The adoption of cloud has expanded greatly over the past few years, and this trend is only expected to continue. According to the report Predictions 2018: Cloud Computing Accelerates Enterprise Transformation Everywhere by Forrester, SaaS vendors will compete more at the platform level, running portions of their service on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, or Oracle Cloud in 2018. The report predicts that more than 50% of global enterprises will rely on at least one public cloud platform to drive digital transformation.
At a recent GeekWire CloudTech Summit, CIOs, CEOs, business decision makers, and developers gathered to understand how to leverage that cloud growth.
The keynote speakers and panels covered many different and sometimes conflicting ideas about where cloud technology is going, the value it's adding, and the pace of adoption. However, the conversations always seemed to go back to one core question: why now?
The best answer to this question might be a perfect storm of market maturity, cloud service availability, and the readiness of businesses to make a cultural shift.
Cloud providers have been around long enough now that there are instructive and information use cases guiding cloud adoption. Specifically, these stories demonstrate what has worked and what hasn’t worked.
One delivery mechanism with widespread adoption is software-as-a-service (SaaS).
During the GeekWire Summit, Michel Feaster, CEO of Usermind addressed the impact of SaaS on cloud adoption “[We are entering] the next frontier where new categories are going to be created around reality and that reality will be the cloud.”
Part of the reason SaaS is instrumental to this new reality is because it is so versatile. Organizations running SaaS no longer need to install and run application centers on their own computers or data centers.
In addition to SaaS, IT leaders have developed new configuration and integration skills that contribute to cloud maturity. Today, they are coming together in new teams to better adopt and manage cloud, creating new content and applications that accelerate innovation.
“The role of IT is changing, skills are changing, organization structures are financially changing,” Feaster said.
The success of SaaS is, in large part, due to cloud’s flexibility and anytime, anywhere access. Geeman Yip, CEO of BitTitan said, “We are in a cloud era where enterprise applications are offered in a model that is easier to manage and easier to deploy in all aspects of business.”
Today, many organizations function in hybrid IT and multi-cloud environments. And many IT teams are providing more access to end users to ensure they can compete.
As more and more cloud services become available, businesses can cherry pick the services they need. Competition breeds innovation, and the breadth of services available today allows IT teams to create unique approaches that encourage innovation within cloud.
Feaster said, “Every organization is thinking multi-cloud. Whether its leverage or wanting to insulate yourself, there are a bunch of reasons to go multi-cloud.”
Yip also touched on this idea of multi-cloud availability by saying, “When you think about cloud, it’s all about multi-cloud. There isn’t going to be a single organization that solves everything. As a result, a new category called cloud enablement has been created. This is a huge category [designed] to tie pieces together because cloud is so fragmented.”
In this cloud native/cloud supported era, it is unusual to see an application that isn’t supported by cloud. There are even services that have developed to move items to cloud for you, such as containers.
Feaster said, “Multi-cloud is Linux all over again. To me, there is going to be one model for AWS. Multi-cloud containers are where value moves. It’s essentially just being repeated.”
“The mindset of the organization is key,” Yip said, “and [so is] making that mind shift to the front office from the back office. There are a ton of applications where decisions are being made by the front office instead of the back office because it’s faster and the organization wants to save costs.”
When it comes to culture, many factors need to align for the shift to happen. Yip said, “When you look at cloud, it is about timing. Cloud is encouraging the adoption of a serverless type of environment.”
Culture shift is important, but you need to be aware that the change itself might not go smoothly, which is why it’s important to assess readiness.
Charu Jan, CIO of Alaska Airlines, mentioned how Alaska went through significant changes culturally when they began their cloud migration. Specifically, the organization changed when it employee’s skill sets with the cloud changed. They saw teams deliver and push code faster, utilize DevOps to improve skill logs, and increase the e-commerce program. These changes had a positive impact on the overall function of the business.
Today, availability, maturity, and culture shift have coalesced to create the right conditions for cloud adoption. The perfect storm has arrived and organizations are embracing it.
Sarah Bergstrom-Leach is a recent graduate of Washington State University and is currently working on an internship in corporate communications at Apptio.