Cloud computing has been on the rise as a part of business strategy for years, but recent world events have thrown into stark relief how critical it can be. The COVID-19 pandemic has both created and necessitated dramatic changes across the board, including supply chain management, in-store retail experiences and workforce deployment.
Businesses across the spectrum have found that the kind of agility and adaptability that are inherent to a cloud-forward model have allowed them to respond effectively to these fluctuations, whether it’s meant accommodating remote work or accounting for changing customer behavior.
In the wake of this crisis, the impetus driving migration to the cloud has only grown stronger. And cloud computing is constantly evolving; organizations looking to pivot toward it must not only navigate the current state of play, but also build with an eye toward the future. Those that are able to adapt stand to benefit in an increasingly competitive space.
To find out how, hear from the expert voices operating on the cutting edge of cloud computing.
The state of the move to the cloud
There are a number of motivators pushing businesses toward the cloud today, and Alex Feiszli, founder and CEO of cloud solutions firm Gravitl, points out that most enterprises and large businesses are in some form of migration to the cloud. “A lot [of organizations] already have a strong foothold in the cloud, and a lot are exploring more of a hybrid approach. It’s migration to the cloud of existing things while also modernizing to the new stuff that tends to be on the cloud.”
Businesses that have undergone this transition typically find themselves positioned to cope with a competitive landscape in flux. “We closed our last data center in 2020,” says Allison Perkel, vice president of engineering for Capital One. “Even before that, with the way we utilize data and the way we’ve been utilizing our machine learning base and general innovation, taking part of these technologies really allows us to respond very, very quickly in real-time to things that are happening. That’s one of the technological achievements of being all-in on the cloud.”
Building for the future: culture
It’s not enough to transition a company’s application infrastructure from data centers to a cloud service provider and call it a day — what Feiszli calls a “lift and shift” approach. The technology fueling the cloud isn’t static, and so businesses have to work to future-proof their strategy to accommodate for new technologies, new demands and whatever comes next. Achieving that level of responsiveness requires a unified, cross-disciplinary cultural approach that allows for flexibility and developmental agility.
“It’s not just an engineering decision, not just a product decision, not a product and engineering decision,” Perkel says. “It’s a company decision. Your sales teams, your marketing teams, your CEO, your CFO, you have to have alignment that, yes, this is the right thing to do. That can be a little bit slow, but once we have that consensus, it’s like a lightning bolt. At the scale we’re at, it’s a profound, transformative, amazing environment to be a part of.”
That strategic cultural transformation filters down to operations. Where traditional development typically begins with a product in mind, the agile way of doing things focuses instead on the need being served, and works from there. “When you talk about a traditional way of developing an application, you would say, ‘We are going to build a car,’” Feiszli says. “The agile way of doing it would be to say, ‘We want a thing that moves people faster.’ And then you come out with a skateboard. The next month, you build a bicycle. You iterate, you can do a motorcycle, and then finally a car, and the thing is, that second team’s car tends to be a lot better, because they learned all these things about the requirements while they were going.”
Cloud governance: the way forward
Development is only one part of the puzzle. Once a business has pivoted to the cloud, operational governance becomes key. Managing operations in a cloud environment and making sure that your cloud policies are in compliance are poised to be areas of great growth as more businesses make the transition.
“This space is definitely one that’s going to take off as we go into the vastly increased complexity that you have when it comes to managing and operating in the cloud,” Perkel says. “Especially as complexity gets larger, especially as we begin to see companies realize that being well-governed impacts the bottom line profoundly. And having a better view of all these pieces leads to a better customer experience, as well.”
Navigating governance requires the creation of cloud infrastructure that’s modifiable, and which combines in-house development with modular third-party tools. The result is a cloud that is elastic and adaptable. “You could destroy a piece of your infrastructure, and it doesn’t matter,” Feiszli says. “You’re trying to build something that’s resilient and easily re-creatable. A lot of teams will practice this, where they’re able to completely destroy and create their entire architecture with a single button click.”
Creating this type of governance infrastructure could also position businesses to handle future evolutions in cloud computing that increase complexity by further distributing a company’s digital footprint. “As you expand the amount of things you need to keep tabs on, you need to know how they’re operating,” Perkel says. “Is this still communicating? Am I still getting information out? All these pieces form into governance; all these pieces form into auditability when things stop working. You can glean tremendous insights into what’s going on at your edge, or what’s going on in your traditional cloud environment.”
The cloud of tomorrow
The time to start strategizing around that edge is fast approaching. Even as more businesses transition to a traditional cloud model, new innovations are remaking the way in which computing in the cloud is done.
Defining the future of the cloud
“The frontiers, I would say, are in the places where you are experiencing more than just your cloud,” Feiszli says. “It’s taking that extensibility that the cloud offers and just taking it a level further. And this goes into several different areas. A lot of people have put a lot of resources into pushing everything into a specific cloud and having everything run there, and that’s totally fine, and that’s a valid pattern. But a lot of people need to run stuff that isn’t just in one cloud or in one location.”
In the end, what may most define the cloud’s adoption into the mainstream and overall evolution is the way companies see how this technology can better support the way they do business. “There are some serious revolutions, transformations, paradigm shifts happening,” Perkel says. “And we’re seeing how these shifts really begin to make companies able to support their customers better, faster, take your pickup pieces and bring solutions out to market quicker and faster.”
From Capital One:
For more on how enterprise can become cloud-powered, visit https://www.capitalone.com/tech/cloud/