Ten years ago, no one would have thought that a simple word like “Cloud” will have so many interpretations. In the world of technology, today there is hardly anything, which does not have cloud as a prefix or suffix. The most common understanding is that of Public Cloud as provided by Hyperscalers in the industry. There is no doubt that cloud deployments have the potential of unlocking innovation as they essentially democratize the organizational information resources and make them available to all user groups. However, we need to have a broader view of the definition of the cloud.
This broader view is necessitated as enterprises of all sizes have invested heavily in infrastructure and applications, as IT became a key driver to their performance over the past few decades. While companies are actively putting newer workloads on the cloud – they are unable to unlock innovation at scale without taking this core to the cloud.
Secondly, the cloud landscape is still evolving and as it evolves, there will be differentiators in different platforms specific to applications. A particular platform may be more suitable to artificial intelligence (AI) while another may provide stringent compliance to regulatory frameworks. Essentially, enterprises will end up consuming multiple clouds and frequently shifting workloads across these clouds to optimize the technical and commercial envelope. This brings us to the Hybrid Cloud. We may err in defining Hybrid Cloud simply as a mix of Private and Public Clouds. Hybrid is much more. It is a holistic view of Enterprise IT and executes a roadmap to modernize it – make it elastic and mobile. The elasticity gives applications the capability to flexibly scale (up or down) resources at the component level (microservices). It also should provide self-healing capabilities at the atomic level. Mobility ensures that an application is unhinged from associated infrastructure and can smoothly move between platforms with almost no change and no incremental cost. This opens up deployment options across cloud providers with no strings attached.
The key to this modernization is container orchestration. Containers provide intrinsic automation, self-healing, elasticity and mobility essential for unlocking the potential of cloud beyond Infrastructure-as-a-Service.
Essentially, there are five entry points in an enterprise to this cloud journey.
a) Core Modernization: Several strategies are available to modernize the core – which depends on the nature, size and complexity of the applications. There are now tools available for automatic analysis of code and suggestion of the most suitable strategy. Modernizing will also be an opportunity to integrate more open source components into the applications.
b) Intelligent Workflows: Many enterprises have made great progress in digital transformation but not necessarily on the cloud – either because of regulatory constraints or because of the timing of initiatives. These applications use modern technology and can benefit from intelligent workflows enabled by the cloud. In other words, we can call it brownfield Digital Transformation c) Cloud-Native: or Greenfield Digital Transformation. New digital initiatives will benefit from Cloud Native development on the cloud. This can be a good starting point in disrupted industries where there is not enough time for core modernization to address the market challenges.
d) Data Platform: While data is the fuel for innovation AI unlocks the value of data and cloud democratizes it. For companies sitting on a large store of business data will benefit most by establishing a modern data platform that can draw, curate and present it in standardized form consumable by all user groups and applications.
e) Compliance: This is a good starting point for heavily regulated industries where meeting the statutory requirement and all associated paperwork can be streamlined.
While migration to the cloud has evolved as a natural progression for companies on their digital transformation journey, the current market has been irrevocably affected by COVID-19, accelerating cloud adoption. Business decisions today must consider how leveraging the cloud can influence their business strategy. – Today, the success or failure of cloud deployments are not technology stories they are business transformation stories.
Further, being conversant in the language of the cloud to articulate the “why” and deliver on it is important for business leaders. Enterprises who are leading in the cloud must be discerning in which cloud model they adopt and recognize that such decisions need to be taken at a company-wide level based on the requirements.
Moreover, business leaders’ understanding of how a cloud strategy should be orchestrated to achieve business goals – from cost optimization and delivering a great customer experience to grow or shrink operations or areas of business at warp speed as circumstances shift – is a requisite. Today’s business leaders need to understand how the cloud can enable their companies to be both agile and resilient while unlocking increased value from workflows and data.
Dipping the toes or diving deep: the difference is in the rewards
While 90 per cent of companies have adopted the cloud, only 20 per cent of the core workloads across these organizations have moved to the cloud. What hampers IT executives is that not all clouds are equal to the range of cloud options and what they enable or inhibit is downright confusing. Hybrid, open, and multi-cloud environment enables businesses the ability to store, access, and move data from a public or shared cloud environment, a private one, and across multiple cloud providers in a secure manner. The openness enables companies to select the best possible innovations and new technologies from the open-source community that provide the best advantage for the business.
Openness demands trusted security
To truly take advantage of an open architecture brought by the cloud, enterprises need to trust the data they have access to and maintain the trust of their employees and customers that they will protect it. A recent survey of more than 13,500 global C-level executives found market leadership was attained when a company established a high level of trust in the data from its customers, its business processes, and across its partner ecosystem. For cloud providers, it should be more than just enabling security and compliance – regardless of how complex the sector is. They need to embed enterprise-grade security into their cloud offerings to enable complete data protection no matter where the data resides. Trusted security enables IT executives to be ready for the next era of the ’Cognitive Enterprise’.
Organisational role in enabling Cognitive Enterprise
The speed and pace with which a business becomes a truly agile, a Cognitive Enterprise, lies in the hands of its IT department. As the orchestrators, they have the power to bring together the different parts of the organization around the hybrid cloud strategy. By having a clear view of where the value of IT will be and the roadmap to get there, by focusing on developing business-building capability and not just new business, and by locking-in an agile operating model, businesses will join those smart leaders and enjoy 2.5 times the value from a hybrid, multi-cloud platform technology.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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