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

Sue Daley

Sue Daley

Director, Technology and Innovation

Sue leads techUK's Technology and Innovation work.

This includes work programmes on cloud, data protection, data analytics, AI, digital ethics, Digital Identity and Internet of Things as well as emerging and transformative technologies and innovation policy. She has been recognised as one of the most influential people in UK tech by Computer Weekly's UKtech50 Longlist and in 2021 was inducted into the Computer Weekly Most Influential Women in UK Tech Hall of Fame. A key influencer in driving forward the data agenda in the UK Sue is co-chair of the UK government's National Data Strategy Forum. As well as being recognised in the UK's Big Data 100 and the Global Top 100 Data Visionaries for 2020 Sue has also been shortlisted for the Milton Keynes Women Leaders Awards and was a judge for the Loebner Prize in AI. In addition to being a regular industry speaker on issues including AI ethics, data protection and cyber security, Sue was recently a judge for the UK Tech 50 and is a regular judge of the annual UK Cloud Awards.

Prior to joining techUK in January 2015 Sue was responsible for Symantec's Government Relations in the UK and Ireland. She has spoken at events including the UK-China Internet Forum in Beijing, UN IGF and European RSA on issues ranging from data usage and privacy, cloud computing and online child safety. Before joining Symantec, Sue was senior policy advisor at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Sue has an BA degree on History and American Studies from Leeds University and a Masters Degree on International Relations and Diplomacy from the University of Birmingham. Sue is a keen sportswoman and in 2016 achieved a lifelong ambition to swim the English Channel.

Email:
[email protected]
Phone:
020 7331 2055
Twitter:
@ChannelSwimSue

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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 across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Laura worked internationally in London, Singapore and across the United States 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:
[email protected]
LinkedIn:
www.linkedin.com/in/lauraalicefoster

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Chris Hazell

Programme Manager - Cloud, Tech and Innovation, techUK

Chris is the Programme Manager for Cloud, Tech and Innovation

Zoe Brockbank

Zoe Brockbank

Programme Coordinator, Policy, Tech and Innovation, techUK

Zoe is a Programme Assistant, supporting techUK's work across Policy, Technology and Innovation.

The team makes the tech case to government and policymakers in Westminster, Whitehall, Brussels and across the UK on the most pressing issues affecting this sector and supports the Technology and Innovation team in the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Zoe worked as a Business Development and Membership Coordinator at London First and prior to that Zoe worked in Partnerships at a number of Forex and CFD brokerage firms including Think Markets, ETX Capital and Central Markets.

Zoe has a degree (BA Hons) from the University of Westminster and in her spare time, Zoe enjoys travelling, painting, keeping fit and socialising with friends.

Email:
[email protected]
Phone:
020 7331 2174
Website:
www.techuk.org,www.techuk.org

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