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Oscar Williams

News editor

Cloud Expo 2018: Execs on the biggest challenges facing the industry

The benefits of cloud computing are clear: the technology offers firms agility, scalability and lower overheads. But migrating workloads off premises presents its own set of challenges. We caught up with execs at Cloud Expo this week to discuss the biggest barriers to cloud transformation programmes, and how to overcome them.

“A lack of technical knowledge is the biggest inhibitor to transformation”

Chris Griggs, VP EMEA, Skytap

A lot of the issues are around the application and the knowledge and the IP around the application. I know one customer who gave us a really good example. He said: “We were luck the guy was on the golf course and not in the grave.” The problem is these monolithic application built with data centres in mind. A lot of what has been done from an architecture standpoint hasn’t been well documented. So when people move on or companies change or get acquired, that knowledge isn’t there. When we pitch up, we start to ask some very specific questions – and it’s that skills gap that is usually the biggest inhibitor.

Andy Taylor, pre-sales cloud architect, Skytap

We inject agility into the process by taking away the dependency on the knowledge of that particular application. Basically, if you lift and shift it – rather than modify it in situ – we provide multiple environments running in parallel where they can deconstruct that application and use it in sandpit environment to start containerise it, develop modern technology and create a hybrid or a pure cloud application based on that legacy base.

“How do we take communities and enhance their skills?”

René Bostic, Technical VP of innovation and new technologies, IBM Cloud

You have to meet customers where they are [to fill in their knowledge gaps]. I remember back to when we were helping cobalt programmers move to java, so this is something I think all of us are very familiar with. How do we take current communities and continue to enhance their skills and capabilities?

We’re focusing now on more cloud native apps. Many of the cloud providers are saying we’re not going to do this rip and replace; we’re going to take all of your applications on to the cloud. Let’s be methodical about this so what are your new applications and how would you like to move that into a cloud environment and from there be able to take those teams and train them in some of the newer technologies.

“The biggest security threat is more of the same”

Laurence Pitt, global security strategy director, Juniper Networks

The biggest threat is more of the same. As much as we’re going to see targeted attacks, targeted attacks are becoming more complex to execute. You need to find new vectors to deliver a properly targeted attack. However, more of the same is a great way to discover that vector. So we’re going to see more phishing attacks, more spearphishing attacks, more ransomware but with ransomware starting to become a payload. The information they’re getting is what’s a weak point, what fails. For the next three to five years, we’re going to see huge amounts of the same. But where we do see targeted attacks, they are going to be incredibly sophisticated. I strongly think that’s where things are going to go.