Cloud adoption in a post-COVID world

Many thought that COVID-19 would cause the Great Cloud Slowdown; instead, the opposite happened. What will cloud adoption look like when the masks come off?

Cloud adoption in a post-COVID world
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I drew some big lines in the sand by predicting that the pandemic would cause a run on cloud computing. The pandemic quickly proved that companies leveraging more public cloud resources than their competitors and peers have much less exposure to risk than those that do not. Priorities soon shifted to cloud migration on the fastest path possible. The result is a pandemic run on cloud migration tools, experienced cloud pros, cloud consulting, and public clouds themselves. 

Most of us didn’t believe the experts’ predictions that pandemic quarantines and restrictions could linger until the end of summer, with another spike during flu season in the fall. It’s now October, the start of flu season. Cases are spiking to record levels. Pandemic restrictions are still in place in many states. I don’t need a crystal ball to predict that the current run on cloud will continue until the end of the pandemic. 

The good news is that the pandemic will end, whether by an effective vaccine, improved treatments, better disease management, or a combination of all three. If progress continues as forecast, the COVID-19 pandemic could be contained worldwide by next summer. Even without a vaccine or the scientific advances available to today’s research teams, the pandemic of 1918 ended after 26 months. We may never return to the old normal, but, one way or another, this virus will eventually run its course.

Now, what does postpandemic cloud computing look like? 

First, for most enterprises, a reduction in momentum appears unlikely. However, priorities will shift. Today’s focus is on the low-hanging fruit to achieve migration at speed. Eventually we’ll run out of easily migrated workloads.

Once the number of applications migrated slows down, the complexity and value of those workloads will increase. That means we’ll need at least the same amount of resources to refactor more complex applications to run correctly on cloud platforms. The focus will move from lift and shift at speed to application modifications and modernizations that take advantage of the native features of the target public clouds. 

Second, because we’ll be fixing mistakes made during the initial pandemic run, we’ll increase the required resources. This is due to excess complexity caused by little or no coordination between cloud migration and cloud development teams, all under pressure to migrate or build faster to fix the risk exposures revealed during the early days of lockdown. 

This will surprise most enterprises. Budgets will need to move away from migration to solve these issues. Overall I still expect budget increases because cloud is now considered strategic to the business. 

Finally, there’s a silver lining to today’s new and renewed interest in cloud computing. Changes in business that were once unthinkable happened overnight, and they happened worldwide. Today it’s easier to accept that cultures and processes must change to allow cloud computing to work properly. The acceptance of cloud computing within most enterprises is a major shift. 

Enterprises that embrace the changes are likely to adopt new technologies that were once career risks to even mention in meetings, such as cloud, artificial intelligence, edge computing, etc. This acceptance and desire for change and disruption will allow the business to become more agile, and thus respond better to customer and market dynamics. 

We will also see global, national, and local disasters in the future that will continue to change the way we use technology to run our businesses and our world. The sooner we understand that change is inevitable—and it’s coming—the better off we’ll be. 

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