Analysing Australia’s ‘Cloud Rush’ during COVID-19

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Analysing Australia’s ‘Cloud Rush’ during COVID-19
Enterprises must consider which applications should be shifted back into an on-premise environment.
Photo by Taylor Vick on Unsplash

The rapid shift to remote working saw an unprecedented rush to the cloud as organisations needed to maintain business continuity and resilience.

Within a matter of days, IT teams had to transform the workplace, implementing fully digital processes for many areas of the business, including sales, services, procurement, and more.

Therefore, it’s no surprise public cloud spending across the region rose by 38 percent to US$36.4 billion in 2020. This trend is forecast to continue for Australian enterprises, with Gartner predicting there will be a combined spend of $10.4 billion on public cloud in 2021. 

As our economies remain in a fragile state, all businesses must continue to exercise financial prudence. Where the cloud has been effective in helping organisations respond quickly to disruption and changing work patterns, uncontrolled and unforeseen costs from cloud adoption in the longer term can be debilitating.

Now that the dust is settling, it is time for organisations to revisit past decisions and consider where cloud costs can be optimised, without compromising the desire to build back better.

The reality of cloud overload

Cloud usage within the enterprise is like a household’s electricity consumption model. Like how a utility provider manages a power generator on your behalf, organisations can rely on a cloud provider to outsource data centre maintenance while benefiting from built-in capabilities like high availability, scalability, and secure infrastructure. Like convenient access to electricity, cloud performance is built for remote access and operates under a flexible pay-as-you-consume model. However, leaving it on unnecessarily will rack up a higher than anticipated monthly bill.

After initially moving everything to the cloud, organisations are now having difficulties monitoring and managing consumption across their various cloud deployments. This is what we call cloud sprawl – or the proliferation of uncontrolled cloud use. This issue has resulted in 30 percent of cloud spend being wasted.

To avoid wastage, cloud agnostic cost optimisation tools that deliver granular, real-time visibility across the entire hybrid IT infrastructure are critical for governing and remediating situations that drive-up costs.

From ‘lift-and-shift’ to ‘lift-and-transform’

Many organisations that accelerated cloud adoption during lockdowns used a “lift-and-shift” approach. Lift-and-shift, where on-premises workloads are replicated completely in the cloud, is the quickest method to ensuring business services remain available to a suddenly distributed workforce and external users.

Not long ago, NetApp helped an international email marketing company lift-and-shift millions of files to the cloud so it could quickly scale its business. More recently, Australia’s Monash University turned to NetApp to manage the files that it was shifting to AWS’s public cloud. This facilitated data collaboration for its students and researchers, while allowing Monash to reduce its capital expenditure and scale cloud storage capacity up or down as needed.

It may be tempting for businesses to simply migrate everything to the cloud, but the reality is never that simple. While it is technically possible to perform any business task in the cloud, it does not mean that every on-premises workflow and application – in its present state or form – is optimised to do so. Businesses may face compatibility issues, such as the original code of applications running on outdated software. Unnecessary costs may also be incurred from the transmission of data across different locations.

Enterprises must therefore consider which applications should be shifted back into an on-premise environment, modified for new cloud infrastructure, or fully re-architected to work in any cloud environment.

The silver lining of cloud migration

As businesses recover post-pandemic, the $10.4 billion that Australia is projected to spend on cloud computing this year should be utilised carefully. It is not too late to switch to a better cloud optimisation and migration strategy – one that ensures minimal disruption to data-dependent applications and accommodates your IT budget.

To remain resilient in the months ahead, it’s important for organisations to work with the right technology partner who will align on value, while helping unlock the best in cloud and data.  

Paul Crighton is Managing Director ANZ at NetApp at NetApp Asia Pacific.

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