Cloud comes of age

The year may see CIOs going for Cloud First strategy

India is on the cusp of digital revolution, thanks to the government’s ambitious Digital India project and key sectors digitizing their service offerings. For example, led by Digital Lockers, the government is gradually in the process of streamlining all citizen services over the Internet. On the other hand, high growth sectors like ecommerce, banking & finance, education etc. are using digital platforms like mobile phones to reach more effectively to their consumers and stay competitive. Factors like these are providing the right platform for cloud computing to unleash its true potential and drive new wave of disruption.
In such dynamicbusiness environment, SMBs and large enterprises are left with no choice but to constantly drive business transformation. A cloud-first strategy can help CXOs embark on this journey. With industry analyst predicting a strong upward momentum in adoption, cloud services providers (CSPs) should focus on providinghighly available, easily scalable andextremely reliable solutions to take business faster to market.
Although CIOs have been penning cloud strategies for past few years, concerns like security, compliance, outages and data proliferation have marredthe complete rollout strategy. The genesis of this pain-points lies in the way the first cloud computing architecture was built.
Inception of Cloud:
This is a far cry from the days when cloud and grid computing gained popularity after an e-commerce giant made its cloud platform available to others. This horizontal scaling based cloud platform soon gained popularity among other sectors. As SME’s, banks, telco’s and other enterprises needed more in-memory compute power along with enterprise RDBMS, this platform was not best suitable for their requirement. This forced enterprises to change theirI T architecture to make it compatible with the e-commerce cloud. Therefore, CIOs with Legacy applications, Enterprise Databases, SAP/ ERP / SAP HANA reverted to on-premise or migrated to the traditional managed IaaS.
Although the hype surrounding cloud has increased in the last couple of years, many enterprises have failed to go beyond the proof of concept (PoC) stage. 
Not all implementations succeed. Delivering a best cloud strategy requires the following pre-requisites to be carefully considered to drive measurable business and stakeholder benefits.

  • Superficial expectations: Like traditional projects, cloud implementation should be a part of an enterprise wide strategy. CIOs must set a list of realistic expectations on addressing the right business problem. In many instances, cloud is generally adopted with short-term focus, but transforms into a long-term project, which obviously fails to meet high expectations of the stakeholders. Before on-boarding with a CSP, CIOs need to have detailed comparison between their Application and Database Architecture and the Architecture of the Cloud platform provided by the CSP.
  • Financial realities are different: Enterprises chiefly adopt cloud for cost advantage. It is therefore critical for the project team to analysethe TCO and identify the actual cost vs. the perceived cost benefit (ex: pay-per-use vs. pay-per-consume). It is important to continuously monitor the scope and put in place effective change management measures.
  • Understand the requirements up front: Understand that organizational dynamics change over time. Hence it is critical to adopt an agile strategy for cloud adoption that responds to change faster and deliver incremental value. This approach helps fulfil SLAs and reduces development cost and time to market (TTM).
  • Jumping too quickly into technology:Green lighting the technology before having a finite idea of the requirements is a cloud disaster. SLA’s from the CSPs get ignored in the negotiations phase and any legal or penalty clauses are put on the channel partner of the CSPs who are much smaller in size compared to the CSPs. It is important to scrutinize the organizational objectives, set roadmap and spend quality time on drafting the SLAs which are mutually acceptable. Technology should be selected in consideration with future business prospective and long-term performance parameters.
  • Unskilled resources: Cloud requires different technical capability and skills to integrate with on-premise infrastructure. Till the recent past, resource deficiency was one of the major bottlenecks. Vendors and enterprises are now investing in skilling their resources through different certifications and live PoC demos.

A silver lining
The majority of CIOs are penning a Cloud First strategy for 2016.
The reason being infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is now used for almost all use cases including development and testing environments; high-performance computing and batch processing; internet-facing websites and web-based applications; and non-mission-critical internal business applications, hosted on virtualized x86-based servers.
CIOs of both enterprises as well as SME’s are looking at digital transformation and are under immense pressure to adopt cloud for business agility, productivity and profitability. Vertical auto-scaling is an ideal solution that helps borrow resources automatically from the cloud in real-timeand relieves them once the workload is not intensive.
As CIOs draw their IT strategy to embark on the growth path, cloud can disrupt and completely transform how business functions. Organizations can dramatically change the way they engage with customers, partners, vendors and truly stayagilein responding to business changes. Hence in 2016, cloud computing needs to be a core organization asset and change business dynamics.
(The author is MD & CEO, ESDS)

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