Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Achieving Effective Cloud Consumption is Key to Long-Term Success: Study

By Ian Rae, CEO of CloudOps by Aptum

As organizations continue to evolve three years after the pandemic, many are focused on developing and delivering IT strategies that will propel both innovation and growth. At the heart of this vision: effective cloud consumption through hybrid cloud architectures and ongoing investment in the optimization of cloud infrastructure.

Organizations are embracing more sophisticated cloud technologies to increase both innovation and benefits. But what are the specific business drivers behind cloud computing infrastructure, and what are the successes and challenges businesses are facing?

Aptum recently announced the first part of its Cloud Impact Study 2023, Clear Skies Ahead: Avoiding Chaos in the Cloud, which examined these questions and more. The study canvassed the opinions and approaches to cloud technology of 400 senior IT professionals from organizations with 250+ employees in Canada, the U.S., and the UK. Industries included IT/telecom, retail, manufacturing and production, financial services, technology, construction and property, education and more.

Cloud Benefits

Cloud continues to be an important part of organizations’ business strategies. Just over half (51%) of respondents say the cloud is a key part of their strategy to weather the economic downturn by helping reduce costs. That same number (51%) say they’re already seeing saving, noting their cloud investment is already helping to reduce costs. A third (33%) of respondents note cloud is vital in creating predictability and avoiding unexpected costs. 

But the benefits go beyond just costs: Almost half (49%) of those surveyed report cloud is helping to drive innovation and new services, while 48% say cloud data allows them to make better decisions, and a third (35%) say it drives better customer experience.

A Focus on Hybrid 

The survey found that overall, IT leaders are enthusiastic about adopting a hybrid cloud, and a combined public and private cloud environment that works alongside legacy infrastructure is becoming the de facto standard for many enterprise IT departments. 

In fact, 59% of respondents globally are using a hybrid cloud environment with a combination of public and private cloud services; 82% of IT leaders use private cloud infrastructure, while 77% use public cloud services. In Canada, 66% (or almost two-thirds) are using a combination of public and private cloud services for their cloud consumption while 19% use private cloud only. 

However, while the majority of respondents are satisfied with the rate of cloud transformation in their organization, challenges related to the management and optimization of cloud spending remain. A lack of visibility, skills and understanding of cloud infrastructure is resulting in the benefits of cloud not being fully achieved. Additionally, IT departments are facing difficulties as a result of a lack of understanding when it comes to the costs related to the cloud. 

The Importance of Strategy

When the pandemic first hit, many organizations rushed to get cloud up and running without proper planning and evaluation, and are now paying the price for implementing cloud without the benefit of a comprehensive cloud consumption strategy and effective FinOps practices. 

Key challenges cited by respondents included: 

• Integration (42%) 

• Delivering cost predictability (36%)

• Lack of skills (33%)

• Changes in technology (33%)

Globally, 73% of survey respondents agreed that cloud costs are higher than expected in their organization; in Canada, that number jumped to 86%. Many are still also confused when it comes to planning, with 72% of respondents agreeing that complexity and abundant choices make choosing the right cloud strategy difficult (compared to 77% in Canada).

While many organizations have a vision of creating a seamless service that spans on-premises, private, and public, this vision is difficult to realize because of the lack of expertise, mature practices, and effective tooling across multiple cloud technologies. When asked what is holding them back from using advanced cloud services, 42% of Canadian organizations said lack of knowledge in their technical teams, while 40% said resistance to change among their teams; globally, the top two reasons were legacy applications that need significant refactoring (34%) and lack of knowledge in their technical teams in house(31%).

While historically, organizations have often opted for a ‘lift and shift’ migration to the public cloud — to move quickly or due to lack of experience — many now recognize this approach to cloud computing falls short of delivering the expected long-term benefits due to rising costs and resiliency issues. Achieving the full business benefits of cloud requires re-architecting systems, applications, and processes to function optimally in the cloud environment.

The Path to Success in the Cloud

Clear Skies Ahead: Avoiding Chaos in the Cloud revealed there is a wealth of untapped potential in enterprise cloud adoption. By implementing effective CloudOps and FinOps practices, IT leaders can bring control and predictability to cloud costs across complex environments, resulting in more cost-effective cloud consumption down the road.FinOps is an approach to cloud that brings together financial, IT, and DevOps teams to manage costs collaboratively across the enterprise, while also helping organizations gain greater visibility of cloud costs. Specifically, this means IT leaders can plan more cost-effective cloud consumption for the years to come.

By focusing on three action points and emphasizing the importance of development team practices and tools — while incorporating DevOps and FinOps principles —organizations can effectively address the challenges of cloud complexity and maintain control over costs while ensuring business success: 

1. Conduct a comprehensive cloud assessment: Start with an evaluation of existing cloud 

infrastructure, services, and applications, taking DevOps and FinOps practices into account, and then identify any areas of inefficiency, redundancy, or misalignment with business objectives. By conducting this assessment, you’ll gain valuable insights into potential areas of improvement and optimizations, allowing for better integration of DevOps and FinOps principles.

2. Implement cloud governance and cost management policies: Develop clear guidelines and policies for cloud resource usage; this should include budget allocation, cost monitoring, and reporting, with DevOps and FinOps objectives in mind. Adhere to these policies, and make sure all stakeholders are aware of them. Ensure these policies are updated to align with business goals, DevOps, and FinOps best practices.

3. Leverage automation, monitoring tools, and development team practices: Leverage cloud-native or third-party tools to automate repetitive tasks — including provisioning, scaling, and deployment — in line with DevOps practices. These tools can help to identify and remediate inefficiencies, thereby reducing the risk of any human errors and ultimately streamlining cloud management.

Another important consideration is the implementation of monitoring solutions to track areas such as performance, usage, and costs in real-time. This allows IT leaders to proactively make adjustments in order to better optimize performance in line with FinOps principles. 

By applying these efforts and working with a trusted managed service provider, organizations can directly overcome challenges to find success in the cloud — ultimately achieving their business goals.

Learn more about the survey findings, cloud consumption action points and strategies in the full Aptum report here

By Ian Rae, CEO of CloudOps by Aptum


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