The pandemic has accelerated enterprises’ journey towards digitisation. Although this has done a world of good for businesses, they have also faced a fair share of challenges while transitioning to cloud. Trideeb Roy, Director – Sales, Data Center, Cisco India and SAARC spoke to Dataquest about how the COVID-19 outbreak gave rise to digital adoption, the challenges that enterprises faced and much more.
DQ: How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected industries that are dependent on on-prem hardware infrastructure?
Trideeb Roy: The past 19 months have had a profound impact on every aspect of our lives. The pandemic has triggered changes on multiple fronts – from how we live, work, learn, consume, and even do business. While there is little doubt that we will conquer the pandemic and life will return to normal, many of its triggered changes are here to stay. In fact, they will shape what is already being referred to as the ‘new normal.’
It has led to a huge spike in demand for cloud-based applications, collaboration, security, and productivity tools to ensure business continuity, as businesses are now taking the opportunity to reinvent their models for a more connected, automated, data-intensive, and distributed future. Interestingly, it’s the non-traditional sectors leading this transition – from the public sector, small businesses to healthcare. 75% of healthcare leaders consider shifting to remote care a top priority now. And digitization is picking up pace in manufacturing, agriculture, logistics, etc. too. On the other hand, according to Gartner, many public services have gone largely or fully online, and the government’s IT spending will rise 8.6% to $8.3B in 2022. As companies look to growth and recovery in the next normal, they are rapidly turning to a multi-cloud to enable new business models and hybrid work cultures. Here, they are looking at a hybrid cloud strategy to bring the best of both worlds – the innovation, speed, and scale of the public cloud and the security, compliance, and performance of the private cloud.
While traditional infrastructure and cloud services are feasible options for selective workloads and services, they become flawed and expensive when supporting a company’s entire application portfolio. On the other hand, hybrid infrastructure is a combination of public and private cloud platforms and provides the best of both. One of the primary benefits of a hybrid cloud is agility that allows effective operation of systems across organizations of all sizes. Most importantly, the modern hybrid cloud infrastructure can future-proof a data center, keep up with the pace of software and service innovation, and push the business forward.
DQ: What are the challenges being faced by organizations that are transitioning to the cloud at present?
Trideeb Roy: These days, data can be stored anywhere, in any environment. It’s spread across on-premises and offsite locations, public and private clouds, pure and hybrid installations. Networks have gotten more complex, and management is more siloed. At the same time, IT organizations are expected to maintain everything flawlessly, delivering high availability across the globally distributed infrastructure with disparate toolsets.
We know that over the next few years, environments will become even more widespread. IDC forecasts that, by 2023, 55% of enterprises will replace outdated operational models with cloud-centric models that allow for better alignment between IT operations and public cloud operations. Ensuring smooth application migration is a top challenge for today’s technologists. Even after finding the right cloud provider, the migration process carries a certain degree of risk, and critical scenarios to be aware of include – Downtime – the migration process might require taking in-house servers temporarily offline. But outages could be disastrous to application performance if not supported by proper backup or resource allocation. Secondly, data loss – on the move to the cloud, the company’s data is at its most vulnerable. Some of it might be unavailable or at risk of breach. Extreme care must be taken to minimize breach risk by applying cloud security controls such as privileged access management and app encryption. Thirdly, resource management, cloud adoption requires introducing new IT management roles or transforming the very backbone of business operations. IT teams who were used to managing physical servers might need education on the new infrastructure. Fourthly, interoperability –it is not easy to get your existing applications to communicate properly with newer cloud environments. To help ensure they do, you might have to adapt your processes to those of your cloud provider.
In today’s digital-first world, migration to a multi-cloud architecture is imperative, as the number of benefits of transitioning to cloud models surpasses the challenges. These migration challenges justify careful planning, testing, and resourcing. Work with an APM provider to account for these challenges before developing your cloud migration plan, and you can migrate with confidence.
DQ: How is Cisco rising up to the challenge as more and more industries transition to the cloud?
Trideeb Roy: One thing we know the pandemic has changed forever is that what can be delivered digitally must and will be delivered digitally. Most of our discussions with customers are around building a business model that allows them to serve their customers where they are while ensuring the ability to develop and automate new capabilities in an agile manner, the flexibility to shift and scale IT capacity to where the demand is, and safety, productivity, security, and experience in this distributed environment. In preparation for a digital future, we are accelerating the transition of the majority of our portfolio to be delivered as a service, focusing on cloud security, cloud collaboration, increased automation in the enterprise, the future of work, application insights, and analytics.
Over the past six years, we have made multibillion-dollar investments to build technologies for every aspect of business, focusing on helping customers develop complete cloud strategies with confidence across five key areas: Continuity, Insights, Security, Connectivity, and Operations. To ensure that people have the best experience, wherever they are, and however they are connecting, observability of the applications is key. These full-stack observability capabilities must encompass the entire network path,applications, and infrastructure
The Cisco provides full-stack observability with AppDynamics, Thousand Eyes, and Intersight Workload optimiserfor applications almost anywhere for any network and on any infrastructure,with visibility into the Internet, the cloud, and the networks to helpthe businessrun seamlessly.
DQ: Future of work is the new Tech Jargon. What according to you will become the norm even after the COVID-19 lockdown is lifted?
Trideeb Roy: The global pandemic has been an extraordinary catalyst for change, propelling organizations to navigate change and digital transformation at both scale and speed. It reframed how we operate from global healthcare, business, and societal perspective—and how we will respond moving forward as we continue learning and adapting in a changing world. As we move through a new phase, where countries and economies are gradually re-opening, now is a critical time for organizations to turn their attention from business continuity to business resilience.
Strengthening an organization’s resilience involves more than just implementing solutions to solve existing or immediate challenges. It is about building the long-term ability to withstand and recover quickly from future shocks and adapt with agility to new challenges when they occur. It also means enhancing digital capabilities and building holistic IT architectures to secure your organization, empower your teams, and automate processes.
Regardless of an organization’s size or sector, cloud-based technologies, security, and automation are all crucial pillars that companies should focus on to build resilience in the post-pandemic world. Most importantly, the future of work – hybrid, intelligent and secure. Hybrid work is undoubtedly going to be harder because to make these new workplaces safe and intelligent, several nuances need to be addressed. Security has to be the cornerstone to enable a seamless experience. It must be deployed everywhere and in everything we do, from the network to data to devices to users. With the right tools and technology architecture in place, organizations can build a strong foundation to accelerate innovation, gain a competitive edge, and drive stronger sustained growth into the future.
DQ: What edge does Cisco offer in terms of helping customers with business continuity planning under the current circumstances?
Trideeb Roy: Today, applications are at the very core of the digital experience for most enterprises. Companies in every industry use software and applications to engage with their customers. And it is imperative for enterprises to ensure that their applications run smoother, faster, and more reliably in order to provide a superior user experience. This complex IT ecosystem, combined with the pressure to keep applications running reliably, creates an extremely challenging environment for CIOs and IT operations teams. They must keep the lights on and the apps humming while constantly adapting, innovating, and modernizing.
To address this, businesses need to invest in observability. They need end-to-end visibility across their entire IT infrastructure with a suite of intelligent services that allow IT teams to orchestrate seamless digital experiences at scale while being device, network, and cloud service provider agnostic. In addition, they need capabilities to process and analyze data to understand usage patterns and behaviors, identify potential issues, and trigger actions accordingly.
As a global enterprise, Cisco is at the forefront of multi-cloud services adoption as a consumer, SaaS provider, and, most importantly, enabler of the multi-cloud journey for our customers and partners. We have developed a wide range of capabilities, services, and partnerships to deliver cloud-agnostic, cloud-native software solutions. These solutions enable and optimize an organization’s multi-cloud, hybrid, and edge deployments, with end-to-end secure connectivity, assurance, and visibility.
Our cloud offerings include Cisco Intersight, which provides a framework to create and automate complex workflows so IT Operations can easily orchestrate infrastructure and workloads and accelerate the delivery of services. We also have Cisco UCS X-Series Modular System along with Cisco Hyperflex powered by Intersight, which is an adaptable, future-ready system engineered to simplify IT and innovate at the speed of software.