To think of cloud as a new thing to get certified on, or a new technology to consider for technology’s sake is the wrong approach.”

Looking ahead

In the past, cloud was the new kid on the tech block, a system that seemed unwieldy at first, but has since become instrumental in simplifying certain business processes. Shacochis believes the rise of cloud will give the employees of tomorrow an advantage, as it now a widely-accepted concept.

“The future holds continued innovation, and wave after wave of new programmers, start-up entrepreneurs and computer science graduates that are starting careers where cloud is the norm,” says Shacochis. “What I think we’re starting to see is this rapid pace of innovation in the industry where cloud is the new normal and the only way these organizations would even think about the data centre.”

Shacochis indicates that while the path to the future will feature some familiarity, enterprises’ abilities to conduct business and revolutionize themselves will certainly change.

“I don’t think the future necessarily takes us down a different path that we haven’t been on,” he says. “It’s sort of a logarithmic path where the level of innovation and entrepreneurialism and change are starting to increase at an exponential rate, and it’s because of how powerful these very traditional concepts like abstraction, automation and integration have become.”

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