As the world battles COVID-19, enterprises globally have embraced working from home. In a matter of days, millions of professionals are working, collaborating and innovating remotely. This new normal is made possible by the massive investment that companies have made in digital transformations over the past decade.
Digital transformation is among the fastest-growing technology/service clusters. IDC predicts that by 2023, digital transformation will account for more than half of global ICT spending. This means that for the first time in history, enterprises will have invested more in digital transformation than in all other ICT initiatives combined.
Some verticals like financial services, manufacturing, retail, transportation, etc. have made serious progress and their digital transformations are maturing rapidly. Other verticals are making more measured progress. Whatever their state, all industries/verticals are integrating digital technology into their business processes and reinventing themselves to deliver exceptional value.
The cloud is the essential first step in this transformational journey. It is the on-demand delivery of services like application deployment, storage, processing power etc. over the internet in a “pay as you go” model. This allows companies to avoid the capex and complexity of owning and managing their IT infrastructure.
Advantages of cloud computing:
● Agility/flexibility – It offers you access to different applications and systems on demand. This allows you to build your infrastructure on-the-go, deploy resources quickly and share information easily.
● Scalability – The on-demand model makes it easy to scale business operations and IT systems up or down rapidly.
● Reduced barriers to collaboration – Enterprise systems often run in silos. Cloud breaks these barriers and powers seamless access to data and enhanced collaboration.
● Disaster recovery & business continuity – With systems, applications, and data deployed in off-premise servers, business functions can be run remotely, allowing business continuity.
Why the cloud deserves your attention
● More than ever before, the cloud is a strategic priority. To be competitive (and successful), you have to be on-cloud.
● If you haven’t articulated a cloud adoption strategy yet, it’s time to do so.
● When it comes to cloud strategy, there is no one size that fits all. But there are underlying themes and considerations that you can learn from the early adopters.
The cloud’s potential is boundless. However, it comes with a lot of complexity. Let’s unpack four fundamental themes that are critical to developing your cloud strategy and accelerating deployment.
Public vs. Private clouds:
A public cloud is a computing service delivered over the internet by third-party vendors.
The cloud provider manages the computing infrastructure, software, and virtual resources and offers the use of these to the general public or multiple users. Resources are allocated between users as needed. This allows users to access a wide variety of infrastructure, services and applications without any capital expenditure and to scale workloads as required.
Public cloud services can be accessed at different levels:
● Software as a Service (SaaS)
● Platform as a Service (PaaS)
● Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
● Business Process as a Service (BPaaS)
Public clouds are cost-effective, but cannot be customized to your exact requirements. You may end up paying for features and applications that you don’t need.
A private cloud is a cloud that is meant specifically for select users. All the hardware and virtual resources are dedicated to a single customer and may reside behind their firewall.
Private clouds offer greater flexibility, security, and control. However, they require a massive investment.
Your cloud choice will depend on these key considerations:
● Cost: Larger organizations with big budgets, a private cloud would be worth the investment. For limited budgets, public clouds are a good choice.
● Compliance requirements: If you handle sensitive data with SOX, HIPPA or other compliance accountability, you should use a private cloud to store and process such data and documents.
● Control: If you need complete control over hardware, virtual servers, security, etc., a private cloud is the way to go. If you don’t have the resources/expertise to manage these, then a public cloud is a good choice.
Multi- & Hybrid- cloud management:
Single-cloud deployments are passé. 2020 is about leveraging multi-cloud and hybrid-clouds.
The RightScale 2019 State of the Cloud report confirms that multi-cloud deployment is the overwhelming choice for enterprises.
● Enterprises harness 4.9 % of public and private clouds on an average.
● Four-fifths (84%) have a multi-cloud strategy.
● Over half (58%) prefer a combination of public and private clouds (hybrid).
● Investment in public cloud is growing 3x faster than private cloud spends.
Multi-cloud means utilizing multiple providers like AWS, Azure, Google etc. to provide multiple services or complete separate tasks. Quite often, different teams within the same company have differing requirements. Teams that collaborate and create in real-time use the cloud differently than marketing & sales teams that leverage CRMs and predictive analytics. Harnessing multi-clouds is an effective solution in such scenarios.
Hybrid-cloud means utilizing some combination of public clouds and private infrastructure (which could be a private cloud or traditional on-premise servers/datacenter) to deliver a service or complete a task. The public and private clouds are separate infrastructures that operate independently but communicate with each other to port data and processes. This allows you to store sensitive data in the private cloud while running applications (that use this data) in the public cloud.
A hybrid cloud is the best of both worlds. It allows you to choose the best-fit cloud for every workload, without artificially limiting you.
Containerization is key:
Where you have hybrid clouds, containerization becomes imperative. Different cloud providers use their own infrastructure, policies, processes and APIs. This makes running applications over different clouds difficult and inefficient. You might even be forced to rebuild the application and workloads for different operating environments, making your development process slow and cumbersome.
Enter containerization. A container is a package that bundles an application along with everything it needs to run like configuration files, libraries, utilities and other dependencies. Containers are installed on top of the host OS and isolated from other containers, making them faster and more light-weight than virtual machines.
Containerization makes computing platform-independent and lets you run software seamlessly in different operating environments. Docker containers are the most widely-used container wrappers/solutions, followed by Amazon and Google.
● Eliminate platform dependencies, run applications anywhere
● Optimize resource use
● Speedy development, with greater productivity
● Seamless scaling
● Operational simplicity
While containers are quite simple to configure and deploy, at the systems level you will run into complexity as you try to manage hundreds of containers (or more if you use microservices). This is where container orchestration/management tools like Kubernetes and Docker Swarm prove helpful.
Container orchestration tools automate and simplify container workflows. These tools facilitate system-level tasks like scheduling, load-balancing and distribution etc.
Cost Optimization: the #1 priority
As investment in the cloud/DX explodes, cloud optimization has become the number one priority for cloud adopters with 64% highlighting this (source: RightScale). At the same time, they haven’t done enough to optimize costs. Gartner estimates that 70% of cloud costs are wasted.
Here are some tips to quickly optimize your cloud spend:
● Identify and terminate idle resources
● Leverage heatmaps to identify high- and low-demand zones
● Right-size your computing infrastructure/services
● Distribute workloads between public and private clouds
● Avail discounting options (reserved instances, spot instances, etc.
The cloud underpins the most important technologies of our time. The Internet of Things, Big Data, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain etc. all rely on cloud computing to realize their potential. It’s time to take your enterprise on-cloud and tap into this opportunity.
- Anuj Vaid, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer at CMS IT Services