The experience of COVID has accelerated migration to the cloud for thousands of businesses, says Saurav Gupta, sales engineer, InterSystems.
Lockdowns, the growth of remote working and the explosion in SaaS applications combined to make the flexibility of public cloud very attractive. It is a trend that is set to continue. Gartner, for example, predicts worldwide spending on public cloud by end-users will grow by 18% this year, hitting $305 billion (€259.85 billion) in total. The consultancy estimates that next year the figure will be $362 billion (€308.41 billion).
Cost is important but this rapid expansion into the public cloud is primarily about opening the door to new eco-systems of applications based on a common infrastructure and resources.
The three main cloud vendors have created a broad range of services which organisations view as a platform for the development of applications across their whole enterprise. It is also possible to achieve major economies of scale when working with big data without being tied into excessively rigid contracts. Once an organisation has achieved a specific project it can scale back its requirements and reduce its costs.
Containerisation technology, which packages software code and its dependencies so it runs on any infrastructure, has also accelerated cloud migration. Customer relationship management, resource-planning and sales applications have all been moving into the cloud. Oil and gas and major logistics companies already use public cloud computing and storage capabilities, and banks employ its flexibility and scale for mobile applications.
Process automation, the continuance of remote or hybrid models of working by major enterprises along with the increased use of collaboration apps and services such as SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) will all further hasten migration to the cloud.
The cloud will also meet the increased appetite for artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) enabled services, but on a managed services basis to optimise flexibility, cost-management and provide rapid access to the most effective solutions as they prove their worth.
Many companies now view cloud as a business priority
In other words, cloud has become a strategic priority. Enterprises now have separate business units looking at data strategy which are no longer part of the core infrastructure team. They examine how organisations store and use data, how it can enrich the services they provide and how businesses become data-driven.
Yet for all this enthusiasm and understanding of the transformational benefits of cloud migration, many organisations lack the right skills to manage and optimise deployments and to integrate data so it can be used for maximum business value.
Despite advances in containerisation, it is not easy to move many in-house applications into the cloud without extensive and costly re-engineering. These may be business-critical applications that were built for very specific purposes and which rely on operating systems not supported in the cloud. Re-engineering such applications requires a set of skills that most organisations do not have in-house.
Network bandwidth also circumscribes what organisations can do, limiting access to certain high performance, low-latency requirements that require dedicated infrastructure. This is why the hybrid cloud is the future for many enterprises. They will use the cloud for backups and archiving, with APIs into the cloud, retaining critical applications and sensitive data in on-premises data centres. The constant change in an enterprise’s requirements and the development of new applications also makes cloud-management challenging.
Simplicity is the key to successful cloud deployment
What has become apparent is that the organisations that thrive in the cloud will be those keeping their new data infrastructure simple so it can adapt to new requirements and remain easy to manage. Complexity only undermines long-term flexibility.
A simplified approach that leverages a flexible, cloud agnostic data platform that also supports on premises deployments gives enterprises the ability to develop, deploy and maintain their solutions in the cloud and in hybrid environments, supporting multiple cloud environments and the ability to change cloud providers seamlessly without rewriting code.
Automation takes care of deployment to whichever environment the use case requires. Containerisation capabilities within a platform provide the agility and repeatability needed to revolutionise how organisations respond to business and technology needs.
By making the data fully interoperable between systems and applications, a single platform takes care of management of the database and analytics. Organisations can enjoy the efficiency and agility of the cloud and containerised software without the necessity for major development or retooling areas where they may lack the necessary skills. They can more easily gain all the advantages of cloud infrastructure, adopting new software engineering processes to simplify the development, deployment, and maintenance of real-time, data-intensive solutions.
This simplification of architecture and reduction in the number of moving parts increases portability and flexibility, and reduces the opportunities for things to go wrong, without sacrificing performance or scalability. It is the most straightforward and effective way for businesses to overcome the skills gap and fully optimise public cloud and hybrid deployments for greater agility and overall business efficiency.
The author is Saurav Gupta, sales engineer, InterSystems.
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