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Cloud / December 3, 2020

Back to the Future: Enterprise Edition

This article was previously published by Forbes.

Grab your DeLorean and buckle up. Everyone is looking to the future for positive news around a COVID-19 vaccine and a safe return to some sort of normalcy, and business leaders are no exception. Even Bill Gates, who predicted this pandemic five years ago, is turning his attention to what’s next — and the simplest way to describe it, he says, is a “semi-normal” version of the past.

2020 seemed destined to continue the growth pattern we had seen over the last few years with some of the largest tech IPOs and financing rounds to date, along with a booming security industry with consolidation and growth occurring in many segments. But with the pandemic, it is clear that we will see a major change from this trajectory, and as a result it is going to feel very different for the next 12 to 18 months. Potentially, for years to come as the global economy adjusts to the “new normal.”

Remote work, telehealth and distance learning have become our new normal. Being in a large group setting at work or school, enjoying shared lunchtime or visiting the doctor for a minor checkup are all now legacy thoughts. New models and ways of working have emerged as a result of these challenging times. Forbes notes that a hybrid workforce is likely going to be the future — combining the benefits of the culture and face-to-face collaboration of office life with the flexibility of working at home.

Fast-forward to 2021, and we have to discuss what this “new normal” means for infrastructure and our dependence on the cloud. The pandemic accelerated the timeline of many organizations’ digital transformation journey from years down to months and as a result, cemented the need for the cloud. Given this acceleration, there are three characteristics that highlight how the enterprise cloud — both private and public — is here to stay:

  • Providing a compelling and hard ROI for customers of infrastructure vendors is top priority: The phrase “pets and cattle” is an often-repeated description for the way people think about infrastructure and the move to the cloud. The “pets” are parts of the infrastructure that are indispensable or unique and attract close attention. On the other hand, “cattle” are the components of infrastructure that are replaceable, numbered not named and, during failure events, requiring no human intervention to be replaced. Amid the pandemic, business leaders are forced to look at the “animals” they have across their environment, and how the emphasis has changed in the ways they are managing their “farm” The cost of that management — albeit remotely — has come down to levels we have never seen before as the shift from “pets” to high volume “cattle” has become commonplace. As a result, our customers are looking for strong and tangible ROI measures and a clear understanding of the total cost of ownership of their technology investments. It is our job to answer those questions.
  • Agile businesses and business operations are key to long-term success: Our customers are evaluating their infrastructure investments through a different set of lenses as their business model adjusts to evolving conditions. Business leaders are being forced to be more flexible to meet rapidly changing employee and customer demands. As a result, IT must evolve and become more agile to meet the needs of the business and ensure long-term relationships with business units, partners and vendors remain intact. The faster an IT organization can provide required solutions, the faster they can deliver an ROI-focused model to their customers.
  • Don’t forget security, transparency and analytics: The technology and security industries need a spotlight on these three capabilities, both now and into the future. Organizations must respond and evolve in these times and need to develop and maintain a security-first mindset. They need to be transparent about challenges, and how they respond to the new opportunities while trusting in analytics to help measure, adjust and thrive in these unique times. As leaders, we must set an example for our employees and partners while demanding it in our product innovation teams so that we can all emerge stronger.

It’s no secret that most businesses were forced to fit five years’ worth of digital transformation efforts into a few short weeks in order to support the immediate transition to a remote workforce in March and thereafter. With the initial shift behind us, business leaders that have learned from this experience are better equipped for the challenges of the next wave that are sure to come. It is time to take what we’ve learned over the last seven months and fully commit to the new tomorrow. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures — what will you do to become stronger in times of change and disruption?

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