A surplus of articles now forecast a cloud downturn or predict a cloud computing recession. See this one for an example. The number of reporters who reach out to me about this topic is also increasing, although I don’t comment on economic trends because I’m not an economist and I don’t want to be mistaken for one. I’ve also been in this game long enough to understand that you can’t have uptimes without some downtimes.
It’s funny that people are already calling this a “cloud spending crisis.” Many will look at any cloud computing spending reduction with panic. In most cases, we’re just going back to pre-pandemic spending, which was still aggressive. Although I rarely listen to the Chicken Littles of the world, I do see some lemons coming along that can be made into lemonade.
My experiences in past technology recessions taught me to use these downturns as an opportunity to go faster and accomplish more by undertaking a few projects that many others won’t pursue as their budgets begin to fall. Here are some things to consider if your cloud spending is lower than last year’s:
Catch up on hiring and training. The complaint I hear over and over is, “We don’t have the in-house cloud skills to be successful.” If cloud projects slow down, it’s an ideal time to push in-house training programs. You might also find more qualified candidates in the market now that companies are less aggressive about hiring.
Count on the fact that things will pick up again. It’s better to have a good inventory of talent when that happens rather than scurry around at the last minute, as many enterprises do.
Modernize applications and data sets in the cloud. The applications and data you lifted and shifted provided the benefit of speed, but they came with the drawback of higher operating costs. If you get a break as things slow down, that’s the time to optimize those lift-and-shift applications and data. Identify the workloads and modernize them through minor refactoring, or even perform some major surgery, such as containerization.
You need to do this at some point anyway. The more you put it off, the more you will pay in ongoing operating costs. Operational reliability and resource overutilization lead to higher-than-normal cloud bills.
Create a vision for the use of cloud computing technology. Most of us know what we’re working on this year and perhaps some or all of next year. Can you state just as clearly your long-term vision for cloud computing in your enterprise? If you’re having trouble verbalizing that vision, in most cases that’s because it was never created.
Use your downturn-induced free time to define the strategic use of cloud computing and other technologies on a five- to ten-year horizon. Get everyone on the same page with a vision of where the business is going and how technology can enable that vision. All levels of the enterprise must agree and commit to this path. A unified vision is much more important than most people understand.
If we do end up in a downturn, I suspect it will be shorter and less impactful than most people now imagine. The wisest of us will look at it as an opportunity to improve.
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