Why organizations must move to a cloud-based infrastructure [Q&A]

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The past couple of years have led to lots of new demands on IT and many businesses have turned to the cloud in order to meet them.

Whilst the initial assumption may have been that these changes would be temporary, much of the shift in working patterns looks like becoming permanent. We spoke to Alkira's CEO Amir Khan to find out more about what this means for businesses as they gear up for remote work on a long-term basis.

BN: What are the current challenges facing the cloud industry?

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AK: There are a number of challenges in the cloud industry today, but the standouts are the prevalence of shadow IT, IT bloat and the inability to secure the cloud at all access points.

Shadow IT is a huge issue for organizations that have continued to support remote work, as well as organizations that span multiple locations. This has created silos, preventing teams from staying in alignment with each other.

IT bloat is especially common in enterprises that had to shift operations to a remote-first model in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Folks spun up infrastructure without much thought. Most assumed it would be temporary. Remote work is here to stay. So businesses now need to figure out the right architecture and security model for their users.

BN: How did the industry get to this point?

AK: The current challenges emerged from the influence of a variety of factors. The global pandemic prompted a rapid switch to remote-first work, which few organizations were prepared for. This resulted in quick, panicked cloud deployments to keep businesses operational, and in many cases, these stacks were not the right fit for the organization that rolled them out. Workers continue to work from home and from remote locations. And organizations realize their infrastructure isn’t working as well as intended. This means that many organizations have a bit of 'spring cleaning' to do to better optimize their infrastructure, ultimately better protecting their business and saving on overhead costs.

BN: What is so dangerous about IT bloat?

AK: Because deployments were rolled out so quickly, there are a wide range of challenges that were unintentionally created. These include duplicate IP addresses, unsanctioned internet access, unused networks and security resources, misconfigured security group settings and unaccounted for shadow IT resources. These can cause compliance violations, app reliability issues as well as compromise security and incur unnecessary overhead costs.

BN: What solutions are emerging to help combat these challenges? What can organizations do to avoid experiencing larger problems?

AK: It's critical to establish a single point of control which can help organizations modernize and unify the silos that have already been created. Additionally, finding ways to leverage, as opposed to replacing existing infrastructure can help organizations avoid creating even larger problems within the cloud deployment.

BN: How can businesses adapt to permanent remote work while still reducing IT bloat within their infrastructure?

AK: Remote work doesn't inherently create IT bloat. The bloat is created when teams must quickly deploy a new tool or instance to support a specific task and it persists when organizations lack visibility in their environments. With visibility, bloat can be eliminated. To achieve this visibility organizations need a single console to manage multi-cloud environments. This allows multiple teams to access the clouds without needing to go through different interfaces.

Additionally, enterprises can create automated templates. New resources spun up automatically have the right security and operational settings.

BN: What are the benefits of housing data storage and infrastructure in the cloud?

AK: With the right networking and security framework in place, data storage and the organization's infrastructure are much easier to access via the cloud, especially for organizations continuing to support remote workers. This also allows them to spin up additional capacity if and when it is needed.

A major benefit in the current environment is the ability to bypass the current supply chain issues that are impacting hardware-based vendors. Organizations relying on hardware are often waiting months to receive components, hampering modernization efforts and making the business less agile. Since there's no physical set up, additional deployments become easier to roll out, and can be completed in less time.

BN: Why do organizations need to prioritize a unified data storage structure?

AK: They have no choice. Customers are moving from data centers to centers of data that exist across public clouds, private clouds, in co-locations and data centers, and this data needs to be connected via a new type of network. If organizations don't make this unified infrastructure a priority, they risk falling behind and falling victim to the downsides of IT bloat.

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