The Cloud is coming of Age; Are you ready?

By: Manish Jain, Assistant VP, Head of Engineering and New Product Development for Mahindra Comviva

Today’s competitive environment requires companies to firefight simultaneously on several fronts. Broadly, these include fast turnaround time, reducing ownership cost, identifying key investment areas, et all. In this context, therefore, it wouldn’t be an understatement to state that now is a good time for operators to look beyond on-premise deployments.

Despite being the centre of various discussions, cloud-based infrastructure has, so far, been considered a mere substitute for on-premise deployments. It is time, thus, that the technology got its due-it’s time that it attained the mantle of a significant cog in an organization’s overall machinery.
A quick and easy way to achieve this is by, naturally, highlighting the benefits accrued by the technology. Very briefly, these are centered on cost, time to market, performance, reliability and maintenance and global scalability.

Let’s take a quick look at each. Now, as far as costs concerned, the biggest benefit is that no payment is required to be made upfront. Moreover, factors such as data centre space, annual maintenance of hardware and software, et al. require negligible investment. Next up, time to market is reduced significantly with cloud deployments. How? Well, the hardware and software required for the same are available on the fly; one merely needs to install them as per the required configuration.

Moreover, deploying the technology would yield reduced latency. Ideally, this implies customers are able to access the service from any part of the globe. The cloud is specifically designed for caching content to the edge locations. This is to fulfill incoming service requests from the nearest available location, based on the geographic presence.

Reliability and maintenance are achieved as there are mechanisms available for easier data backups, in-built monitoring tools availability and support for disaster recovery to achieve business continuity.

In a nutshell, if we consider a rough estimate, project timelines can be reduced by around 50-60%, while cost can be reduced by 40-50%. This, of course, is in addition to other advantages the platform offers. Having said that, however, I feel it is prudent to point out that merely examining and being acquiescent of the benefits accrued isn’t adequate to measure whether an organization’s solutions are cloud-ready or not.

The bigger question here is: how does one determine if an organization’s solutions are cloud-ready or not?

Naturally, a number of factors come into play. First and foremost, the on-premise solution has to undergo certain engineering-centric changes. Simply put, an organization has to ensure that the cloud platform can support multiple tenants, deploys stateless protocols in client-server communication and ensures session management. This, in turn, is to permit load distribution through horizontally scaling the product as and when required.

Now, let’s examine all the aforementioned factors. Support for multi-tenancy implies that the solution ought to ensure that even a single deployment can cater to multiple geographies, languages, charging mechanisms, price points, time zones, currencies, et all. The list is endless but for the sake of convenience, I have whittled it down to the most vital factors.

Next up, the solution ought to be designed so as to support horizontal scalability. This is merely to ensure that the additional instances created at run time are able to accommodate the increased load. Now, ensuring run time configurability is a must, especially if one wishes to add to the number of regions or instances in one’s running deployment on the fly. Of course, the solution may require certain customization, based on the specific implementation of cloud environment that one is choosing for one’s solution deployment.

In addition, some other aspects that should also be looked at by the organization includes up skilling of the existing work force and understanding the in-built tools and technologies, the risks and dependencies involved with the cloud migration, state policies and changes to the existing set of processes to support cloud deployments.

In sum, the intent of this write-up wasn’t to merely advocate the cloud but to also list the benefits that deploying the same accrue. The essentials are all (to my knowledge) listed here-now it’s time to ask the big question-is YOUR organization cloud-ready?

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