Public cloud technologies have become hugely popular

22nd June, 2021
Public cloud technologies have become hugely popular

Brian Moroney will be speaking at the CIO & IT Leaders Summit on June 24th about the accelerated adoption of public cloud computing during the pandemic and the key considerations for IT and digital leaders over the next 12-24 months. As we look at how businesses, and in particular the technology function, continue to grapple with these seismic changes, we asked Brian to shed some light on the insights gained from his work with Irish businesses so far.

1.Tell us about your current role and team at EY? Including types of clients you work with etc.

I am an Associate Partner in EY Ireland’s Technology Consulting practice leading EY’s newly established EY Microsoft Services Group. Our team works across all sectors to deliver the most comprehensive proposition in the market from advisory, strategy, architecture and design, engineering and managed services, right across the full Microsoft technology offering including Azure Engineering, Business Applications and Modern Workplace. I also lead EY’s Strategy and Architecture practice, which is a cross sector focused team and highly experienced in delivering IT and digital strategies, working on complex enterprise architecture challenges and supporting and leading some the largest transformation programmes on the island of Ireland and across the UK. Most of my time is spent working directly with clients, typically at C-suite and executive committee levels, to support them in their journeys to stabilise, optimise and transform their businesses supported by the latest technology.

2.What are you seeing businesses grapple with as they emerge from the pandemic and prepare for this new working environment?

It is obviously the case that many organisations were ill prepared for the impact of the pandemic. That said, I have been so impressed with the ingenuity and resilience shown by our clients as they have navigated their businesses to this point. Looking forward it is important to contextualise that decision making for most has been based on an underlying belief that pandemic restrictions would be temporary. However, with some light now showing at the end of the tunnel, a number of challenges have started to emerge as clients have started to look at more medium-term horizons.

-Return to office and the maturation of the ‘hybrid working’ model. Top of many agendas now is the return to the office and how CIOs will support organisations transition to the hybrid model that seems favourable to many. The key context point here is that many organisations now have practical experience of two models of operation, i.e. in-office working and remote working. However, fewer organisations have knowledge of the third model, i.e. hybrid working. In addition, hybrid working will, for some time, need to factor into the model a variety of public health considerations leading to the requirements for social distancing, temperature testing, desk booking solutions, test and trace models and so forth. The CIO will need to answer the challenge as to whether the technologies provided for in-office and remote working can operate together seamlessly.

-Sustaining the obvious gains made during the pandemic into the medium term. Many clients are reporting increased productivity where employees have been operating in a fully remote capacity. With many now moving to hybrid models, there are real concerns that organisations will see dips in productivity, output, and moral as employees see the return to some levels of in-office working and all that this entails.

-Maintaining talent, particularly our younger employees, as opportunities to travel and experience life become more readily available. Our country, more than most, has seen phases of large scale emigration of young people, therefore it remains to be seen if post-pandemic we will see another wave of emigration, not forced by an economic reality but one grounded in a sense of missed opportunities.

-The war for talent. With transformation agendas being reset, recovery and growth ambitions being embraced and confidence emerging across many sectors, there is no doubt that the war for talent, in particular tech talent, is well and truly underway. There is no doubt that demand continues to outstrip supply across many of the disciplines and technology domains. It seems to entice perspective employees, organisations need to have highly differentiated propositions in order to attract top talent. Many of our traditional, big brand organisations are struggling to compete in this regard.

-From a technology perspective, many organisations have taken big steps in terms of adopting public cloud technologies during the pandemic, often times out of absolute necessity. Cloud technologies, such as Office365 including MS Teams, Zoom and many more have been central to the operation of businesses throughout the pandemic. However, whilst communication and collaboration has been hugely significant, it is still the business operation more broadly that can benefit most from leveraging cloud technologies. It has become clear now that many organisations have or are already moving to a hybrid-cloud model of operation. That is to say the integration of an on-premise technology platform with highly secure, and scalable solutions in the cloud. Inherent in this model is the topic of ‘identity’ and the extent to which it has now become the logical perimeter of the organisation rather than the ‘firewall’. We are now seeing organisations revisit the many decisions made during the pandemic response in this regard to ensure that hybrid environments are set up to deliver maximum protection, benefits and opportunity going forward.

-There has been a surge and revitalisation of business continuity planning. With both the pandemic and now recent cyber events, there is a huge focus now on business continuity. Did anyone ever think that so much of our business operations could be impacted in the way that they have been. Many organisations who have struggled to incorporate cloud computing solutions into their architecture are now using BCM as a use case to explore its value and risk mitigating potential with lots of success. However, it is worth noting that this is not a ‘cloud for cloud sake’ approach, but rather that approaches incorporating cloud solutions have been successful in comparison to those involving a wholly on-premises based response.

-From a technology perspective, public cloud technologies have become hugely popular but there is still some lag with the adoption of automation and newer ways of working. In particular we can see significant variations in the capability of organisations to really drive new value in terms of increasing the quality and pace of change, integrating and incorporating customer feedback loops into the value chain, and improving the stability of service. In other words, some organisations made good technology decisions but didn’t invest enough time in establishing corresponding operating models to maximise the potential of the investments made.

3.How have EY responded to this movement towards leveraging public cloud?

EY is one of the largest consumers of public cloud services such as Microsoft Azure in business today. We truly believe that technology can play a massive role in building a better working world, and it is in this context that we have invested significantly in building our Microsoft Services Group capability and our alliance relationship with Microsoft to deliver great technology solutions and business outcomes for our clients. In Ireland, as the pandemic hit we were able to seamlessly move our entire operation to a remote scenario within days, without impacting the delivery of our services. As we support clients in their journey to consuming public cloud services, we have also developed a comprehensive set of methods, frameworks and solutions that will ensure that organisations can drive tangible value, including better customer experiences and outcomes, increased revenues, reduced costs and enhanced security from public cloud. Our approach is to support a ‘whole business’ transformation and not just the technology. This is the focus we have taken in our firm and we are bringing this to our clients every day.

4.What the top 5 items that the CIO should focus on in this regard?

•Hybrid cloud technology is the reality now for many organisations. In assessing your current cloud capability, consider completing a Well Architected Review (WAR) to give confidence that your cloud deployments are as robust, secure and extendable as they possibly can be as we move out of the ‘incident’ phase of this pandemic.

•Cyber security must be factored into technology decision making, e.g Azure has six defined security layers whilst on-prem installations typically have two or three. Make sure that cloud ‘and’ on-prem cyber comparisons are fully informed on both sides.

•Knowing your assets and your current installed base to include applications, infrastructure and data layers and how they link to business services, are key factors in any technology planning including hybrid and public cloud decision making.

•In evaluating how technology can solve business challenges, consider how the solutions you can provide are able to support the organisation’s ambitions regarding issues such as sustainability.

•Consider some of the emerging technology innovations enabled by public cloud computing and how they might be relevant for your organisation;

oDecentralised computing and confidential computing

oEdge computing with enhanced analytics and AI

oNew business models

oLow code / no code

The 2021 CIO Summit takes place virtually on June 24. For more details visit www.ciosummit.ie

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