Technology is there to drive innovation

Cloud is nothing new in enterprise IT, but due to its flexibility and the velocity of development it supports, it remains at the centre of new developments

Shawn Deegan, head of cloud, Presidio

Cloud computing has had a transformative effect on enterprise IT, not only by shifting spending away from capital expenditure but also in facilitating new and faster ways of deploying services and products.

Company Details


Year founded: 1979 as Arkphire, merging with Presidio in 2020, which was founded in 2003

Number of employees: Over 3,500 globally

Why it is in the news: New regulations and new technology are now driving Irish businesses to more deeply integrate cloud services into their operations

Nevertheless, Ireland does lag somewhat in cloud adoption, said Shawn Deegan, head of cloud at digital services provider Presidio. However, there has been a lot of movement recently, he said.

One factor driving this is a technology very closely associated with the cloud: generative artificial intelligence (AI).

“Gen AI and the whole hype around it is definitely creating a lot of conversations around data,” Deegan said.

“There’s a lot of experimentation and we also see a lot of conversations around changes in the VMWare ecosystem. If you’ve pushed-off cloud, perhaps now is the time to look at it,” he said.

Presidio, which counts among its customer base everything from government and enterprise to the top end of SMEs, sees its role as helping customers bridge the gap to the cloud from the traditional IT world.

Gen AI makes the tech very approachable on the consumer side

Interestingly, generative AI is driving a reassessment of data: what is collected and how it is stored. This is because sophisticated use of AI requires using advanced services in a governed and secure way and while advanced data projects were often put on the long finger due to their perceived complexity, a clear value proposition has now appeared.

“People did ask themselves: is the juice worth the squeeze? There hasn’t been an easy quick fix for that and people often stuck things together, using tools like Power BI to do reporting or analysis. But behind that nice GUI it’s still a bit of a mess. However, with Gen AI it’s highly dependent on the state of your data. As a result, it ends up being a data conversation and a lot of that is about whether I trust how organised and structured my data is,” Deegan said.

“Gen AI makes the technology very approachable on the consumer side. The take-up has been one of the fastest ever. Showing the power and how easy it is has forced organisations to pay attention.”

Compliant cloud

Growing regulation is also driving organisations to consider the cloud.

The EU’s Digital Operations Resilience Act, for instance, which, applied to the financial services sector, is leading to the retirement of some legacy systems and, in many cases, the cloud, is the natural destination for their replacements.

“We see movement in financial services, particularly driven by DORA, with which you have to be compliant by 2025. More generally, we’re seeing a lot of conversations around cost optimisations and fin ops,” he said.

Presidio is working with a client in the insurance sector that wants to reduce call wait times and provide more quick and accurate policy information to its customer service team.

“That’s a great idea, but now I have to access policy information, which has personal data in it, so I need to think about whether the cloud environment that I have is ready for the job,” he said.

Aiding with compliance is the concept of a ‘landing zone’, resulting from IT departments explaining that existing engagements with cloud are often not ready for the next tier.

“This becomes the foundation for your security infrastructure. You’re basically setting up a data centre in the cloud,” Deegan said.

Security and the cloud have an interesting history. When cloud computing first appeared, it was often dismissed as insufficiently secure. Over time, however, it has proved itself more secure than on-premise IT.

Brian Finnegan, digital solutions architect at Presidio, said that the change in perception was driven by the experiences people have had.

“I think security is still at the forefront for most people [and] I had a conversation with one customer recently who argued public cloud was more secure than private cloud because of the maturity of the tooling.

“The other thing is the governance: you really want to put the guardrails in place, and you don’t want to have someone spinning up something with a high bill.”

In both cases, working with a partner like Presidio, he said, meant that organisations could bring expertise to bear.

“With us having done it hundreds of times, we know not just the best practices, but we actually review those best practices and see if they are right for you,” he said.

Cost spirals are a known phenomenon, however. But this can be controlled for, Deegan said.

“Spiralling costs [occur] without governance. At Presidio, one of the things we can do is ensure that the landing zone is correct. We also have a managed finops system that we call Prism, which is a persistent engagement. We want to make sure that spending is optimised,” he said.

Many clouds

Of course, just as every business is different, so each cloud platform is subtly different from one another, as are the reasons for moving to the cloud in the first place.

Rationalising and modernising existing infrastructure is a major driver.

“There are drivers to the cloud. Data centre consolidation tends to be one in Ireland, as data centre leases expire. There’s also a high level of activity with mergers and acquisitions,” Deegan said.

“Presidio is very focused on the modernisation conversation. It’s not a big bang, it’s a continuous thing that has to be done, and some of the organisational changes can be more difficult than the technical changes,” he said.

“We want to bring our team members to the table who have the right skills, who have done it before and have the right methodology, have the client participate, and as they gain confidence take on more themselves,” he said.

There has also been, in the last six months, an increase in interest in deploying multiple cloud platforms, known as a multicloud. Done right, this can be a winning strategy, but it requires consideration and guidance.

“Until three/six months ago, we saw more hybrid-cloud conversations. Multicloud opens a whole can of worms in terms of operating model. Things like skills and governance become super important,” he said.

In the end, Deegan said, the goal is not to push an organisation this way or that, but to ensure the IT, including the cloud, is there to support the business. “Presidio’s perspective is cloud right: depending on what you’re doing, pick the right one,” he said.