Building a Better, more Sustainable Cloud
Having a subscription to a cloud service alone cannot result in digital transformation as cloud is just another string in the organizational bow
Cloud is the foundation and bedrock of tomorrow’s legacy systems – and in this case, ‘legacy’ isn’t a bad thing. We’re talking about building platforms that will support businesses for the next 20 or 30 years.
But companies have come to realize that just having a subscription to Azure, AWS or GCP isn’t enough. What they’re looking for – and what CIOs and CTOs need to be able to provide – is what we at Kin + Carta call ‘Cloud+’: access to cloud, plus the cloud-based enablement, data science, platforms and innovation that drive digital transformation.
Cloud is another string to the organizational bow – and done right, it can underpin new revenue opportunities and new ways of doing business. Businesses backed by cloud can enable technology and digital solutions even if, at first glance, that seems like it might be an alien concept. They can go in exciting new directions.
Take Walmart, for example. Most still think of it as a big-box store where you can buy anything from a bag of onions to a rowboat. But there are cloud systems that drive its retail operation, like inventory management, and that’s technology the business has now been able to package and sell. Cloud helped it expand what its business could offer.
Investment bank Goldman Sachs is another example. It realized it had a wealth of trading data that could be turned into yet another revenue stream – and cloud made that happen.
Is your cloud sustainable?
But before you get too excited about the opportunities presented by cloud, perhaps you should take a long, hard look at what you currently have – and what the future of your business, and the planet, requires.
Early adopters of cloud are, curiously enough, now in a similar boat to those who were late to the party. When those first players first dipped their toes in the water, probably with Amazon, they were renting virtualized servers as storage buckets of data. It was all Virtual Machine (VM) based workloads.
That would have suited them well at the time, but comparing the older data centers where their cloud services still sit to the more modern iterations can make for tough reading. They’re occupying space in the oldest, most environmentally-unfriendly sections of the AWS or Google Cloud zone.
CIOs might not worry about that. After all, they’re still using cloud to support their business. However, they’re also missing out on a colossal – and increasingly critical – opportunity.
That’s because every organization, from retailer to insurance provider, has increasingly strict ESG goals and carbon reduction commitments. The technology and IT departments aren’t free from having to think about that, and historically have struggled to find opportunities to help out with CEO-driven sustainability targets.
Cloud, however, is that opportunity in a nutshell. The truth of the matter is that migrating to modern, more energy-efficient and sustainable data centers can save thousands of tons of CO2 every year.
It can actually do more for the environment than that beloved standby of the corporate world: planting trees. And in most cases moving to a modern, low-emission cloud is an easy button to push, so both early adopters and late arrivals need to seriously consider it.
Is your cloud fit for purpose?
Of course, sustainability is only part of the picture. Cloud-locking is real and capacity is getting increasingly stretched. Not to mention that not every cloud is right for every workload, which is why more and more organizations are looking into multi-cloud solutions.
Where cloud often offers the greatest benefit is where businesses want to experiment and innovate. The resources it provides are ephemeral and can adapt in real time to a strategy that might change from month to month.
In many cases, the ‘+’ is the ability to spin up and spin down at speed. The Covid pandemic showed us that systems can be bottlenecks when the world around us changes drastically, but cloud gives organizations the chance to deal with peaks and troughs in digital demand without having to invest massively in data centers that might then sit idle as things quieted down.
CIOs get the value of cloud. They don’t need to be sold on it. But what they often need to sell their C-suite colleagues on is how it drives digital transformation. That’s where factors such as revenue innovation and flexibility speak loudest – and it really doesn’t hurt that sustainability is a key element in the argument as well.
(About the Author: Mark Ardito is a seasoned IT executive working towards transforming large enterprises into cloud native companies. He works as VP, Cloud Modernization at Kin+Carta and the views expressed here are his own)