Cloud Migration

Grappling with Growing Cloud Complexity

Leo Minervini
November 30, 2020

At OwnBackup, we recognize the need for greater business resilience—not just during uncertain times like these, but always. Recently, our CISO, Travis Howe, wrote about one driver of resilience in his post on today’s crisis in tech trust. In addition to the focus on trust, artificial intelligence, and digital acceleration, a parallel trend I’ve been watching closely is the increasing complexity of the cloud ecosystem. A recent study by LogicMonitor found that 87% of global IT decision-makers agree the COVID-19 pandemic will cause organizations to hasten their migration to the cloud, with 74% expecting nearly all workloads to be in the cloud within the next five years. 

But a typical company’s cloud environment includes more than just a smattering of best-of-breed cloud apps, like Office 365, G Suite, Zoom, or Slack. It also comprises integrations with mobile apps, social media, connected IoT devices, big data, and even blockchain. As businesses everywhere race to the cloud for greater efficiencies and cost savings, IT modernization is accompanied by a somewhat unintended side effect: exploding data volumes and velocity. 

Do You Fully Comprehend the ‘Machine’?

Moving to the cloud sounds great in theory, but as cloud platforms get more flexible and powerful, cloud data naturally gets harder to manage as well. When you continuously add new capabilities to an exponentially expanding ecosystem, you quickly reach the point where no one person in the organization understands the ‘machine.’ The complexity of the cloud outpaces your ability to fully comprehend it, which means that errors or corruptions can have cascading implications.

Ask yourself, does our team have a clear picture of every interdependency in our tech stack? If a new integration erases or changes our application data in some way, will we be able to roll back and recover before the error interferes with essential business processes? If our data becomes corrupted, will that result in inaccurate insights that might tamper with our reporting or predictive modeling? 

Getting a Handle on Cascading Effects

Whether your developers are building on top of the Salesforce platform, creating bespoke integrations between various applications to reduce silos, or custom-coding new apps that run on AWS, any change in any connected system will create trickle-down effects. All of this unavoidable complexity makes data backup and recovery even more crucial to minimizing downtime and building resilience.

Think about the various processes and transactions in your business that require SaaS data to flow freely. Now imagine losing access to that data without recourse. Even many technically sophisticated leaders with a direct stake in platforms like Salesforce falsely assume their data is safe and easily recoverable. Yet in today’s complex technology universe, every admin, integration, and line of code is a potential culprit for disruption. 

That said, companies that are proactive about data protection can eliminate downtime by better safeguarding their customer, employee, and product information. For instance, many teams set up automated daily backups that contain all SaaS metadata, data relationships, and attachments. And specialized solutions like OwnBackup deliver rapid, stress-free data recovery through flexible options, such as recovering data from any point in time.

Every good technology leader knows that cloud adoption is additive and new waves of innovation and change are always on the horizon. That’s why it’s important to be cognizant of all the complexity and find ways to keep your systems, processes, and people as agile as possible. A great resource on this topic is the book “Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World” by General Stanley McChrystal, in which he says:

“Today’s rapidly changing world, marked by increased speed and dense interdependencies, means that organizations everywhere are now facing dizzying challenges, from global terrorism to health epidemics to supply chain disruption to game-changing technologies. These issues can be solved only by creating sustained organizational adaptability through the establishment of a team of teams.”

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