Capitalising on the opportunity of multi-cloud environments

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The past 18 months have had a profound impact on the world. The unprecedented scale of the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally shifted how we interact with one another.

Without a doubt it has also been disruptive. But it is a disruption that has affected everyone, and that “level playing field,” has offered opportunities, too. “Great leaders when they see these macro-economic challenges, they look at it as an opportunity,” Frederico Hakamine, Okta Senior Technical Marketing Manager, said.

With this wave of disruption, the opportunity has come from IT. Organisations were effectively forced to modernise their IT environments, as lockdowns and social distancing became mandatory. It was the only way for the business to be able to continue operating. McKinsey termed it “the quickening” with companies reporting two, five, or even ten years of digital transformation being consolidated into a time period of just months.

Companies did that to keep the lights on. Now, however, they are looking forward, to the strategic opportunities that their new environments can provide. Those that are successful will gain a significant competitive advantage and will do so rapidly.

The three great opportunities from new transformation

In a presentation at a recent IDG Next Reality event, Hakamine outlined three areas where organisations have the best opportunity to leverage their newly transformed environments towards competitive advantage:

  • Dynamic World – With collaboration tools being more robust, and companies being more comfortable with remote working, enterprises have a new opportunity to expand the net when looking for new talent. They can, effectively now look globally, and this creates opportunities for companies to become a 24-hour operation and, additionally, reach new customers.
  • IT Consolidation – Most enterprises are now running complex, multi-cloud environments. Mission-critical data are being stored in private clouds, and public clouds are being used for less mission-critical purposes. With this comes IT challenges, and many CIOs will benefit from leading their organisations through a consolidation exercise. Hakamine pointed to the Experian experience, where six disparate identity management technologies, that had accumulated within the environment, could be replaced by just the one Okta solution, and that that resulted in $8.6 million in savings over a five-year period.
  • Customer-Centric Digital ExperiencesKPMG research shows that 80 per cent of new revenue opportunities are coming from digital. Enterprises have these new, digital-transformed environments, and with that comes the opportunity to use the IT environment to build products and solutions and improve the customer experience.

Identifying the security challenge

To take advantage of these opportunities, organisations need to open their environments up, and in most cases approach IT from a multi-cloud perspective. As Hakamine noted in his presentation, 54 per cent of executives now believe that the increase in remote work and collaboration is here to stay. Multi-cloud environments facilitate these new, flexible, and resilient ways of working, while allowing the CIO to meet compliance requirements, promote scalability within the enterprise, and avoid the risks of vendor lock-in.

However, it also requires a re-think with regards to security. Where once there was incentive for many enterprises to adopt a perimeter approach to security, and keep things locked down within internal networks, this is no longer an option. Instead, CIOs are being challenged to unlock the opportunities of open networks, without exposing the organisation to new levels of security risk.

The solution, Hakamine said, lies in an identity-driven approach to security. A zero-trust, identity-based security environment is a technology model that was first devised back in 2010, but it has been gathering momentum across enterprises due to the specific approach to security that it enables.

As Hakamine wrote in a recent blog article:

“Multi-cloud management is crucial as organisations grow and add new applications and services to their IT environments. While the cloud revolution continues to grow and data volumes increase, businesses remain reliant on traditional methods like passwords that put their diverse environments, remote workers, and multiple applications at risk. 

Businesses require a modern identity platform that makes the user the new perimeter, ensures secure access to applications and services, and enables rapid adoption. Okta’s approach to identity and access management simplifies the process and removes the risk of migrating to the cloud. This Zero Trust security approach ensures:

  • Context-based security
  • Centralised identity control and reduced password mismanagement through Single-Sign On
  • Protection of data through Multi-Factor Authentication
  • Automated user provisioning and deprovisioning
  • Reduced IT overhead through automated workflows

Enterprises understand the value of IT in coming out of the disruption of the past 18 months. Gartner’s forecast is that worldwide IT spending will reach $4 trillion this year, a jump of 8.4 per cent on the previous year’s spending, and much of this is going to the ongoing evolution of cloud services and these increasingly-complex multi-cloud environments.

For enterprises to leverage strategic opportunity from this trend, ensuring the security strategy has been adjusted in kind is of critical importance. Otherwise the enterprise will be forever hamstrung by a legacy approach to security that no longer supports the rest of the IT environment.

For more information, be sure to watch Frederico Hakamine’s presentation at the IDG Virtual Event Summit here.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.