Leaving a Legacy

30 May 2019

Francis Bell is a newcomer to the cloud community. In this article he shares his insights upon joining the industry, and considers the choice and pace of change that cloud technologies can offer.

Let’s be clear from the beginning, I’m new to technology.

Perhaps more accurately, I’m new to new technology. Before joining Cloud Gateway in February 2019, I worked in physical media, specifically in book printing. Switching from an industry with roots dating back to the 15th Century, to one at the forefront of innovation was quite a shock to the system! The last few months have been a steep learning curve, but intensely rewarding too.

I’m proud to say I now work in an industry brimming with talent and innovation. Development of cloud technologies, AI, machine learning, and big data is accelerating at a blistering pace. We can’t blink without a new application being launched, ready to be prodded, broken and rebuilt again. Not everything works perfectly, not everything flourishes, but this fervour to innovate and transform is truly exciting.

Organisations are embracing this pace of change by adopting cloud first strategies, positioning themselves in multiple cloud environments so that they can consume the very best cloud offerings. In the public sector too, entities are encouraged to consider cloud solutions before all else, and to use the internet as the backbone of pan-government connectivity. We are clamouring for change, shedding ‘old tech’ wherever we can, in an attempt to make our businesses more agile, flexible, and crucially, more cost efficient.

Cloud is undeniably an opportunity, even a necessity for business development, but we must temper our enthusiasm. Before cloud can deliver the benefits and value it promises, we need to unpick the tangled legacy left behind by others. A nasty task, but absolutely essential.

Every part of the network, applications, systems and products, needs to be assessed both individually and as a collective. What are the requirements? What’s the right tool for the job? What are the interdependencies within my infrastructure? Is this still secure? An unceremonious ‘lift and shift’ simply isn’t feasible in most cases, and will introduce risk to the business and its stakeholders.

Even with the best Cloud Readiness Assessments and governance, we should be realistic. As a newcomer to the industry, even I can predict that on-premise infrastructures will remain, in some capacity, for years to come. Whilst this may be perceived as a negative statement, or a barrier to digital transformation, it’s quite the opposite. There are a number of options between here and an ‘everything cloud’ utopia. One of which is to go hybrid.

It’s common for enterprises to ‘fall into’ operating a hybrid cloud environment purely through circumstance rather than by design. Some applications are easier to shift to the cloud than others, resulting in a scenario where companies find themselves maintaining both cloud and on-prem services simultaneously. Often, this setup actually turns out to be extremely useful if managed correctly.

Hybrid cloud environments allow businesses to harness the connectivity and security of their ‘old tech’, whilst also providing a platform to develop and innovate. This enables faster speed of deployment, improved scalability, and business continuity during digital transformation. By utilising hybrid cloud, enterprises can embrace the choice and pace of change they demand, in a controlled manner, within an agile network.

Of course, this isn’t workable for all organisations, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ cloud solution. In fact, there is no obligation to shift everything, or anything to cloud if it isn’t right for the business. One of the many things I’ve learned over the last few months is that technology should be a vehicle to enable change, we shouldn’t adopt it for its own sake.

Whilst our methods to transform and our measures of success will differ, we should all pause to assess exactly what we want from cloud before initiating change. Only by taking a considered approach, and resisting the hype just a little, can we leave a technology legacy ready for the next disruptive innovation.

Hybrid Cloud
The Agile Network
Francis Bell