2021: What Happens to the Cloud when the Dust Settles?

After a year where everything seemed to drastically change, one old adage will hold true: Rome wasn't built in a day; Neither was your cloud environment.

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Staying ahead of the curve got a lot harder in 2020. IT and development teams were thrown headlong into the Data Age and had to pivot from maintaining existing technologies to being strategic partners that provide innovative services.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the rising complexity of IT services found itself at odds with the seemingly simple business imperative: “I just want to get the job done.” In 2020, businesses needed to do all they could to navigate the uncharted waters of fully remote workplaces, digitally transforming their organizations to ensure productivity. Overnight, millions of employees and customers needed to access key services from their homes, leaning on cloud technologies to continually conduct their professional and personal lives. However, this led to unforeseen problems in the quality of service and security.

Many organizations managed to avoid significant outages and breaches but still experienced cloud failures proving that even the most established businesses have bad days. Without proper end-to-end visibility into the performance and availability of their services, or protection for the entire attack surface of their hybrid cloud environments, organizations faced issues and were forced to make cloud-first a priority. In 2021, there will be a chance to evaluate what exactly needs to be done once the dust settles to continue this acceleration.

After a year where everything seemed to drastically change, one old adage will hold true: Rome wasn’t built in a day; Neither was your cloud environment. Here’s what we can expect in 2021.

2021: Move From Only Testing to Proactive —  Move Beyond Troubleshooting to Observability

The COVID-19 shutdowns included a mad rush to digital transformation through hybrid cloud environments. Organizations across the globe were faced with maintaining availability and stability amid a sudden and tremendous surge in demand for cloud infrastructure and collaboration services worldwide. And there were plenty of problems, but IT and development teams leveraged observability solutions to monitor their hybrid cloud environments and cloud-native applications to become proactive and avoid service outages.

Moving fast breaks things. As we all rush into new territory with our own cloud migrations this coming year, more mishaps are inevitable.

Driving the ‘Fail Fast’ Mentality Beyond Silicon Valley

When these crashes and disruptions inevitably happen, IT leaders will need to recover quickly to stay ahead of the competition — but how?

Silicon Valley’s “fail fast” approach to innovation is great at optimizing advancements. Extensive testing and incremental development determine whether an idea has value. However, the tech world often forces change on consumers rather than responding to their genuine needs. Organizations that can find the right balance between marrying a willingness to experiment and measure with an empathic understanding of what end-users actually need will not only fail fast, but succeed faster too.

Take Tesla as a successful example. Traditionally, cars roll out updated features in their newest models once a year. But since the average car owner keeps the one in their driveway for six years, that’s a long wait between upgrades. However, Tesla updates its cars’ software to add new features on the fly. By rolling out changes and updates constantly, Tesla testing responds to immediate customer needs and that model has taken the car industry by storm.

Organizations that successfully introduce different models that are in line with customer expectations will enhance the customer experience regarding their current products and services.

Successful Organizations Will Blur (or Erase) the Line Between ITOps and DevOps Using Data

Embracing the cloud, the “fail fast” mantra…why didn’t we just cut this whole thing down to two words: Adopt DevOps?

Well, it’s not that simple. People tend to label fundamental DevOps practices as a transformation — a glorified journey a company undergoes to provide continuous delivery with high software quality. However, DevOps is not really a destination at all.

DevOps practices of continuous integration and deployment are key for driving success from conception to consumer. DevOps’ holistic view of software development brings velocity and customer focus to most organizations’ center stage. By bringing a little DevOps to every aspect of IT operations, CIOs enable a culture of experimentation, failure and iteration to achieve necessary velocity. The agile, DevOps approach to IT, as enabled by nimble, scalable cloud services, encourages incremental wins. This coupled with data-driven decision-making at every level, and in every team, will be pivotal for success in the coming year.

In 2021, companies should not be discouraged if they experience a cloud outage en route to their cloud migration. Those who learn to recover quickly and streamline ITOps and DevOps will be able to outrun the competition — not just in efficiency and scale, but because of the elevated importance of resilience.  If you’d like to dive deeper into what to expect next year, check out the complete list of ITOps survival strategies for 2021.


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Kia Behnia

Kia Behnia, Vice President, IT Operations at Splunk, has over 25 years of industry experience in IT operations, cloud platforms, enterprise mobility and digital transformation. Most recently, he served as a board member of PowWow Mobile. Prior to this, Mr. Behnia was Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at BMC Software for nearly a decade, where he led strategy for all products including enterprise mobility, datacenter automation and hybrid-cloud management. Previously, Mr. Behnia served as Chief Technology Officer at Marimba Inc., where he played an instrumental role in the design and delivery of Marimba products, as well as oversaw technology partnerships. Mr. Behnia holds a B.A. degree in Computer Science from University of California at Davis.