10 May 2022

Event round-up: Cloud for Business in 2022 - a Raconteur and techUK webinar

On 27 April, techUK and Raconteur joined forces for an exclusive webinar exploring what business leaders are saying about cloud adoption over the coming year. This event followed Raconteur’s Cloud for Business report published in The Times on 13 March 2022.  

The panel included:  

  • Matthew Larder, Head of Cloud at Softcat 
  • Richard Walters, CTO at Censornet 
  • Ariel Assaraf, CEO at Coralogix 
  • Chloe Johnston, Senior Manager at Raconteur  
  • Laura Foster, Head of Programme - Tech & Innovation at techUK 

You can watch the full webinar here, or read our summary of the key insights below: 

Please note that the below is a summary of the event, and readers are encouraged to watch the webinar to understand the full details of the discussion. 

Laura Foster opened the meeting by setting the discussion in the context of the Raconteur report and highlighting several key themes, including the growth in cloud-based business models, sustainability, cyber security threats and bridging the digital skills gap.  

Chloe Johnston gave an overview of the Cloud for Business report and touched on the convergence of cloud and edge computing and the role of cloud in tackling the climate change challenge as key market trends for 2022.  

Growing cloud adoption  

In their opening remarks the panel focused on the massive increase in cloud adoption seen in recent months and the need for a shift in culture when migrating to the cloud.  

Ariel Assaraf argued that many businesses are still transitioning from an initial “lift and shift” migration to the more optimised cloud-native approach that is required to manage the costs of operating in the cloud.   

Matthew Larder agreed that cloud can involve significant costs and that many businesses are still being held back by a culture of over-provisioning leading to waste – both financial and carbon – that could be avoided with a just-in-time strategy using only what the business needs at any given time.   

Richard Walters suggested that properly assessing minimum infrastructure requirements and concluding pre-payment agreements with cloud providers can help businesses reduce costs.   

Shared responsibility for a sustainable cloud 

Matthew pointed out that the commitments made by hyperscale cloud providers to becoming carbon neutral put the rest of the industry in a good position when reporting on Scope 3 emissions. Matthew argued that cloud can be both cost-effective and more sustainable, and that some organisations are struggling with large, well-established legacy IT footprints and rising energy costs.  

Ariel agreed that the centralised and more efficient infrastructure of cloud providers is better for the environment that what the average organisation can achieve on-prem. However, once they have migrated to the public cloud, businesses have a strong incentive – in terms of both financial and carbon costs – to operate in the most efficient way possible.   

Ariel also pointed out that we need more comprehensive use of energy utilisation metrics and Richard agreed that proper monitoring of resource usage and smarter technology choices are key to a sustainable cloud.  

Keeping costs down 

Laura moved the discussion on to strategies that businesses can use to keep the cost of cloud services under control.  

Richard suggested that the complex billing structures of large cloud providers are often difficult for businesses to understand, and that working with an auditing partner with the necessary expertise can help businesses achieve significant cost savings.  

Ariel agreed that pre-purchasing enterprise agreements with large cloud providers can dramatically reduce the cost for known baseline requirements. He also argued that cloud is not on-prem servers that are located elsewhere and that properly utilising cloud architecture is key to keeping costs down.  

Mitigating cyber threats  

The discussion moved to cybersecurity threats, and Richard said that while mid-sized organisations are facing the same threats as larger enterprises, they often have less resources available to deal with those risks. Mid-sized organisations are also struggling to recruit skilled cybersecurity professionals.  

Matthew suggested that while a rich ecosystem of vendors and partners is key, guiding customers to relevant vendors can be challenging in a heavily saturated market of cybersecurity solutions. Properly assessing your risk is essential - but it’s equally important not to get washed away by the hype.  

Ariel agreed with the other panellists and reiterated concerns about alert fatigue produced by a rising tide of security incidents and cybersecurity products and the critical shortage of cybersecurity skills.  

Richard pointed out that the move to hybrid working in many organisations has also shifted the threat environment. A distributed workplace has a more complex security perimeter that requires a user-centric approach with real-time behavioural analytics.  

The cloud skills challenge  

Laura asked the panel for their views on the shortage of skills in the cloud ecosystem.  

Matthew argued there is an exponential shortage of people with the right skills and experience, creating a salary bubble for the whole market and making recruitment hugely challenging for the average organisation. This makes corporate culture increasingly important as workers are looking for organisations that embody their own values on issues like diversity and sustainability.  

Ariel agreed with Matthew and pointed out that this challenge will be exacerbated in the coming years as some tasks and skills are made obsolete by automation. Government and industry need to plan for this and think about how to transition the workforce and avoid increasing social inequality.  

Richard concluded that working closely with independent organisations and universities to proactively connect with new talent is important, but recruitment and retention is increasingly challenging and expensive.   

Closing remarks 

Laura closed the event by inviting the panel to give final remarks on the future of the cloud market.  

Richard said that artificial intelligence is really exciting and the shift towards real-time analytics and data processing will enable us to solve some of the challenges facing the market today.  

Ariel suggested that edge computing will be a significant trend as we shift to a more decentralised computing environment – with huge implications for our ability to scale, for cybersecurity, and for sustainability.  

Matthew agreed that the pace of change is exciting, particularly digital transformation and innovation in sectors like retail and transport, which will be supported and enabled by cloud services.  

You can read the full Cloud for Business 2022 report here

Laura Foster

Laura Foster

Head of Technology and Innovation, techUK

Laura is techUK’s Head of Programme for Technology and Innovation.

She supports the application and expansion of emerging technologies, including Quantum Computing, High-Performance Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies, across the UK. As part of this, she works alongside techUK members and UK Government to champion long-term and sustainable innovation policy that will ensure the UK is a pioneer in science and technology

Before joining techUK, Laura worked internationally as a conference researcher and producer covering enterprise adoption of emerging technologies. This included being part of the strategic team at London Tech Week.

Laura has a degree in History (BA Hons) from Durham University, focussing on regional social history. Outside of work she loves reading, travelling and supporting rugby team St. Helens, where she is from.

[email protected]

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Rory Daniels

Rory Daniels

Programme Manager, Emerging Technologies

Rory joined techUK in June 2023 after three years in the Civil Service on its Fast Stream leadership development programme.

During this time, Rory worked on the Government's response to Covid-19 (NHS Test & Trace), school funding strategy (Department for Education) and international climate and nature policy (Cabinet Office). He also tackled the social care crisis whilst on secondment to techUK's Health and Social Care programme in 2022.

Before this, Rory worked in the House of Commons and House of Lords alongside completing degrees in Political Economy and Global Politics.

Today, he is techUK's Programme Manager for Emerging Technologies, covering dozens of technologies including metaverse, drones, future materials, robotics, blockchain, space technologies, nanotechnology, gaming tech and Web3.0.

[email protected]

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Elis Thomas

Elis Thomas

Programme Manager, Tech and Innovation, techUK

Elis joined techUK in December 2023 as a Programme Manager for Tech and Innovation, focusing on AI, Semiconductors and Digital ID.

He previously worked at an advocacy group for tech startups, with a regional focus on Wales. This involved policy research on innovation, skills and access to finance.

Elis has a Degree in History, and a Masters in Politics and International Relations from the University of Winchester, with a focus on the digitalisation and gamification of armed conflicts.

[email protected]

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