Sanjay Sivam, Director, Inside Sales and Services Sales, Poly Asia Pacific
Businesses have taken to the Cloud, either whole or part—no question about it. Agility and responsiveness have improved. Product development has accelerated. Innovation is quicker while availability and resiliency have improved. Data centers modernized and legacy technology retired. Mobile workforce enabled and shared services built. IT spend and project cashflow better managed, with CapEx moving to OpEx. All these, without a doubt, were and are still the top Cloud adoption drivers as depicted by many CIOs surveys such as the earlier KPMG 2016 CIO Survey, from which the above are referenced.
Today, with of the availability of various market offerings, driving Cloud adoption is becoming increasingly complex as there are a myriad of options and emerging technology trends to consider. From AI, Analytics, Machine Learning, Quantum Computing to Blockchain, businesses now need to reflect further on their Cloud strategy. Building flexible application workflows between disparate systems with user simplicity is key. Effectively managing all aspects of security (data/application/infrastructure) in the Cloud is necessary for every business. We review two key dimensions here as it applies to Cloud evolution— people and time—both finite resources linked directly to the bottom-line of any business. In tandem, we look at the various hosted Cloud models—Public vs. Private vs. Hybrid and Managed Services as a solution for businesses consider.
With the need for “always-on, available-anywhere” applications, Public Cloud providers like AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google, IBM, and many more boast a host of options to get businesses started on the Cloud built on a highly scalable, robust shared infrastructure. And once migrated to the Cloud, there are more options to keep scaling with emerging technology such as Analytics, AI and DevOps. A central issue facing most businesses advancing in Cloud is which technology options works best for the business and how to implement & operate them with scale? The typical IT team is not equipped to operate on the Cloud, especially if a culture leaning on digital transformation has not set in. There are many recent LinkedIn posts about IT departments getting trained and certified on Cloud. This has paved the way for an evolving job market that bodes well for the IT services sector. However, the promise of agility with the Cloud was not just an aspect of technology or business benefit, but one of human resource as well.
With migration to the Cloud, IT departments needed to have been freed up from legacy IT work to administer mission-critical needs of a business. Legacy IT infrastructure work has also shifted to the Cloud. Cloud has become mission-critical. Public Cloud providers and a growing range of Cloud tech startups have started providing tools to help better manage and scale Cloud deployments but do not necessarily negate the need for IT teams to step up and confront these challenges head-on with right expertise.
There are two options a business could also consider when advancing with Cloud: either invest in grooming and recruiting Cloud-savvy in-house IT talent (architects, administrators and the like) or outsource Cloud and application management to trusted Technology Providers, System Integrators or OEMs.
With heightened competition in a digitally transforming, mobile-first market, businesses are racing to be first to market with new products and services. The conundrum of flexibility vs. agility against the growing backdrop of security sufficiency’s safeguarding a business is high at stake. How best can a business leverage the Cloud today with time-bound market pressures to stay relevant to constituents they serve? This begets the question of re-examining the hosted Cloud model of choice for businesses to advance: Public, Private or Hybrid.
From an IaaS perspective, Public Cloud offerings allow building on capabilities, scaling computing and storage over time based on migration strategy. However, from a PaaS or SaaS perspective, Public Cloud conforms to a uniform level of service with mass onboarding of businesses thriving on common needs and experience. Still, security remains a tricky responsibility for a business to take control for itself, rather than just rely on safeguards provided by a Public Cloud provider.
In Private Cloud, better programmability and predictability towards applications and data use can be tailored specifically to a business rather than tied to a common public infrastructure over the Internet. The business owns its Cloud infrastructure in its existing data centers and can suit up what it needs, decide when and how it will be used, including defining its own security framework for securing the business.
Hybrid Cloud on the other hand involves a blend in allowing applications and data to live on both the Public Cloud and a Private Cloud. Hybrid Cloud allows for interconnectivity between public and enterprise-owned infrastructures for workflow interconnects that are needed in various applications concerning different ecosystems, which may have been implemented on separate Cloud stacks themselves. Hybrid Cloud allows for Cloud-to-Edge computing to run, benefitting applications like Unified Communications where processing could be brought closer to the source or destination to achieve a better quality and richer user experience. Cloud-to-Edge computing brings the Cloud closer to where you need it.
Irrespective of hosted Cloud model, the complete outsourcing of Cloud technology management for a variety of applications is available today with Managed Services. Technology OEMs themselves have stepped up in their path towards innovation to stay relevant to their businesses by offering end-to-end 24x7 managed Cloud service offerings complete with security and enterprise-grade IT frameworks, certifications and best practices. It is becoming easier and simpler for a business to advance with Cloud by defining what they need and let the experts deal with how the technology is implemented and managed. Contractual metrics such as Service Level Objectives or Agreements (SLOs/SLAs) with Managed Services go as far as linking to business outcomes. These offerings mirror those of Cloud consumption models with OpEx schemes and can save a business resources, time and money while resolving the growing complexity of Cloud deployments to keep businesses focused on what they do best.