There’s no escaping it: to get ahead today, you need to have a hybrid, multi-cloud environment. Companies have long since noted the benefits of public cloud – and indeed, more than one public cloud for greater efficiency and optimisation. Yet it is not an easy process.
An entire industry, from consulting to monitoring, has grown around this complexity. Alongside this, some smaller IT providers see an opportunity. Comarch argues that when moving to the cloud, many organisations still could fall foul of hidden traps. CloudTech spoke with Ryszard Kluza (left), ICT business unit director at Comarch, to discuss the advantages of local service providers, issues with migration, and how Covid-19 is ramping up demand for cloud services.
CloudTech: Tell us about your role and responsibilities at Comarch?
Ryszard Kluza: At Comarch I am the BU ICT director, responsible for businesses related to cloud services (IaaS, PaaS), Power Cloud (IBM Power Systems in cloud model), hosting services provided from 20 data centres worldwide, and IT outsourcing services.
CT: What are customers telling you about the problems they are seeing with regards to their cloud migrations – and how can Comarch help them in this regard?
RK: Cloud solutions are the inevitable future of IT, but clients are very often afraid of becoming even more dependent on big IT corporations how it used to be with a let’s say “traditional” IT vendors. They do not want to wake up in a few years in a world where there are only a few global players which are still dictating constantly rising prices.
Comarch could be seen as an alternative, providing, in addition to their own developed cloud services, a hybrid multi-cloud solution where there is no risk of vendor lock-in. As a smaller provider, we are able to be closer to the client and better understand their challenges and problems while still offering world-class solutions. We can tailor our offer to each client’s specific requirements, which is rather difficult for big players.
CT: What challenges remain for businesses when they are looking to cloud migration, both from a technical and a business perspective?
RK: Transition to the cloud involves a huge change in mentality, as well in the business as in technological aspects.
Companies should carefully assess transition pros and cons, and answer simple questions about whether or not it is worth moving to the cloud. On the one hand, they could lower investments costs (CAPEX) and move their teams to develop and support the core business, because engineers would no longer have to deal with operational work related to the platform. On the other hand, business can become increasingly dependent on an external provider. Important questions to be asked should focus on whether quoted prices at the very beginning will still be valid in the long term, they might rise quickly (and if so, it is key to assess how quickly). Businesses considering a move to the cloud should also ensure that their teams can exercise restraint when faced with seemingly “unlimited” resources from their cloud provider.
From a technological perspective, companies have to analyse whether or not their existing solutions are compatible with cloud technology, and whether they have appropriate knowledge and the required competences to manage IT in the cloud. What about security? The cloud is a shared environment, so how to secure access to the systems on a remote platform? What guarantees are there that, in the event of any failure, the organisation’s administrators still have an access to IT systems placed in the cloud to support the core business?
Going into the cloud involves a change of IT teams’ philosophy in terms of supporting business. On one hand, the cloud offers easy, unlimited access to resources, but on the other there is still uncertainty about whether such easy access will be very costly in the near future if the wrong solution is chosen?.
However business answer these questions and address these challenges, they must remember that a shift to the cloud is inevitable.
CT: Do you agree that organisations go into migration plans without the requisite knowledge of cloud providers, business plans, and technical demands? What advice would you give to companies who are worried about making the wrong decision, vendor lock-in, etc?
RK: Recently, the cloud and associated services were among the most common topics of discussion the IT world. There is incredible pressure on management boards, CIOs and IT managers, especially those who do not yet have IT in the cloud, because maybe this means that they are not managing their enterprise’s IT optimally. This often leads to a rush to move IT systems to the cloud without proper preparation or detailed analysis. The worst thing is when an organisation lacks adequate technological competences and is unable to grasp a deep understanding of cloud vendors’ offers. A proposal may look good, but the first invoice might itemise many unknown items and prove rather expensive. I advise companies to make a considerable effort to understand the various offers on the market, choose multi-cloud strategies without vendor lock-in, and continuously assess cloud providers – none of which should prove a big deal.
CT: What impact has the Covid-19 pandemic had – or will have – on demand for cloud services? What effect is the widespread implementation of remote working having on both cloud software, but also cloud security?
RK: The situation with Covid-19 seems to have had a significant influence on the decision of boards of enterprises about putting IT systems into the cloud. Obligations on employers to allow their staff to work remotely have shown how important remote, secure access to IT systems really is. Not every company has reliable, secure and efficient network infrastructure ready to handle increased network traffic and secure remote work. Cloud providers are specialised companies which have reliable and secure systems as well as competent teams of engineers who can react rapidly to support clients with any problems they may encounter.
This is why, I believe, the situation with Covid-19 will accelerate movement towards the cloud and demand for cloud services.
CT: What cloud trends should companies be looking for during the rest of 2020 and into 2021 in your opinion?
RK: There are many cloud providers on the market, ranging from global players to local operators acting regionally. Going into the cloud is inevitable, but companies will want to avoid vendor lock-in and will choose multi-cloud solutions, to reduce the risk of becoming dependent on a single provider. This is why there is a place on the market for many smaller cloud service providers. Similar to traditional IT, clients are now buying hardware, software and services from many vendors and providers, to avoid such dependency and in order to optimise costs.
Editor’s note: This article was brought to you by Comarch. Download the whitepaper ‘Things you don’t hear about the cloud: A look at cloud computing in 2020’ here.