How has this year changed our approach to cloud technology?
The first question posed by moderator Jon Bernstein to the roundtable of technology leaders proved to be the most important: 2020 has been a pivotal time for the solution and businesses of all sizes have had to react quickly.
Keith Baxter, CIO, Anthony Nicholas Group, believed the year has expedited cloud projects, putting strains on teams to support on-premise investments. “New ways of working have emerged changing the way we interact, and a dynamic shift of our footprint has put further emphasis on risk. We need to register how we do business and refocus on our business, why we do what we do.”
Tiger of Sweden’s CIO Rod Kilgour agreed, but offered more personal anecdotes on how it has affected his company:
“Cloud has accelerated the separation from our sister company: my strategy is cloud-first and we’re asking for a multi-million pound investment to shift from old legacy models to standard, best practice cloud.”
The benefits of cloud in an unpredictable market made the solution even more apetizing for Kilgour who was already seeing strains in relations between different generations of technology specialists at the brand.
“There is some tension between clinging on to what you know…I’ve recruited a younger team with a new way of doing business, which has created an ‘us’ and ‘them’ narrative. The resolution is to separate the companies so we can be more cloud-focused.”
From South Africa, Kaelo’s Chief Data Officer offered a viewpoint from a different perspective. Kaelo providesSouth Africans with a range of products and services that improves their access to healthcare. From digital products that bridges private and public healthcare services, to technologies that monitor healthcare tariffs, Kaelo is working to digitize health and wellbeing. Cloud is continuing to be vital, said Vukosi Sambo.
“South Africa has always recognized the trend to embracing cloud technology but we were moving much slower than other regions prior to COVID-19. Then, this year, we moved at 10-times the speed. It’s an acceleration of an existing journey.
“We saw an acceleration, too,” said Nick Giannakakis, Motor Oil’s Group CIO. “The new situation of cloud acceleration helped us internally to grow the pace of our digital transformation. Our internal digital workspace adoption rates, for example, grew 90 percent. We also accelerated our investments and brought forward strategies to advance the business that we had had in conversation prior [to the pandemic].
“This was an opportunity to not delay any exciting projects.”
Next to offer their thoughts was a cloud provider. Rob Tribe is Nutanix’s Regional SE Director, Western Europe, and has spent 2020 mapping out the changing landscape for cloud technology in a pivotal period.
“As a provider we’ve been hearing these conversations across the year. What we’re seeing is an acceleration of integrating public and on-premise cloud services—that takes some time.
“Customers are also focusing on certain components. One, resilience: being able to put in place better automation for delivery of service and renewing emphasis on generalist skills so the entire team are capable of managing problems as a whole, rather than a group of specialists. The second is remote access. Video on demand solutions went to the top of the list quickly—unsurprisingly—but because of security concerns they, too, are not easy fixes.”
The tension of security
Security concerns were a key feature of the debate, and have been for as long as the cloud has been around. In the current climate of remote working, however, this has gone from concern to business-critical. How are these leaders balancing the opportunities of cloud with its risks?
“I’m working closely with the CIO to understand what security requirements are expected of us,” said Sambo. “We’ve made good progress on cloud security, making it far more than just an aspect of our data strategy, so that we can all collaborate on the task and build a more comprehensive security brief.”
Giannakakis echoes those sentiments.
“Our relationship with the CISO has tightened in 2020 and what we have learned is how to deal with priorities. Two-factor authentication was a priority for our remote workforce so we began there, then moved forward. In fact I’d say remote working forced us to analyze [our security] much better.”
The conversation pivoted between the new responsibilities of technology leaders within cloud solutions and the relative strengths between on-premise, public, private and hybrid. Although the leaders couldn’t agree on a market leader they all recognized that their businesses require a solution to operate in a new normal.
What will 2021 look like?
‘There’ll be an acceleration of the hybrid cloud model; think cross cloud management planes with a single interface to manage mission-critical applications, seamlessly.”
“Well, we’re very much looking forward to that future,” quipped Bernstein.