Demand can explode overnight in today’s global economy. And if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that some companies are vastly more prepared than others to scale in the face of unexpected changes in demand.
But it isn’t just a lack of physical resources that can limit a business' ability to deliver. Too often, it’s a company’s technology infrastructure and antiquated systems that can’t keep pace. Even as cloud migration has become mainstream over the past decade, there has been a lack of cohesiveness to strategy.
Sudden surges in demand or shifts in global business climate can break even the best-laid plans. But as Dwight Eisenhower reminded us, “plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” It’s smart to consider retooling or rethinking your cloud strategy but remember there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Rather, it’s about continuously planning as circumstances change. Multi-cloud and hybrid cloud approaches promise this for businesses, especially those that want the ability to hyperscale when demand suddenly spikes.
Building a cloud that can hyperscale
The hybrid and multi-cloud solutions on the market today are agile enough to meet even the most sudden shifts in demand. So why have companies been unable to scale up recently? They’re likely stuck in a pattern of familiar thinking about the cloud and married to their current approach. Make sure your business isn’t caught off guard by breaking old notions about the cloud and keeping three basic principles in mind as you reexamine your strategy.
1. Migration is not all or nothing. It can be a scramble to scale up operations in the face of unexpected demand. Therefore, charting a course for your entire organization’s cloud future is extremely unwise in these scenarios. We’re often led to believe that cloud migration is a one-time effort or a transition that needs to be made whole cloth. Not so. Instead, consider deploying proof of concepts in the areas of business that need the most help meeting demand. Selectively upgrading cloud operations like this ensures you won’t miss an opportunity, but it also allows you to avoid making costly changes to existing systems that are suitable as is. If the concept works, it could prove to be a pre-tested solution for other business units. If it fails, or a partner doesn’t pass muster, you can carry over the lessons learned and pivot.
2. Know your capabilities. What is your current capacity, bandwidth and latency in the cloud? What security measures are in place? Who handles cloud vendor relationships? If you can’t venture a guess at the answers to these critical questions, you’ll be completely caught off guard when your IT team uses these terms at high speed during a surge in demand. Leaders should always have a solid grasp of the capabilities and capacity of the current IT infrastructure and IT operations. Conduct regular meetings with IT stakeholders to get a holistic understanding of where cloud operations stand, and how they can respond under stress. Steps like this ensure that smarter, more informed decisions can be made in the moment if there is a sudden need to scale.
3. Don’t forget quality control and cleanup. Hyperscale events can force leaders to make rash or uninformed decisions about cloud operations in the moment. Oversights and mistakes are bound to happen in the rush to ship a product, and that can be tolerated -- so long as it is temporary. Left unresolved, businesses can face a variety of consequences, like data leaks to third parties, the unintended creation of data silos or simply an economically unfeasible cloud spend. When the dust has settled after scaling up, ask questions of your cloud partners and scrutinize the performance of your systems throughout the surge and investigate if any failures could have been prevented.
Hybrid and multi-cloud strategies are making hyperscale more accessible than ever. In the face of the unexpected demands 2020 has seen so far, business leaders need to stay in a constant state of planning with their cloud operations to make sure they are prepared to weather any storm. Without the willingness to do so, they risk rendering existing tech plans obsolete.
Aaron Kamphuis is the data analytics and IoT practice manager at OST, a business and IT consulting firm. He has worked in professional services and custom software almost his entire career. At OST, Kamphuis focuses on building and maintaining an IoT and data analytics practice, creating and executing go to market strategies, managing a team of consultants and supporting sales pursuits.