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Aptum: 2021 predictions for the cloud technology landscape

Alberto Da Anunciacao, Chief Infrastructure Officer, Aptum on the current landscape for the cloud industry and his predictions for 2021

|Dec 21|magazine19 min read

Rounding up the year with his thoughts on the evolution of the cloud technology landscape, Alberto Da Anunciacao, Chief Infrastructure Officer, Aptum discusses his predictions for what's to come in 2021 with Business Chief North America.

Could you talk me through the current landscape for your industry as we count down the final weeks of 2020?

The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation priorities to mobilize workforces, facilitate collaboration, and ensure business continuity. We’re seeing IT departments across the globe continue their search for the right solutions to combat the challenges that accompany new priorities.

How have you seen your industry evolve this year?

This year saw many cloud transformations accelerate. Organizations quickly deemed cloud computing essential to business success and continuity for three main reasons: scalability, elasticity, and digitalization. As businesses began to stabilize after the initial pandemic shock, a few things became overtly apparent – a company’s velocity, its ability to do business and the deployment of new IT structures were slowed down if not utilizing the cloud. Those who could not adapt during this time faced many disruptions, including supply chain interferences or on-premise staffing and resource shortages.

We saw a vast difference in elasticity needs across industries based on the level of impact caused by the pandemic. Still, the flexibility the cloud afforded was a success factor for all. Our recent study found that nearly all (99 percent) IT professionals surveyed see cloud services as essential to their organization’s success. Further findings from the study showed that 76 percent of organizations are utilizing cloud services to facilitate remote working, in response to COVID-19, and that 38 percent of businesses have scaled infrastructure to meet new levels of demand.

Many of these operations, including working from home, were not foreign for organizations; it was the acceleration and scaling of their ability to work remotely that was the challenge. COVID-19 confirmed the importance of cloud for business continuity and agility, and organizations are now starting to feel pressure to accelerate cloud transformation and realize those business drivers.

What technology and/or approaches have you seen emerge in the industry due to COVID-19? How do these compare to before the outbreak?

Many organizations are reassessing where they are hosting certain workloads to optimize IT budgets and increase business agility and resilience. As a result, many are planning to embrace a hybrid approach to their cloud infrastructure for greater agility. Aptum’s recent study shows that more than half (59 percent) of organizations plan to decrease their on-premise infrastructure in the next 18-24 months. The same percentage of companies expect to put more infrastructure into the public cloud, while an even higher proportion (66 percent) plan to expand their private cloud workloads. 

Hybrid cloud architectures are growing in popularity as organizations make better-informed decisions based on the performance of critical workloads in the pandemic and discover the infrastructure mix that works best for them. Cloud is not a one size fits all – it requires an approach that considers core business cases and assesses business objectives.

At the start of the pandemic, many organizations struggled to realize the potential of cloud. Aptum’s survey finds that 72 percent of respondents list increasing efficiencies as one of the main drivers behind cloud adoption. Still, only 33 percent report complete success at increasing efficiency in the cloud. This gap in initial expectations and actual success has a root cause – a flawed strategy born from insufficient discovery and unrealistic expectations.

Adopting a strategic approach through assessment, planning and prioritization allows businesses to have a clear viewpoint of their goal. This approach will enable companies to visibly map a migration strategy, and later, a successful transformation.

What are your predictions for the industry in 2021 and beyond?

Resilience and agility will continue to be at the heart of technology investments in 2021. For example, because of the complexities that may arise from hybrid-cloud or multi-cloud adoption and ongoing economic restraints due to the pandemic, insights into the effectiveness of workloads in different cloud environments will become essential. Subsequently, the demand for Cloud Management Platforms is expected to surge in popularity. Investing in a comprehensive Cloud Management Platform gives businesses visibility and access to real-time information on the cost and performance of all cloud services across multiple ecosystems to enable greater agility.

Agility is crucial for companies to continue to deliver uninterrupted service to customers while visibility is key for security. If one of those resources is misconfigured or deployed with sensitive information and left unmanaged, security and compliance can be exceedingly difficult to achieve for IT staff. As cybercriminals move to take advantage of hybrid and multi-cloud users’ blind spots, knowing the location of all crucial data and having controls in place to protect that data is critical.

Additionally, resilience will be underpinned by full-proof disaster recovery solutions. While most organizations have a disaster recovery plan in place for data protection, data retention, and fast deployments, many have only recently undergone their first test. Several months after the trial-by-fire, businesses can now readjust and confront the gaps in their business continuity and disaster recovery (DR) plans. As a result, companies will consider end-to-end solutions and adopt disaster recovery as a service to future-proof access to data.

What are the current challenges in the industry?

Most industries have been affected by general market volatility as a result of COVID-19, and IT budgets are under strain. Many of our customers asked for our support in cutting their OpEx, while seeking ways to preserve critical data and budget. A lot of auxiliary services, where customers didn’t need capacity, were retired, or scaled back in favor of services that granted more flexibility.

Demand in the hospitality industry in Canada, for instance, has remained low. According to Deloitte, only 15 percent of Canadian consumers say they feel safe attending in-person events; 34 percent feel safe going to a restaurant, and 29 percent feel safe staying in a hotel. But as consumers begin to feel safer and restrictions change, the industry will eventually scale its services up again. Nevertheless, the unpredictable nature of the situation means that flexibility remains a top priority. As a hybrid multi-cloud managed services provider, we help facilitate flexibility, agility, and security.

Taking a pragmatic approach and looking at business outcomes rather than trying to form-fit into one type of platform or infrastructure is crucial to capitalizing on the growth opportunities 2021 offers. Through this scope and with guidance from partners, what workloads should be retired, where they should be hosted, and what tools and provisions they need to optimize budgets and performance will quickly become apparent.

Could you talk me through your career journey and tell me a bit about the company that you work for?

Aptum is a global hybrid multi-cloud Managed and Professional Services provider offering total solutions and tailored options to enable customers to harness the power of their data infrastructure to maximize tangible business outcomes and the value of technology investments.

As Chief Infrastructure Officer (CIO), I am responsible for building and overseeing the company’s global IT infrastructure and managed IT capabilities, while supporting customers in 77 countries, as well as helping to execute Aptum’s corporate strategy.

I’ve been working in the IT industry for more than 20 years now and have experience in data center and telecoms operations. Prior to joining Aptum, I served as Chief Operating Officer for global IT managed solutions provider CentriLogic.

Before that, I worked for more than 15 years with Bell Canada. In my most recent position with Bell, I served as Vice President for Solution Delivery, Business Markets and led national professional services and managed services engineering teams, responsible for network, data center, security, cloud, and Internet of Things solutions for enterprise customers across Canada.

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