Cloud: An Innovation Engine – Softchoice Research Brief

As organizations prepare to rebuild and re-invent in the wake of COVID-19, there is little doubt we are entering new territory.

While unlocking new efficiencies and streamlining operations will be important, organizations in every industry will need to think beyond reducing costs. There will be a pressing need to find new ways to deliver their services, products and experiences. It seems that in this new world, the digital revolution will no longer be optional.

A recent Softchoice survey of IT decision-makers across different verticals and organizations of all sizes reveals the new role the cloud will play in re-thinking the concepts of innovation and business agility. Let’s look at the most important insights.

Cloud: The New Innovation Engine

For the past decade, the cloud conversation has orbited two key ideas.

On one hand, the cloud offered enterprises a way to simplify and remove some of the management burdens in the three-tiered data centers. On the other, the cloud presented new security and compliance risks, slowing adoption as some organizations hesitated to move critical applications or sensitive data to the cloud.

Our survey has revealed that the first of those central conversations has evolved, while the latter has stayed put.

In this new research brief from Softchoice, we explore a new trend: Businesses of all sizes, across all segments, are starting to see cloud as something much more than a tactic to “get out of the data center.” Today, they see cloud as the top enabler of new business models, new services and new levels of efficiency. But the path ahead isn’t clear of hurdles.

Challenges Arise, New and Old

We found that 37% of businesses have started to look to the cloud as an innovation engine, according to the data. Meanwhile, 66% of decision-makers said they intend to go “cloud-first” for all new workloads.

But perennial barriers continue to slow down cloud adoption journeys. Our research brief shows that skills shortages, lack of cloud expertise and the complexity of hybrid and multicloud deployments are resulting in failure and poor performance. At the same time, concerns around security, data privacy and compliance are also impeding progress in the cloud.

Cause for Hope and Proven Paths Forward

How are organizations adapting to drive cloud adoption, despite the hold-ups?

The short answer: They are investing in people, partners and new technologies. Our research shows that priorities for the next 2 years are boosting security, closing skills gaps and shoring up data foundations, all with the goal of clearing the path for cloud-powered innovation.

The Path Forward

Organizations today know the cloud will play a vital role in their re-invention efforts, but getting there demands a measured, methodical approach.

We conclude our report with clear advice for accomplishing on this mission. With our stages of cloud adoption, businesses can plan their roadmap for efficiency and effectiveness, helping overcome concerns and unleash the full transformative potential of the cloud.

Download the research brief.  

How a Pandemic is Driving Innovation

From grocery store clerks to physicians and nurses, COVID-19 made us keenly aware of the people on the front lines ensuring life would go on, and that we were kept safe. 

According to a series of new studies, businesses of all sizes are starting to look at the cloud as a new kind of essential service. With the shift to remote work and digital operations, innovation in the cloud has never been so critical.  

Cloud Adoption was Already Speeding Up Before COVID-19 

Numerous studies conducted just before the COVID-19 outbreak showed businesses were already expanding their journey to the cloud. A Softchoice survey of North American leaders found 66% of businesses intended to go cloud-first” on all new workloads. 

We also found that 37% of businesses were starting to look to cloud as an innovation engine, that is using cloud infrastructure to build new applications and services or unlock new insights from their data. At the same time, O’Reilly’s Cloud Adoption in 2020 study said almost half of all businesses planned to move 75% or more of their applications to the cloud by 2021. 

Along came the devastating global pandemic. Instead of seeing massive cuts to cloud budgets and initiatives, however, we saw IT leaders move to the cloud faster than before.  

 In one poll40% of respondents said COVID-19 was accelerating their move to the cloud. Meanwhile, 76% said the pandemic had led them to increase their spending on private and public cloud infrastructure services, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. 

 Why Cloud Innovation is Accelerating 

 All of this makes perfect sense when you consider what businesses are facing — and how the cloud can help them overcome it. Stay at home orders, social distancing and a radical shift in consumer behavior has forced businesses to rethink workplace experienceand go-to-market strategies almost overnight.  

“What you are going to see is an acceleration of more people going 100% to the cloud,” said Mary Treseler, O’Reilly’s vice president of content strategy in an interview with Tech Republic 

As businesses get back to (relative) normal, business and IT leaders are looking to the future with some uncertainty. They do not want to be caught off guard again, and they are looking to the cloud to shore up remote work and other business continuity capabilities.  

Don’t Take Our Word for It  

This pandemic-prompted innovation meshes with what we’ve learned through this year’s virtual Innovation Executive Forums. Two stories stand out from our recent event with senior IT leaders in Central Canada, showing just how fast innovation happening now. 

After COVID-19 shut down operations, an IEF member in the food retail industry worked with legal and finance teams to create a new curbside pickup and eCommerce application. The new app took just three weeks to launch. 

Another IEF member in the travel industry said his business lost almost 95% of its revenues in April and May. In response, the IT leader helped the business lay the groundwork to deliver more tailored, end-to-end travel experiences. He says IT has had to shift priorities and shorten delivery timelines to help the business survive 

In both of these stories, IT was forced to act quickly to keep the business alive and thriving. In each case, relying on cloud infrastructure, platforms and applications made a rapid response possible 

Speed Bumps Expected  

In our cloud adoption research, Softchoice found that security and compliance concerns were among the top hurdles keeping businesses from moving to the cloudBusiness leaders also struggled to recruit and retain the specialized talent needed to manage cloud infrastructure and control costs.  

Now that the pandemic has accelerated cloud adoption, don’t expect these challenges to disappear. In fact, because speed is now part of the equation, we expect these challenges to become even more important to navigate in the months ahead. To do that, finding the right partner – such as Softchoice – can make all the difference.  

 For more information on surviving and thriving in the COVID-19 era with cloud innovation, download our research brief, “Cloud: An Innovation Engine.” 

What to Know Before You Migrate – [Cloud Migration Checklist]

The drive to modernize IT infrastructure by adopting public cloud services and infrastructure is an established fact of business today. 

In fact, Forrester Research finds 76% of enterprises in North America and Europe have or plan to start migrating their applications to one or more public cloud providers[1]. However, many of these organizations fail to consider the cost and complexity involved in moving existing workloads.  

For example, applications built to run on legacy infrastructure often suffer from performance decline in the cloud. The resources required to rehost, refactor or redesign applications for cloud readiness are often difficult to predict. Meanwhile, there are many reasons that moving a given workload to the cloud may be a bad idea.     

Without a clear understanding of the business and technology drivers behind your move to the cloud and a clear plan to get there, you may not realize all the expected benefits of migration.  

Based on our experience helping 1,400+ customers move to the cloud, we created this quick checklist to outline the 5 steps to successful workload migration.  

Making a Move to Public Cloud? Read this First.  

 Cloud migration is a common approach to modernizing not only IT infrastructure but also the way your organization goes to market and reaches your customers (internal or external).   

Despite its growing popularity, however, cloud migration isn’t always easyCommon misunderstandings about what’s involved with cloud migration and how you’ll benefit can create confusion between IT and the business.  

 To dive deeper into the who, what, why and how of cloud migration, check out this Forrester report, Top 10 Facts Tech Leaders Should Know About Cloud Migration 

 Looking for help across any aspect of cloud migration and adoption? Explore Softchoice cloud services or check out these resources for further reading: 

 1 – “Top 10 Facts Tech Leaders Should Know About Cloud Migration,” Forrester Research Inc., June 5, 2019.