Retail Reflections

Why The Pandemic Will Accelerate The Shift To The Cloud

Why The Pandemic Will Accelerate The Shift To The Cloud

I’ve worked in numerous data centres both in the UK and abroad and seen the devastating impact on the business of downtime. The causes of which have ranged from operator error, cleaners unplugging the servers to do the vacuuming (yes, that one’s real), air conditioning units leaking onto the hardware to VIP visitors accidentally hitting the emergency power down button.

I’ve felt the intense anxiety of literally watching the entire contents of a data centre I was responsible for, being loaded onto a truck to travel hundreds of miles up the motorway to their new home (even now I can’t quite believe we did that).

And in another scenario, I’ve put a member of my team on a plane from the Caribbean to the UK with a handful of backup tapes in his hand luggage, to bring up the disaster recovery site as yet another hurricane bore down on us, threatening a lot more damage than merely flooding the data centre.

All this came back to me whilst reading an article recently about the continued shift to the cloud and my abiding feeling was, why in retail hasn’t this happened already? Given the risks, the lack of investment and the sheer pressure of running business critical applications ‘on prem’, on the face of it, it seems like one of the easier decisions a CIO has to make.

It’s not for me to go into the severity or otherwise of the latest mutation of the Covid-19 virus, but what appears abundantly clear is that the measures now being introduced to combat the threat – perceived or real – are likely to cause yet more uncertainty and disruption to the retail industry.

Which is all rather a long-winded way of getting around to saying that the uncertainty associated with the pandemic is likely to accelerate the shift by retailers towards the cloud. And with it we are likely to see even more of a fundamental shift in the internal IT team towards big data, app development and digital innovation.

Now, before you tell me that this is stating the obvious, in a way I’d agree but the difference, and the point I’m making here, is that whereas in the past this has been talked about, it is now becoming a reality.

A combination of pressure for agility and innovation, the need for predictable budgets, the desire by vendors to move to annual revenue recognition models plus a maturing of the technology and the cloud options available, have all converged to make the prospect of migrating to the cloud the most attractive it has ever been.

So if you’re a CIO, the next time you get that call over the weekend to say that the data centre has been hit with a power outage and the UPS hasn’t kicked in, you’d do well to look up; the answer could be in the cloud.

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