Hybrid Cloud Adoption – Opportunities and Challenges in the Canadian Market
Written by: Anil Kanwar
In today’s business environment, companies that want to stay relevant and competitive need to understand how to take advantage of Digital Transformation to evolve with their customer and markets. Yet in Canada only 19% of mid-market companies have reached an advanced level of digital maturity as assessed by BDC on digital technologies and digital culture. The vast majority of these businesses struggle with removing their own barriers to evolution. Over my 23 years of global experience in Information Technology & Business transformation, with the last 6 years with a focus on Canadian enterprises and mid-market organizations, I have helped many organizations successfully complete this transformation. During this time, I have also seen first-hand the challenges facing most mid-sized companies in their evolution. Specifically, 3 general barriers to successful cloud adoption are common in the Canadian marketplace:
1. Cloud Adoption Framework
Perhaps the most important challenge I have seen is the lack of an inclusive cloud adoption framework. In the Canadian mid-market specifically, businesses have not made the adjustment from traditional technology purchasing practices to cloud and on-demand service adoption. The buying process is still owned by the IT department and is executed in a tactical, reactive way rather than with strategy and planning baked-in to the execution. In many instances critical business and functional groups are not incorporated into the process. This often leads to poor realization of the cloud’s value to the business and to a narrow perspective of the cloud, how to use it, and how to best leverage value out of such services. Instead of fostering a strategic change and transformation, IT planning becomes focused on point tools and solutions, instead of offering a transformative new way of doing business. As a personal observation, in many cases that I have supported, a lack of an inclusive cloud adoption framework has added tens of thousands of dollars in additional costs, delayed delivery times and even caused project cancellation due to a poorly defined cloud economics.
2. Access to Skilled Resources
The second barrier is often a lack of access to critical skilled resources. The Information and Communications technology Council (ICTC), a policy advisor to businesses and governments across Canada predicts a shortage of approximately 216,000 technical resources in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector by 2021. This expertise gap refers to Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud along with IoT and emerging digital technologies like Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, 5G, Blockchain and 3D printing. Even for organizations that have great talent resources, in most cases they are too busy keeping the lights on to focus on innovation or generating real business value. As a result, cloud adoption is often limited to “lift and shift”, rather than true IT evolution or Digital Transformation. Ultimately, these businesses end up ignoring enabling technologies and practices that could help them focus on transformative ways of delivering business applications, improving customer/user experience, and driving business value.
3. Cloud Security and Compliance
Lastly, there’s cloud security and compliance. For someone who has been doing cloud for as long as I have, this is the one I had thought was long addressed. Yet with many organizations there is still a prevalent belief that cloud is less secure, along with traditional concerns about data residency and sovereignty. It is important to note that in the various shared models- IaaS, PaaS, SaaS- security concerns vary based on service delineations between service provider and customer. Cloud providers have a vested interest in protecting their reputation. They have access to the best resources who are specifically focused on following security best practices. And they abide by stringent compliance frameworks and audits as part of their operations. Many of these capabilities are beyond typical mid-sized organization – simply put, a provider whose sole reason for being is to provide robust, secure, highly available infrastructure, is generally going to provide better outcomes than your business staff, who should be focused on your business’ core value operations instead of IT maintenance activities.
Real World Scenario
I was recently engaged with a global technology company undergoing its own cloud transformation. They had settled, without a clear cloud adoption framework , on a single hyperscaler cloud for their VMware workload. Through a structured cloud adoption framework, we were able to establish consensus across the organization, expand their ecosystem to multiple clouds via an application centric/ best execution venue approach and deliver on defined business outcome.
The professional services support expedited their application launch by enabling them on key cloud services like automation and security across multi-cloud deployments. This experience illustrates how Mid-market organizations in Canada face similar challenges in adopting cloud as their much larger counterparts but must find a way to do so with less expertise and fewer resources. Hence, finding the right managed services and professional services partner is critical to success in digital transformation.
To conclude, I believe the Canadian mid-market segment has not only the need to adopt digital technologies but also to appropriately manage these assets to effectively compete in the global market. The findings of digital maturity assessments done by BDC and MIT, proved that businesses with higher digital maturity outperformed less mature firms on multiple financial measurements.
Anil is a Solution Architect and is responsible for working with enterprise customers to understand their IT strategy, provide assessments of their current infrastructure state, design target state and provide a phased approach to reach and maintain it using TeraGo services. He brings 20+ years of enterprise IT experience spread across pre-sales, delivery and product management working with large system Integrators and product companies.
 BDC – Digital maturity assessment – https://www.bdc.ca/en/articles-tools/entrepreneur-toolkit/business-assessments/digital-maturity/pages/default.aspx
 AWS Cloud Adoption Framework – https://aws.amazon.com/professional-services/CAF/
 – Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) Report – The Next Talent Wave – Navigating the digital shift – Outlook 2021 – https://www.ictc-ctic.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/ICTC_Outlook-2021.pdf