The pandemic has served as a wake-up call for businesses around the globe. In an unpredictable future of ground-shaking events like pandemics, extreme weather and ongoing political instability, being adaptive to future disruptions is the best way for organizations to navigate through and beyond crisis. Today, business and IT leaders should be asking themselves where their organizations will be in a few years, and what technology infrastructure is needed to get them where they have to be.

The traditional megalithic on-premises infrastructure solutions typically deployed across most organizations is ill-equipped for a future that requires flexibility and scale to operate in. Those traditional systems just cost too much to setup, take too long to deploy and cannot scale quickly when it is needed the most.

Today the limitations of on-premises infrastructure solutions has led to the trends in moving parts of, or all of, an IT infrastructure from on-premises hardware-based to being more software-focused and software-defined. Companies are finding out that a cloud-based IT infrastructure is not only more scalable that traditional solutions, but is also quicker to deploy.

According to Steve McDowell, Senior Analyst for Moor Insights & Strategy, advances in cloud, AI, and storage have given organizations the flexibility and speed to scale when needed.

“We're reinventing how we do IT right now for the first time in two generations,” said McDowell. “Since we migrated from the mini-computer world of the late eighties, we're going through that again with cloud. It's a tremendously exciting time.”

In the on-premises hardware universe, setting up an IT operation and being able to support new business opportunities is a huge commitment and investment. Companies must buy servers and install on-premises software with all the related fees and costs. Now, with the ability to spin up cloud infrastructure services in either public, private or hybrid deployments, a new or smaller company can mitigate risk and decrease capital expenditure (CapEx).

When you consider moving your infrastructure to the cloud, the benefits are not just about cost savings, but enabling your organization with a new level of flexibility and scale. When it comes to delivering digital experiences globally at scale, and embarking on data-driven customer-centric programs, you must have the flexibility to scale up and down where and when needed.

“What the software defined world has done is enable companies to start and scale very quickly,” McDowell said. “It allows you to deploy new services rapidly, and enables businesses to leverage that technology to provide more tailored and customized services for customers.”

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Public, Private or Hybrid Cloud?

In order to future-proof businesses against disruption, companies need to plan for their cloud infrastructure needs not just for today, but for tomorrow. As a business or IT leader, it may seem attractive to jump right in and go full cloud and get rid of on-premises hardware completely, but that may not be your reality at this point.

Learning Opportunities

For many organizations a hybrid cloud solution, a fusion of on-premises, public and private cloud solutions, will be the way to go after business, budget and functionality requirements are accommodated. For many companies and applications, the public cloud can offer more flexibility and be easier to use than the more managed internal on-premises systems. Public cloud allows your IT teams to quickly spin up environments that can scale as needed.

“The most common reason a group would go public cloud is it takes too long for central IT to provide environments. If it takes central IT three to six months to stand up an environment, it's very frustrating,” said Gil Haberman, Principal GTM, Edge Computing at AWS. ”One of the things that the public cloud offers is an ability to spin up things immediately.”

While the public cloud potentially offers more flexibility and scale to IT departments that need it, there are a number of pitfalls both business and IT leaders need to be wary of, as a lack of governance and oversight can quickly diminish the benefits of the platform and increase hidden costs and maintenance fees.

“Private cloud is very well governed by central IT. They have a good sense of how much they are buying, how much they should be planning to buy, and who's consuming,” Haberman said. “In public cloud though, parts of the business were just spending without robust governance. And because it's so easy to spin things up, it means people just leave them running and forget about it. That's very common.”

Looking Forward

The shift from megalithic on-premises infrastructure solutions to a cloud-based approach is well on its way, and the need for businesses to react to the acceleration in consumer trends due to the pandemic will only serve to increase the speed of the transition.

For businesses that not only want to survive the coming months and years of unpredictability, but thrive and succeed in them, they should envision their long term plans for their business, and plan for a cloud-based infrastructure that will enable them to be adaptable to ongoing marketplace disruption with the scale and flex only cloud can provide.