What did we learn in 2020?

January 15, 2021 Claranet Limited

Prabhat Handoo
Hybrid Cloud Consultant

2020 was a year like no other. We all had to massively adapt overnight, and the pace of change continued to accelerate over the following months.  

I have spoken to many customers about their experiences throughout last year, and their concerns and problems are not different from each other. In the following points, I see customers of all sizes having to adapt their technology to remediate some of these problems. 

Business Continuity Planning 

With more and more businesses adopting remote working, it is evident that going to offices in the morning rush hour is quickly becoming a far distant memory for many. At the start of the first lock down, I was mighty impressed with the way Claranet embraced the work from home technology and culture behind it. There were a couple of trial runs planned, and the following Monday we were all working from home. The business was ready to go on this long journey. An easy transition to this was only possible as most of the technology used was already on cloud.  

End-User Computing 

I am sure most of us will relate to this. I have spoken to more customers keen on VDI solutions like Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), Citrix, or Amazon Workspaces in the last ten months than I have in my entire 15-year long career. 

In mid-March, Microsoft sped up the release of WVD to its customers that lead to a 700%+ capacity for Azure. Claranet has been a key partner for Microsoft Azure in conducting Proof of Concepts (PoC) for WVD and rolling out production deployments. Organisations have realised that this was the time to get away from the RDP farms and move to a more cloud-based end-user computing. We were one of the first partners in the UK to help a large construction enterprise conduct a PoC, even when WVD was in Preview mode back in September 2019. 

Work from home will be the new normal, and businesses will need to adapt to more modern ways of working. With ongoing cloud adoption, organisations will be able to find the transition smooth. 

Migrating Critical applications to Cloud 

Claranet has the experience of migrating more than 1000 critical applications to cloud – we often speak of this and have a fantastic track record. Whilst data centre migrations can help with moving to an OPEX model and reduce the ongoing cash flow, it takes time to do so. But the best way to begin this is by looking at your business-critical applications and migrate them to the cloud. This will allow you to migrate in a phased manner to the cloud within the next 12 months.  

Cloud Adoption and Managed Services 

Organisations have realised that running infrastructures in an agile approach and at scale need to consider where it runs. Unfortunately, some organisations have struggled with this. Primarily, because the cost of doing nothing has always been seen as a plus point. Cloud often is thought to be expensive but the reality is if you do it the sophisticated way, the cost is far less than doing nothing. Covid-19 has been a compelling event for organisations to embrace cloud adoption. 

Mass Migrations 

Businesses understand that staying in the on-premise world of data centres is not going to make the transition smooth. Cloud offers the agility to turn off unwanted IT very easily. It is a smooth way of saving the costs of running your infrastructure and efficiently running critical applications.  

Competitive Edge (CE) - Claranet's cloud adoption framework - makes it easy for organisations to understand if they should move to cloud. If they do, where should they move based on the workloads they have. In the last six months, using this framework, several medium-large sized organisations have been able to find a business case for this change. CE is a deliverable-based, outcome-based professional services engagement, that helps you find the right path for your cloud journey. 80% of the opportunities that I have worked on in the last six months are around CE. And that is a real-life problem, solved by CE and our engagement-based approach.  

Significantly, hyperscalers like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have stepped forward in supporting such transitions using their funding programs like AMP, PSF, and MAP. Customers can leverage these programs to ensure they have a business case to support these mass migration programs.  

Managed Services 

Keeping the lights on is a critical aspect of BAU support. However, the real win is in innovation whilst keeping the lights on. Cloud support, or managed services, is a human capital-intensive division of IT departments, and now is the right time to outsource to Managed Services Partners like Claranet, a world leader in MSP – one of only five MSPs in the world to have the highest level of accreditation with AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google.  

The cost of outsourcing managed services is far less than running an internal team of three-to-five engineers supporting your cloud environments. And in return, you have an army of specialists who not only ensure the systems are running with a 99.95% SLA, but can also innovate and continuously improve.  

Organisations are looking for partners who not only provide cloud managed services but also the technical expertise that provides a roadmap of where they want to be, and how to get there. The modern era of managed services focuses on modernisation of the infrastructure while keeping the lights green on their systems. 

Cost Optimisation a.k.a FinOps (Financial Operations) 

Let's admit it, cloud gives the flexibility to do things right. A penny saved is a penny earned. Organisations already on cloud have come under severe pressure to reduce their spend. Sometimes it is just a matter of rightsizing the instances, Reserved Instances, or moving to Spot Instances. Organisations should work with their partner to help identify the areas where they can save costs. 

Moving applications to a PaaS model can be cost-effective but going on the journey to PaaS can be tricky. Shutting down unused and unwanted cloud resources can be handy, but finding the right direction and path is essential. With our FinOps offering, we make it right and help you save costs with short- and long-term wins.  

Application Development and DevOps in Cloud 

These uncertain times require organisations to try new business models and introduce new products and processes as a GTM strategy. While a travel specialised app or Forex business has struggled to scale down, an online retail website has made record-breaking sales - I have seen customers on both sides of the coin. 

Cloud is the best place to build these apps in a very short period of time, and if you use serverless functions like Amazon Lambda, Microsoft Functions, it will help in less overhead in managing the availability of these apps. DevOps is another aspect that companies find a need to move towards and reduce human intervention and dependency on technological resources. With working from home now the new normal, it is key that businesses have defined automation, testing, and release processes that can easily be achieved on cloud.  

Data Lake on Cloud and Analytics 

It has been evident in these times that several organisations have realised they don't know enough about their data to make some critical business decisions. The data sources are scattered all over the places, and there is no way to bring them together, and then make sense of it. 

Data is the new gold as they say, but to make use of different sources in various formats in varied database technologies, you need technology to streamline it. AI and ML adoption will grow when your data is in the right place and in the right frame. With Amazon Redshift, Google Bigquery, and Azure Datawarehouse, it makes it easy and process-oriented for your data to be in one single place.  

Now is the best time to start building your Data Lake on cloud. We have successfully built a data lake on AWS using Redshift, serverless technologies, for a large shipping and mining organisation that has helped them channel costs and focus on where they should be.  

I see the cloud adoption at its peak more than ever. IT is an industry that has the potential to thrive and do greater good for the economy and the world. IT needs to be modernised and done better more than ever. Covid-19 has led people to think about how they run their IT and where they run it. Nearly a year on we are busier than ever, helping our customers to do amazing things in cloud. 

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