There’s clear evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated cloud adoption across industries. Sixty-eight percent of respondents to a February 2022 survey said the pandemic had “greatly” sped up their digital transformation plans and data suggests this momentum is continuing. Further, fifty-seven percent of IT respondents to a cloud survey in late 2021 said that migrating more workloads to the cloud was their top 2022 IT priority. The same report found that 37% of enterprises said their annual spend on the public cloud exceeded $12 million per year and 80% reported that it exceeded $1.2 million. Looking forward, Gartner projects spending on the public cloud will reach $600 billion globally by the end of 2023.
Why is cloud adoption continuing to accelerate? There are three main reasons:
- Organizations have built familiarity and trust in the cloud and gotten a taste of cloud benefits.
- Many organizations have reached the stage where they must migrate most or all of their workloads to the cloud to continue getting value.
- The pandemic was a dramatic illustration of the need to be prepared for unexpected changes.
Familiarity and Trust
Before the pandemic, many organizations viewed the cloud with a degree of reluctance because of the perceived risk and work involved in a migration. Executives and IT teams experimenting with the cloud often didn’t fully trust it, and avoided jumping in with both feet until the pandemic forced their hand. Now, some workloads (perhaps low-risk ones like DR or backups) have been running successfully in the cloud for months or years. IT has become familiar with the migration process and understands how to work with its chosen cloud provider better than it did before. IT decision-makers feel more confident in the process. Running some workloads in the public cloud may also have helped them understand some of the cloud’s more intangible benefits, like increased flexibility and agility, that are not as easy to quantify, but have tremendous organizational benefits in terms of accelerating development and customer responsiveness. Lastly, organizations may have built a relationship with systems integrators and technology partners that they now trust to help them with further cloud migrations. This greater confidence and experience will lead organizations to expand their cloud footprints as we advance.
Need to Continue Migrating to Keep Getting Value
There is only so much benefit an organization can get with limited use of the cloud. Many organizations have reached a point where cloud benefits have plateaued and they must now move all workloads to the cloud to maximize the benefits of a genuinely cloud-first strategy. Digital transformation has become an imperative across industries, as organizations seek greater agility, scalability and resilience. The cloud is seen as essential to improving time to digital transformation – In a recent survey, 93% of respondents said the cloud was important to their digital transformation strategy with 72% calling it very important or critical.
Fully embracing the cloud can exponentially add value by reducing complexity and allowing organizations to extend benefits with access to cloud-native services. This can accelerate product innovation, improve customer responsiveness, improve security (amidst growing cybersecurity concerns and the increase in targeted security attacks) and put new tools at the businesses’ disposal. For example, data from on-premises applications is siloed off from data in the cloud. By migrating those on-prem applications, organizations can use cloud-based analytics tools on all of their data to make better business decisions.
The Value of Preparation
When the pandemic hit, cloud-ready organizations had an easier transition to remote work and were better able to service customers despite rapidly-changing conditions. While very few could have predicted the scale and magnitude of the pandemic in terms of business impact, the experience proved that preparing for the unexpected is now a business imperative. Many organizations learned that the cloud is the new table stakes for being agile and adaptable, and are focusing on these projects in earnest. Analysts agree; IDC predicts that in 2022, enterprises focused on digital resiliency will adapt to disruption and extend services to respond to new conditions 50% faster than those fixated on restoring existing business/IT resiliency levels.
As IT leaders plan out the next stage of their organizations’ cloud migration with all this in mind, many of them face the same problem. Their business-critical workloads (like ERP systems or an airline’s flight reservation system) are seen as “cloud stubborn.” Applications that run in the data center on platforms like IBM Power, IBM i (AS/400), or AIX cannot be moved to the cloud without being rewritten (they’re based on the PowerPC architecture rather than x86). In many cases, these core applications have been optimized and highly customized over the years and even decades. Because of their importance to day-to-day operations and the perceived complexity and risk of refactoring them to be cloud-native, many organizations have postponed or ignored them when planning cloud migrations.
Fortunately, it is possible to migrate these applications to run natively in the cloud using solutions that replicate the IBM Power data center environment and enable applications to run in their native form with no or minimal modification. Once applications are in the cloud, they can immediately take advantage of cloud scale capabilities like capacity on demand and greater reliability/availability. Moving these applications to the cloud gives them not just more life but new value with cloud-native services such as advanced analytics, data visualization or AI/ML. Over time they can be gradually and incrementally extended to take advantage of capabilities offered by cloud infrastructure providers as part of an organization’s broader digital transformation initiative.
The pandemic didn’t just accelerate cloud migrations; it virtually guaranteed that there was no going back to pre-pandemic cloud usage patterns. Organizations are no longer questioning whether the cloud makes sense or which parts of their business will benefit from it. With the ability to move traditional applications from the data center to the cloud, there is nothing stopping any organization from fully embracing a digital transformation strategy that encompasses their entire tech stack.