Chief Content Officer,
Techstrong Group

Too many organizations are shifting workloads to the cloud without aligning those efforts to strategic business goals, according to David Linthicum, chief cloud strategy officer for Deloitte.

Speaking at the InnoTech Dallas 2022 event today, Linthicum says IT innovation for all intents and purposes going forward is going to be delivered by vendors via the cloud rather than on-premises IT environments. “We’re on a forced march to the cloud,” he says.

However, while it’s inevitable most organizations will become dependent on cloud services for IT, a lack of strategic planning is making the shift to the cloud more costly than required. In fact, a return on investment in the cloud may not be achieved by most enterprise IT organizations for seven to ten years, notes Linthicum.

Neither is every workload less expensive to run in the cloud than it is in an on-premises IT environment, so IT leaders need to carefully evaluate actual costs before moving a workload, he adds.

While there are a lot of benefits that cloud computing enables, including automating the management of hardware and software, Linthicum notes cloud computing overall is a more expensive approach to consuming IT. Expecting cloud savings to pay for the cost of migrating applications to the cloud is a recipe for failure, says Linthicum.

There is also no such thing as not becoming locked into a cloud platform because of all the proprietary hooks that exist, so IT leaders should not expect to be able to migrate workloads to lower costs by pitting one cloud provider against another, he notes.

In addition, the overall cost of cloud computing is also likely to rise as new classes of applications are developed. The first era of the cloud largely revolved around moving monolithic applications that used to run in an on-premises IT environment to the cloud. A new generation of cloud-native applications based on microservices constructed using containers while being more resilient add yet another level of complexity that increases cloud costs, Linthicum says.

More than 10 years after the initial rise of cloud computing, the debate over shifting workloads to the cloud is as heated as ever. Many IT organizations are hesitant to, for example, shift legacy online transaction processing applications to the cloud for fear performance might decline when accessed over a wide area network. Cloud advocates contend that once best practices are mastered, those concerns will prove unwarranted.

Regardless of approach, just about every business is going to be employing cloud services to some degree to drive digital business transformation initiatives. The challenge is finding a way to take advantage of the cloud in a way that doesn’t break the IT budget. A big part of that equation, naturally, is the degree to which the digital process is driving additional profits and revenues that justify the cost of the cloud resources required to drive it. The one thing that is certain is the level of scrutiny applied to those cloud costs will increase substantially should the current economic downturn prove to be prolonged.