Cloud Architecture


Building a cloud-enabled work infrastructure

Cloud Architecture

A blog post by Diana Kearns-Manolatos, senior manager, Center for Integrated Research at Deloitte.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy, no doubt, but it has provided opportunities for companies to modernize their business infrastructure (in some cases just to survive), and therefore, accelerate their cloud adoption. That accelerated adoption is underway. Cloud spending increased by 11% in Q2 2020 over the same period last year.1  Companies that move quickly to follow the cloud adoption trend will have the opportunity to rethink how they operate—and to reshape their business to use cloud as a competitive differentiator.

Cloud Architecture

That reshaping starts with companies moving forward in their cloud journeys from deciding on a horizontal multicloud strategy to building a vertical (full-stack) multicloud solution. Companies must also rethink their security posture—especially vis-à-vis what needs to change in a remote-centric, cloud-centric working environment that will test infrastructure security across a more distributed network. Finally, companies must also embrace new development operations and ways of working—to get applications, and new releases, into production faster and with flexibility given tremendous uncertainty. To do this, organizations will have to coordinate across business and technology leadership to implement effective business transformation with sound technology, security, and operations strategies.

Moving from strategies to solutions
Most medium-to-large organizations have at least a nascent cloud strategy, and some companies are already well on their way in implementing it. They’ve selected their cloud providers, determined which workloads to migrate, and started to understand interoperability issues. For those who haven’t started down the path, the road is paved.

It’s time to put those strategies into action. The next challenge for companies looking to thrive, not just survive, in a post–COVID-19 world will be to manage cloud complexity and build on their strategic foundation by configuring the appropriate tools, software, and technology to deliver and manage an IT infrastructure to power the future.

To deliver that infrastructure, companies will need to do three things:

  1. Build common data services with a single virtual database or by managing data in a distributed way.
  2. Develop multicloud solutions that focus on access, network management, operations, and endpoint complexity for a full-stack solution.
  3. Extend CloudOps to include AIOps, which goes beyond reactive monitoring to automated response.

Companies that take these steps could see significant benefits, such as the elimination of operational redundancies, improved insights into their data, and enhanced ability to govern that data. They could also achieve more flexible IT resource consumption models and more effectively manage costs.

Security in the new, mobile workspace
Because the pandemic has forced companies to abandon physical infrastructure and embrace remote work and distributed infrastructures, security concerns become obsolete in some areas and heightened in others. To address shifting security concerns, companies must change the way they approach security to implement a more federated model across distributed work infrastructures. They must:

  • Manage federated computing infrastructures down to the endpoint level across tiers and devices (cloud, edge, mobile, IoT).
  • Use embedded, zero-anonymity security features, multifactor authentication, and privileged access management.
  • Look to replace perimeter-level security with device-level security; embrace virtualization and remote IoT devices; and secure every component of their environment, including object repositories, network segmentation, and web services.
  • Shift from single-vendor IM solutions to integrated, federated IM solutions to fully leverage cloud providers’ technology.

Those companies that embrace federated security will be able to increase their situational awareness, better manage attack vectors, and enable more dynamic threat intelligence and remediation. They will also be able to manage their security across an ever-shifting threat surface area. With this comes improved system interoperability, collaboration, and information-sharing.

DevOps and new ways of working
Security isn’t the only concern in managing a newly distributed workforce and workplace. Companies that migrate to the cloud will need to find new ways of working—especially in terms of core infrastructure and application development to remove development bottlenecks and get new releases out faster.

For many companies, DevOps is one solution. DevOps encourages better communication and collaboration, and when combined with cloud, it is a force multiplier that enables companies to better meet performance demands and customer satisfaction goals. However, when implementing DevOps, companies must focus just as much on the cultural change required to live by DevOps principles as on the technology behind it.

To implement DevOps effectively, companies will need to:

  • Double down on agile to align business and technology operations and maintain flexibility.
  • Foster improved communication and collaboration across project teams, departments, and organizations.
  • Move toward hyper-automation by incorporating cloud-based AI and ML services.
  • Reimagine traditional roles and embrace an IT-as-a-service operating model with cloud architects who understand business as well as technology.
  • Continue to shift left to operations, governance, and customer support.

With effective DevOps, companies can align development activities better across full-stack product teams. This will help them react and respond quickly and focus on work that provides tangible, quick value. Development teams can also share knowledge in real time to enable better organizational knowledge management with automated, standardized, and repeatable processes that speed up development, free up workers to focus on more value-added activities, and enhance governance and the end-customer experience.

Looking forward
There will be a postpandemic world. It won’t be anything like the world that came before it, but that actually presents tremendous opportunities for companies that tackle its challenges successfully with technology-enabled business transformation to support the future of work. To meet those challenges, companies must double down on their technology modernization strategies and focus on building full-stack, cloud-enabled business solutions that are secure and enable collaboration and cohesion, no matter the location or device. They must embrace new ways of working that enable faster, better application development to be able to shift developer strategies as business needs change. Those companies that can navigate these layers of cloud complexity will modernize their businesses and most likely thrive. For those that don’t, if they are able to survive, infrastructure modernization will remain a future obstacle, with an even wider competitive gap to tackle.

If you’d like to read more about the future of the cloud-enabled work infrastructure, check out this new Deloitte Insights piece here.

1 Angus Loten, “Cloud spending hits record amid economic fallout from COVID-19,” Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2020.

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