Accelerating digital transformation with a services approach modern cloud
The cloud computing paradigm has become a key path to and a leading example of successful digital transformation. Although organizations can undergo digitization without relying on the cloud, accessing its myriad benefits expedites and perfects digital transformation by enabling remote user access, distributed collaborations, cost reductions, modernization, and enterprise efficiency.
Digital transformation itself has become imperative in the midst of the ongoing public health crisis, largely due to its role in helping organizations realize these cloud gains. There are several contemporary developments in the cloud space directly impacting its utility and that of digitization in general. The most eminent include the following:
♦ The API economy: The cloud enables a decoupling of services traditionally associated with monolithic platforms, resulting in content management services whereas once there were only costlier product suites. “The idea is really around the end of ownership,” explained Mark Richman, iManage principal product manager. “You’re buying access to a service, and ideally what you’re paying for is tied to the value and the usage the end user is actually getting.”
♦ Hybrid computing: Spurred by cloud-native technologies, hybrid computing allows companies to use resources for compute, storage, and services wherever they are—in different clouds or on-premise. According to Cambridge Semantics CTO Sean Martin, the smart approach is “to do a hybrid play which allows you to use multiple cloud vendors—the three really big ones and the smaller ones—as well as be able to do a certain amount of the work on your own, on-premise.”
♦ Distributed clouds: Fueled in part by projections from Gartner, expectations for the distributed cloud phenomenon—in which there’s intercloud communication to localize resources based on physical location— are decidedly high. “It’s about finding ways to get the data for your particular application in the same neighborhood, if you will, as the rest of your data applications,” summarized Eric Melcher, CTO, Profisee.
♦ Modernization: Whether updating legacy applications or implementing innovative technologies such as cognitive computing, organizations frequently modernize their IT in the cloud. Higher level services such as AI and ML are most interesting when it’s a green-field application. If you have never implemented a technology on-prem before, it can take an enormous amount of upfront investment, and it can make sense to try it in the cloud, observed Vendia CBO Shruthi Rao.
Each of these scenarios decreases the time and effort to fluidly adapt to changing business conditions in today’s unstable times. “It’s often much quicker to spin up cloud resources than it is to provision systems back home,” Martin reflected. “Being able to use the cloud very easily and the way you pay for it, because you don’t have a capital expense anymore, is a good reason to use the cloud.”
The subscription economy
Cloud computing replaces upfront capital expenses with lower operational ones, which is instrumental in hastening digital transformation. In the past, to stand up an application, it was necessary to go through a whole sales cycle, Melcher said. “We had to order hardware and rack it; we had to get the software downloaded and installed. This sort of inherent overhead in running an application is an incentive for a CIO to rationalize things in the cloud.” Organizations can overcome these traditional costs, efforts, and specialized personnel requirements by subscribing to content management services in the cloud much more efficiently.
This model enables them to nimbly access only the services they need while helping themselves to a host of additional benefits. “What started as ways of really mitigating cost and providing easier services to users has resulted in a true transformation of remote access and always-on access,” Richman acknowledged. The subscription economy is particularly effective in public cloud scenarios in which firms can dynamically transfer resources between cloud providers for pricing opportunities. There are even options for determining—for specific workloads—“what the base cost is likely to be for these different places you can run them,” Martin said.