Cloud computing vendor Nutanix has released research showing that Australian enterprises are performing better than global counterparts in enabling employees to work from home since the pandemic.
The findings stem from the third annual Enterprise Cloud Index, which measures progress with adopting private, hybrid and public clouds, and this year explored the impact of COVID-19 on current and future IT decisions and strategy.
The report showed Australia was better prepared to manage the almost-overnight transition to working from home, with 92% having at least some staff regularly working remotely before the pandemic, compared to the global average of 73%.
This preparedness enabled strong business continuity which has made Australians confident they can perform in remote environments; so much so, that just 1% of Australian organisations expect a full return to the office in 2021, and 2% the following year. In contrast, 13% of global respondents expect a full return by 2022.
“While Australia was ahead of the curve in enabling remote work, a lot still had to be done to scale and expand whatever pre-existing capabilities local organisations had to cater for the increased demand,” explains Nutanix ANZ managing director Lee Thompson.
The report also showed IT has been elevated within Australian businesses as a result of the pandemic, with 78% seeing it as more strategic to the business, slightly ahead of the global average.
Improving IT infrastructure, operational efficiencies, and business continuity planning have emerged as the three top priorities in Australian IT departments.
“CIOs are now in the driver's seat to lead transformational change throughout their organisations,” Thompson states.
“With all that has been achieved in responding to the disruption of 2020, technology has been elevated in the eyes of the board, the c-suite, and across the entire business. Looking ahead, CIOs must leverage this buy-in from senior decision-makers and continue to drive better business outcomes into 2021 and beyond.
One well-documented side-effect of COVID-19 has been a rapid acceleration in cloud investment.
This year's ECI report found that as a direct result of the pandemic, 54% of Australian organisations increased their investment in public cloud, 41% increased hybrid cloud investment, and 36% invested in additional private cloud capabilities.
As a result, 38% of Australian organisations will be using two or more public clouds – in addition to their private cloud or on-prem infrastructure – in 2021.
“After the dust settles on 2020, operating complex, disparate environments as a simple, unified, multi-cloud architecture will accelerate innovation, reduce the cost of doing business, and unlock vast productivity improvements – wherever workers might be located,” Thompson says.
Despite Australia's readiness for a new reality, the research identified some key challenges it needs to address. More than half (57%) of Australian respondents reported challenges in getting the right IT support to remote workers, and 47% struggled to ensure secure employee access to apps and data.
Hybrid cloud continued to be recognised as the ideal IT infrastructure model by over 77% of Australian respondents, although this was lower than the APJ and global averages (90% and 87% respectively).
In the immediate term, however, Australian organisations reported the highest usage of private cloud – tied with Italy and the United Arab Emirates – with 35% of local organisations running private clouds.
Australia also struggled with IT automation but was far ahead of global counterparts in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and data analytics, continuing the trends from last year's report.
Edge computing and internet of things (IoT) skills also surged ahead of other countries, bucking the trend from 2019. Further, Australian enterprises were ahead in managing hybrid and multi-cloud environments, container technology, and remote access technology.