Let’s get right to it. Innovation and Speed.
Innovation. Today, people use innovation and transformation interchangeably. We should not be. Transformation is changing processes or technology to find efficiencies, build standardizations and eliminate costs. Innovation is more ambitious in its endeavours. Innovation is to reimagine your business models, build resilience, and instill that “Anything is Possible” attitude in your organization. The outcome of innovation is new revenue streams, new customers, and accelerated growth.
Speed. We have witnessed the need for speed, firsthand, with the pandemic. Literally overnight, in March of 2020, organizations needed to adapt to new ways of doing business in an unknown and evolving remote work environment. That was the issue internally. Externally, organizations needed to adapt their business models to meet their customers in the new digital marketplace. New competitors seemingly popped up everyday offering new features, faster service, lower prices, and better user experiences. Even the competitors you’ve battled with for years found a new gear. Speed is the rate at which you move to turn the creative ideas of your operations teams and product teams into reality.
The term cloud-first has been around for a long time. A cloud-first approach means to consider the cloud before all other technologies when a new project crops up, a replacement or a refresh is identified. The benefits of a cloud-first architecture allow your company to move away from maintaining and managing its on-site technology stack. The cloud’s rapid and massive growth gives you access to the latest and most significant technology available. Why “do it yourself” when you can simply RAMP up a cloud service that is already available.
According to IDC’s Whole Worldwide Cloud Forecast 2021-2025 report, total worldwide spending on cloud services – the hardware and software components underpinning the cloud supply chain, and the professional/managed services opportunities around cloud services – will surpass $1.3 trillion by 2025 while sustaining a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.9%.
Companies are being forced to pivot and do business in a digital economy, and the spending on cloud services show cloud will play an even greater, increasingly dominant role as IT departments focus on delivering innovation with speed. It is becoming more challenging for an on-premise alternative to match the functionality or value of a solution built in the cloud.
Why are companies adapting to a cloud first approach?
- Cloud reduces the time it takes to get to market: Turn‑key computing solutions shorten the ideation‑to‑implementation cycle.
- Cloud offers scalability: By being able to provide extra technology resources whenever required, organizations can accommodate sudden spikes in demand.
- Cloud limits capital investment: The business model of cloud enables organizations to focus their time, effort, and resources on using IT services rather than conducting extensive planning exercises to secure capital funding and/or implement IT infrastructure.
- Cloud keeps your technology stack current: The public cloud providers (Azure, AWS, Google) introduce hundreds, thousands of new features and functions on a regular basis.
Edge computing is part of a Hybrid Cloud approach
A cloud-first approach does not mean using the public cloud for 100% of your applications.
According to IDC’s Cloud Pulse 1Q21 2Q21, organizations are continuing to move their non-cloud workloads to a combination of both private and public cloud platforms – a Hybrid cloud model, as well as adapting to a multi-cloud strategy to avoid vendor lock-in.
Further fueling the hybrid cloud approach are new user experiences that require compute power at the Edge. What is the Edge? Edge computing can apply to anything that involves placing service provisioning, data, and intelligence closer to the users. By placing computing resources closer to the user – at the “edge” of the network – rather than in a public cloud or your own data center that might be many miles away in the “core” of the network. Think predictive actions based on data inputs like video, audio or devices – autonomous cars, cashier-less automated checkouts.
Applications that require real-time performance, low latency, and where network connectivity is a constraint are best suited to be done at the Edge, while big data applications that benefit from aggregating data and processing it, economically, through analytics and machine learning algorithms will stay in the cloud. Ultimately, the requirements of the application and the user experience an application needs to provide will dictate where to deploy the workload.
What can I do today?
Be prepared with a cloud first approach and an overall hybrid cloud architecture. Centralize where you can, distribute to the Edge when you have to and set yourself up to innovate with speed. And don’t forget to take into consideration the management and operations of these cloud environments, and adhering to your corporate governance and compliance requirements.