Opinion Report

Cloud in the Post COVID Era: Scale, Speed and Security

As businesses navigate the crisis unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring business continuity is the top-most priority. This includes the ability to align quickly to the evolving requirements. What’s enabling organizations to swiftly shift the entire work paradigm and re-align their operating models amid the uncertainty is cloud.

The pandemic has led to the emergence of cloud as the most trustworthy technology infrastructure on many counts, resulting in a growing cloud footprint among enterprises in India. However, the emergence of multi-cloud environment is adding to the complexities around migration, management and security.

To address these challenges, dynamicCIO in partnership with Tata communications, organized a virtual CXO Discussion around the theme ‘Cloud in the Post COVID Era: Scale, Speed and Security‘. The engaging session brought together 10 leading CIOs and CISOs as they shared their experience with cloud during the current crisis as well as discussed the strategy to mitigate the growing complexities.

Rahul Neel Mani, Executive Editor, dynamicCIO set the discussion rolling by highlighting the importance of cloud and how it has established itself as the new normal for enterprise IT in the current crisis. This is driving increased spend on cloud services, making it one of the fastest growing segments of IT spend. As a result, the multi-cloud environment is fast becoming a reality in most organizations.

He added that while the business transformation with cloud has indeed taken off, it comes with its own set of challenges.

Adding to this, Sridhar S, Vice President, Cloud and Managed Hosting and Managed Security Service, Tata Communications explained that organizations are creating cloud-led infrastructure and business models to adapt to the new reality. This is not only helping them respond fast to the crisis but also open up unlimited opportunities, and the next big question on their mind is how to stabilize it and create it as the platform for the future.

Talking about the key dimensions coming up in the service provider’s cloud conversations with businesses today, he explained, “Organizations are looking at how to optimize the infrastructure for the future with a very hybrid estate comprising of a mix of on-premise datacentre, cloud and sporadic SaaS applications. Looking at optimization in terms of where to retain on-premise and how much to take on to the cloud while answering critical questions around security, visibility, compliance and governance models is going to be important. In addition, they are also looking at how to bring in the cost optimization element with a managed service provider that they can trust and give the infrastructure to.”

Cloud has been a key enabler for the paradigm shift around remote working ushered in by the pandemic. Delving into that, Rajesh Awasthi, AVP, Global Managed Hosting and Cloud Services, Tata Communications explained, “As Work From Home becomes the norm for many industries going forward, the key is how do we make sure that environment is ready to support that in the long-term. And, that’s where organizations are going to look at cloud as a way to move forward.”

Subhamoy Chakraborti, Head – IT at ABP Pvt. Ltd. echoed this sentiment as he pointed out that the main reason now to move to the cloud is Work From Home (WFH). “Earlier the reason for cloud adoption was mostly cost and innovation, but now the main driver is the WFH scenario,” he explained. The company’s cloud footprint currently includes mobile and web applications hosted on the cloud.

As the discussion moved further, it was interesting to hear IT leaders share their experiences around how cloud is helping them business continuity and resiliency while responding to the current crisis with agility.

Jai Narayan, Head- IT at National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), shared the challenges from the dairy industry’s perspective, which includes working in remote areas where data collection, consolidation and payments for farmers is a huge challenge. For Narayan, being on cloud right from the start has paid off with running the operations smoothly. “We have set up milk pulling points across 15,000 remote villages, complete with IT setup and automation with minimum intervention. We are paying approx. Rs. 300 crores per month to farmers in a ten-day cycle. For enabling all this we are dependent on cloud.”

Sharad Sadadekar, CISO and Sr. VP – Information Security, HDFC Life insurance shared the incredible feat that the insurance company achieved with the migration of 600 workloads across 20 applications on to the cloud during COVID-19. “The migration to the cloud has given us a distinct edge and leap over others to provide a digital servicing platform to our customers,” he explained.

Ashish Kalay, Group CIO, SREI & Kanoria Group Companies provided an outlook on how he foresees the IT priorities of businesses shifting in the wake of COVID-19 and what the new technology consumption models will look like. He explained that there will be investment going into infrastructure like Unified communications, virtual desktops, etc. by companies that were sitting on the fence till now. He also emphasized on the growing focus around technologies enabling customer experience.

Resonating with Kalay’s views, Rajesh Sehgal, CIO, Hero Cycles pointed out that the company till now had been largely focused around the on-premise datacentre. However, the business continuity challenges that the pandemic brought along has mandated the need for cloud adoption. He further informed that migrating key applications to the cloud will be on top of his agenda as the business emerges out of COVID-19.

Neeti Wahi, Group Chief Information & Digital Officer, Sterlite Power too informed that one of the checklists on her agenda is to look at moving some of the infrastructure and applications to the public cloud.

Awasthi concluded the discussion with Tata Communication’s vision and how the company’s IZO platform is enabling businesses with an agile IT ecosystem with hybrid multi-cloud environments, security and network. He explained that the platform enables organizations in their cloud journey across all environments – on-premise, private and public cloud – while making it secure.

As organizations charter the roadmap to the new normal post COVID-19 normal, they no longer face the question of whether they are going to move to the cloud. Rather, the questions are – what workloads to be put in which cloud, how to enable seamless workload migration, how to improve user experience on cloud and how to simplify cloud management. And, most importantly, how to wrap it all up with a robust security and governance framework. This is where service providers like Tata Communications will play an important role by bringing to the fore strategic solutions that address these questions.

Image credit: Pixabay.com

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