How to Leverage Emerging Cloud Trends Amidst the New “Normal”
By Pete Schmitt, CTO, cStor
Remember your sixth-grade history class on the Industrial Revolution?
Ok, that’s kind of a trick question, so you’re off the hook. Here’s a refresher: it was the time period between 1760 and 1840 when there were huge advancements in world-changing innovation and manufacturing processes in Britain and the U.S. The world was suddenly flooded with ingenious inventions such the Watt steam engine, the electrical telegraph, manufactured concrete and the Spinning Jenny (no, not your intoxicated aunt at last year’s reunion, that’s a high-speed wool spinning machine). I bet you didn’t see that one coming.
Flash forward 180 years to 2020, and it’s almost as difficult to fathom just how far we’ve come as it was for you to remember the Industrial Age time period. And I’m talking about ‘pre-pandemic’ times, let alone today’s ‘new normal.’ Overlay the current environment of masses of workforces now at home, data literally everywhere and rampant security breaches, and we have a trifecta of unprecedented challenges ahead. That’s the tough news.
Fortunately, there’s good news: the cloud has matured to a point that gives us a unique opportunity to advance how we effectively manage, secure and leverage data into actionable intelligence amidst this new norm. Even better, when done right, it can give you cost and competitive advantages not otherwise possible. So onto the emerging trends in this ‘new normal’ and how to leverage them to your advantage.
TREND #1: Time to Split Cloud Hairs
If you’ve never really given much thought to separating storage from compute when it comes to cloud usage, it’s finally time. While hybrid models have been around for a long time now, the reality is that your cloud compute resources need to be far more elastic than your cloud storage resources. Typically, storage is relatively stable and predictable, and you can ‘right-size’ that resource relatively accurately in both the on-premise and cloud environments. And if you need to delete, add or expire data, it’s typically tied to some clear and predictable event you can plan for.
Compute, on the other hand, can vary wildly and you may have unexpected peaks and valleys that are impossible to plan for, similar to what the world has experienced over the past five months. Elasticity is critical here, now more than ever, so this is where the cloud can really shine. Compute means unpredictable consumption, but with the right cloud solution in place, not only do you not need to predict the future, but you also don’t need to have as much control as with your storage.
So think of your compute resources as ‘points in time’ and on-demand resourcing, versus your data – an asset to be protected and maintained as such.
TREND #2: From One-by-One to All-In
Cloud adoption had previously been intentionally and cautiously step-by-step, with many organizations moving IT systems, applications and data one at a time. Check it post COVID, and that story changes dramatically, with many moving everything to the cloud in full-sweeping motions. The big cloud providers have been effectively absorbing the new demand and have the resources to continue building infrastructure to support scaling for the future.
However, that doesn’t mean you need to take an immediate and broad-brushed approach to the cloud. So, if you haven’t already, the best next step is a quick analysis of what your ‘new normal’ really looks like without the veil of panic and fear you may have had three or four months ago.
The other important note here is security, which simply cannot be sacrificed in a panic reaction to external world events. It’s important to maintain complete control of your data no matter where it lives, including physical and/or cloud location, resiliency and redundancy.
TREND #3: Adaptation and Agility Are the Names of the Game
This global ‘reset’ to a new normal is forcing companies big and small to evaluate where they are on the adaptability and agility scales, making the cloud an attractive option to improve both and to do so very quickly.
Those two attributes alone could be the defining characteristics of companies that are able to not only survive but to thrive amidst a world that may very well be in a constant state of turmoil for the foreseeable future.
Use the cloud to uncover new ways to update your strategies, processes, policies and tools to drive new value to employees and customers alike, but be sure to use a multi-dimensional lens here that factors location, regulatory requirements, user demands and costs. Some applications such as email are ideal for 100% cloud, whereas others will still require a hybrid or on-premise model and cannot haphazardly be moved.
The cloud is a critical component in the arsenal of every company running today on planet earth. The big providers are mature, ready and willing to support you, but it’s up to you to have a well-defined strategy that’s been adjusted for our ‘new normal’ world. Conduct an assessment to acid test your current strategy against future plans, and prepare to distinguish between storage and compute resources. The nature of your regulatory environment, users, customers, markets and legacy systems should all be factored in so that no proverbial stone is left ‘unturned.’ Ask your team key questions about it all, including ‘do we still need the buildings,’ and ‘do we need the same amount of data center space.’ If you need skilled resources to help with the assessment, drop us a line.