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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - By Mohammed Amin
Over the last few years, there has been a significant shift in how governments in the region managed their IT requirements. Previously technology was a business facilitator, it made it easier for staff to run a business. But today in a post-pandemic world, technology is rapidly transforming the way governments operate by accelerating innovation, driving efficiencies and streamlining operations. This fast track towards digital transformation has seen increased interest, investment and demand for hybrid cloud.
Across the Middle East, regional governments have had a strong focus on harnessing technology to drive socio-economic growth and build digital economies of the future. But in the current business environment, a major objective is to find ways to leverage cloud as an operating model to enable easy managing, scaling and sharing of compute, storage, networking and data protection. This is largely because the COVID-19 pandemic shed a new light on the value of risk management, raising the question of what government organizations need to do now and, in the future, to improve digital capabilities and agility.
Aiming for a flexible hybrid cloud
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, too many organizations made decisions related to cloud workload transitions without a longer-term plan or vision of what was being sought. Solutions were made point-by-point around individual software and problems, but such investments often do not result in the best overall solution. While organizations may have moved fast — and often pushed forward into multiple clouds – they now find themselves in a cloud sprawl.
However, the need for consistent operations and infrastructure across clouds is paramount, so organizations are quickly finding that hybrid cloud models are the right strategy when it comes to longer-term costs, scalability and security. Above all, the strengths of a hybrid cloud are its flexibility and openness, allowing changes to be made when a new direction is needed. With a hybrid cloud, data applications, services and workloads can be managed and moved across private and public clouds using the same consistent infrastructure and operating environment.
The push toward multiple cloud environments also offers agencies the flexibility to rethink IT in terms of their workloads and specific mission needs. Cloud is not a destination, it’s an operating model that should be adjusted to address evolving needs. As remote work increases, integrating multiple clouds is critical and allows agencies to easily scale depending on workload and provide the transparency needed to enhance security.
Cloud Without Compromise
A 2019 Gartner study forecast cloud computing in the GCC to grow in the next two to five years, but also predicted that the technology is more than a decade away from the Plateau of Productivity, at which point the benefits of the technology will be completely understood by organizations. However, the pandemic may very well change that. While there is presently no consistent regulation governing cloud usage in the region, cloud has inevitably played a key role in national government efforts towards becoming digital economies of the future.
In the Middle East, the initial rapid shift to remote working as the pandemic hit, illustrated the immediate benefits of flexible hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
Most government agencies have a mix of public and private clouds. In an office environment it’s easy to cross-pollinate, but a remote workforce often struggles sharing data between the two, unless using an effective hybrid approach. Agencies run both private and non-sensitive workloads daily, making a hybrid-cloud approach a universal best practice. This hybrid approach keeps data secure and accessible, while providing consistency across public, private and edge environments.
Furthermore, with an exponential increase in the number of devices connecting to agency resources via the cloud, flexible environments kept missions running. Scalability became more important than ever to ensure essential government missions could continue and experiences during the pandemic are what has led government officials to expand working from home policies even now as governments reopen their offices.
Finally, operating in multiple cloud environments also accommodates changing security needs. So, as governments rapidly shifted to remote work, they had to ensure data security and having the ability to move certain workloads to public clouds, while keeping others on premise was critical.
Achieving a unified hybrid cloud experience starts from developing a centralized cloud strategy and roadmap. From there, an infrastructure and management solution that abstracts the underlying cloud environment and provides a common management interface must be implemented. Lastly, organizations will have to take note of budgetary concerns and find the right blend of CapEx and Opex to optimize cloud economics.
At the end of the day, government agencies want to ensure a unified hybrid cloud experience that will provide them consistent infrastructure and operations at every location the cloud resides. This includes on-premises data centers to public clouds and the emerging Edge — allowing them to have greater control of their multi-cloud journey. These organizations also want to leverage cloud infrastructure in a way that supports their business needs.
With the challenge of managing multiple clouds and operating environments, a consistent hybrid cloud approach often proves to be the best solution to drive long-term business success.
— The writer is senior vice president, Middle East, Russia, Africa and Turkey (MERAT), Dell Technologies.
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