Does the fear of an IT outage keep you up at night?
In the IT world, outages and disruptions come in various forms: power, network, supply chain, cybersecurity, human error, and perhaps the most crippling in today’s environment – a cloud outage. Recently, AWS had a significant outage that wreaked havoc across its own sprawling enterprise and across many businesses in the United States. It was a stark reminder that cloud computing is still in its infancy and that we must learn from this experience and pivot our cloud strategies.
As much as we might want them to be, outages are not about “fixing the blame.” They are about changing your business model to compete and serve your clients. Cloud deployments are complex and involve many different technologies and suppliers. Finger pointing does not fix the issues.
We’re still in the early innings of cloud, and this latest outage won’t slow public cloud growth. The ISG Index™ notes that IaaS ACV grew 36% year to date – its fastest growth rate since 2018. What the outage will do is help companies recognize the need to learn and quickly adapt from these failures. Many enterprises have fledgling cloud strategies and realize that cloud deployments and the integration of advanced technologies like 5G, AI, machine learning and automation must be part of the big picture.
It’s true that a cloud outage can devastate a business and cause significant damage to its bottom line. It can also harm customer relationships, which take time and resources to repair. Many companies are wary of the cloud for these reasons, but cloudaphobia can be cured.
The six areas below offer some therapy to allay your fears. To realize the greatest impact in these areas, you should consult with experts in each discipline.
Architecting for failure: Outages and disruptions are unavoidable. The question is how to minimize the risk to stay ahead of your competitors. This starts by having a mindset and a strategy that allows you to architect your environment in a way that protects you from failure. Firms must have a strategy that accounts for the following architecture facets:
- Software: Implementing open vs. proprietary practices will foster interoperability and lower the risk of vendor lock-in. Implementation of cloud native practices will also build a robust environment that can adapt to multi/hybrid cloud environments.
- Resilience: Cloud models must be designed so there is not one single point of failure within the deployed model. This is a critical element throughout the cloud design: IaaS, PaaS and SaaS.
- Disaster recovery (DR): Robust DR plans will meet enterprise objectives as well as regulatory and compliance standards for the relevant industry. Multizone, multi-geo models are readily available and should be a part of a cloud DR strategy.
Network: In many respects, cloud deployments are only as good as the networks on which they are built. Next-generation networks are business enablers and catalysts for digital transformation. They must be designed to improve stability and flexibility as well as to:
- Increase visibility and control with standardized and harmonized services
- Accelerate deployment cycles and site connectivity
- Employ an overlay/underlay model to maximize control and efficiency
- Leverage the network as op-ex versus capex
- Put customers at the center and improve the user experience
- Meet evolving threats and satisfy regulatory compliance with security controls, encryption and network segmentation
- Access regional and emerging providers and secure internet connectivity
- Stabilize the environment via automated tooling and leading best practices
Multi/hybrid cloud: In April 2021, an ISG study on multicloud environments found that of 300 enterprises in the U.S. and Europe all are leveraging the cloud and that most have multiple cloud instances. Figure 1 below shows that almost one-third (30%) of respondents use a total or two cloud infrastructure vendors and another 33% use three or more. Many enterprises deliberately choose multiple clouds to maintain vendor diversity, mitigate risk or access special functionality available only from a specific provider. A multi/hybrid cloud strategy is imperative for today’s market demands.
Figure 1: Number of cloud infrastructure vendors used
Security: The maturity of cloud security platforms has increased dramatically in the past 24 months. Native cloud tools available from the major hyperscalers – including Amazon Web Services, Azure, Google Cloud Platform – provide the basic protections you need, with readily available templates and easily understandable configurations to get started. Enhanced identity and access capabilities provided through third-party solutions – coupled with endpoint, container, DevOps and OT capabilities – provide holistic protections for hybrid environments. Network Security as a Service (NSaaS) solutions should also be integrated into the plans.
Governance: A robust management system with governance sponsored by the CEO and embedded in the C-suite management system will serve as a center point for implementing and maintaining a cloud estate that supports the goals of the entire enterprise.
Cloud Spend: Cloudaphobia can be exacerbated by operating in an environment that is not grounded in a solid financial management system. Are you paying too much or too little for your cloud services? Do you have a financial operations or FinOps model that incorporates all cloud expenses and holds departments accountable for their usage? Have you benchmarked your cloud providers and other companies in your ecosystem? Economics go beyond vendor management of the cloud and effect the overall enterprise. Sound financial practices are mandatory as you travel on the cloud journey.
ISG helps enterprises navigate the complex cloud market and design strategies that protect them from disruptions and make the most of their cloud investment. Contact us to learn more.
About the author
Bernie Hoecker joined ISG in September 2021. His role is to leverage ISG’s core competencies to expand and grow ISG’s presence in the cloud market. His focus will be to implement a cohesive cloud strategy across the ISG firm that results in incremental revenue and EBITDA growth. This also includes fostering strong relationships with service providers, hyper-scalers, and additional firms in the cloud ecosystem.