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A Walk in the Clouds

Technology is advancing at a tremendous pace today, and every business is now turning into an IT company of sorts. Digital transformation is the need of the hour, and the first word that comes to mind when we think of key enablers to digital transformation, is the cloud. Having a robust cloud infrastructure means you don’t need to invest in operational centers anymore. It directly impacts the money your business makes, boosts cost efficiency and increases scalability. That’s not the best part. Most cloud computing programs ranging from CRM to productivity suites to ERP also come with flexible payments, thus making this entire process more OpEx friendly. The cloud also supports the workforce by easily enabling virtualized environments where team members can more or less set up workstations anywhere and everywhere. With seamless disaster recovery, commercial & technical flexibility, storage space and fast application deployment, digital transformation remains incomplete without a proper cloud setup.

There is another side to the story tough. The biggest hurdle CIOs probably face, is that businesses know that they need to transform digitally, but they are on tenterhooks when it comes to deciding on how or where to start. It’s their job to identify the correct drivers, motivations and improvement areas to develop a cloud strategy that fits well within the existing digital ecosystem. Licensing and bandwidth costs, storage capabilities and complex data integration all need to be charted out, and of course, none of this can happen without a skilled technical team to supervise these implementations in real time.

It’s important to think about building cloud systems in a manner that allows emerging technologies to be plugged in as they arise. CIOs should also be thinking about creating best practices that can be reused, adding to the scalability factor. It is also important to put data governance and quality at the heart of your business strategy, else it’s simply “garbage in, garbage out” which will impact business performance down the line. As more than half of IT spend becomes cloud based and security takes the lead, tech leaders also need to take care of rules like GDPR when devising cloud strategies. Only when you can ensure your end-customers that their data is safe and secure can you consider this transformation fruitful.

There are other important questions that need to be asked. What part of your traditional infrastructure do you migrate first, since shifting it all at once may not possible? What are the potentially hidden costs? Do you want these DX efforts to take over traditional IT, or do you want a mix of both? There are so many models to pick and choose from, that you might end up getting confused. Choosing between SaaS, PaaS and IaaS is the first step. Think of it as choosing whether to dine out, get dinner home delivered, or cooking it yourself.

  1. Dining out, or SaaS: Most control here lies with the service provider. At this level, there is no software installation involved. Something as simple as being able to operate environments through browsers is SaaS
  2. Getting food delivered, or PaaS: Here, you don’t think about the servers or the internals, and this is better suited to develop and deploy applications
  3. Preparing dinner yourself, or IaaS: This is where you are typically using virtual machines on someone else’s servers rather than your own. Of course, the food you cook yourself comes with an innate satisfaction that dining out cannot compare with, but it also complicates things a bit

Let’s take the example of the fast food giant McDonalds and their digital transformation journey. With one of the biggest supply chains in the world, every order adds on to the customer data being collected. With more than 100 markets, 1000 integration jobs and 10,000 users across technologies, siloed data became a problem and reducing friction was imperative. They used native services from AWS as their primary cloud solutions, but also backed it up with Azure for its data analytics capabilities. Thus, they set up a seamless multi cloud set up and within the course of a year were able to create a platform that helped them scale up while ensuring proper data compliance, governance and security. That’s what you call innovation.

Another critical decision is to decide whether one should be on public, private or hybrid cloud. While public cloud is easy to manage and offers increased scalability, a private cloud brings greater control and better security for mission-critical data. Hybrid cloud brings the best of both worlds, merging public and private cloud for lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and enhanced security. Some applications may need to remain on-premises or in a private cloud due to security and regulatory requirements, while other data can be more easily stored in the public cloud. This is where typically choosing the right service provider to support these decisions becomes critical.

Most businesses seem to be migrating towards a hybrid cloud arrangement because it’s the perfect combination of efficiency and effectiveness. It allows you to transition at your own pace and simplifies things a bit because moving applications is not just a lift and shift. It allows you to start small. A public web site, a small application with few security requirements or something as simple as your office automation tools – think where you are headed and then start the transformation. Educating your entire organization about the pros and cons of hybrid cloud is also up to you, otherwise these efforts are as good as futile. Moving to the cloud is not an IT decision, it’s a business decision. Knowledgeable support is the need of the hour because ultimately it is the operational teams that will drive this forward.

Mostly, businesses opt for the big three, namely AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google cloud. However, there’s also a new kid on the block. In only a few years, Alibaba cloud has made its mark. How you choose between these providers depends on whether you are looking for entry level solutions or enterprise level growth.

For high-end computational services, it does not get better than AWS which comes with pay-as-you-go services along with over a hundred different offerings. However, you will need to be familiar with the hybrid cloud infrastructure to determine how the AWS suite of services can be best utilized during migration. While, overall, AWS is easy to use and has one of the simplest operating consoles, you may have a bit of an issue with data movement. When it comes to testing tools and building IoT apps, the private cloud backed Azure is another viable option especially now since it’s compatibility with non-Microsoft platforms has improved tremendously. Alibaba cloud has had a growth trajectory which is unparalleled and with more than 360,000 transactions per second, its capabilities are directly competing with AWS, however their presence has predominantly been Far East based and their local service centers have not been around for as long as the rest of the players. Each of these services have their set of pros and cons and it takes specially trained solution architects to define which is the “right” way to go for your organization.

No one said it would be easy, but innovation and disruption is the only way ahead. While the road to a successful cloud migration is daunting alone, the journey becomes easier when you have someone to guide you through. With more than three decades of experience in legacy and record-based systems, traditional architecture, hybrid environments, we’ve seen it all. Our gamut of technical capabilities extends across cloud consulting, cloud architecture and management, enterprise cloud solutions, containerization & microservices and helping businesses chart out customized adoption frameworks. You don’t have to look much further to #GetITRight!

Optimizing Your Cloud Game One Step At A Time!

According to Gartner, IT spending backed by the cloud will cross $3.7 trillion in the next two years or so. While that’s a huge number it’s not that surprising. Ever heard of organizations taking up digital transformation without using the cloud? I surely haven’t. Everyone is understanding the true value of disruption, and technologies like AI and IoT are seeing increased consumer demand today. This means that the demand to leverage the cloud within organizations is also on the rise. Public cloud platforms like AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google and Alibaba Cloud have already made a mark for themselves in this rapidly changing technological landscape, and rightly so. They offer businesses a chance at better investment value, higher delivery speeds, increased agility, better storage options, and typically costs less. Works like a charm, right?

It sounds simple, but really, it isn’t. I’ll tell you why. Most businesses look at the cloud as one entity, but that’s not the case. The cloud is not just one platform. It is an integrated system of different hardware, software and logical links that work together to collate data and bring it to the end-user. Many organizations also feel that migrating legacy infrastructures on to the cloud may be a boon for them, and hence, rush into it. This is where they lose out.

Let’s talk about spend first. For example, AWS offers pay-as-you-use services along with easy scalability, which is a great or obvious reasons. You only pay for what you use, so spends are ideally optimized. But here’s the catch. Without technical experts on board, analyzing cloud costs to run a given service becomes difficult. You may end up paying for unneeded options, and forego ones that would actually be beneficial. Sometimes, cloud-service bills may also be vague, so you simply don’t get the data you need to understand what’s driving the spikes and dips in costs. Research says that almost half of compute resources that organizations sign up for are used for non-production purposes, and the majority of servers used for these functions only need to run during the typical 40-hour work week, not 24/7. If that’s the case, you may end up losing out on a lot of money!

Moving on to the utilization front, while a key advantage of moving to cloud is that you have unlimited capacity, enterprises often buy more capacity than they need, to ensure that they have enough resources to handle technological expansion. Then come applications. While planning computing resources, application owners will typically go by the data they have in hand from physical server days (because they don’t really have a precedent) as well as some assumptions around perceived business needs they see coming. And, since this estimation is made keeping in mind the worst disaster and the best growth scenarios, there is ample risk of over provisioning. In fact, no resource restriction actually serves as a motivator for over provisioning.

Published analysis suggests that in the current scenario, many organizations that take up cloud migration do not utilize more than 10 percent of its potential. The best case scenario is a utilization of 30 to 40%. Right Size Cloud Capacity is therefore a necessary consideration, if you really want to maximize cloud value.

So how do you make sure that your cloud resources are being utilized optimally?

A few critical things need to be kept in mind before taking this leap: how much are you spending now and hence willing to spend, how you will sustain peak efficiency with business drivers, and how will automation impact the day to day functioning of your organization?

The first step to solving the puzzle is to choose what kind of a cloud model you would want for your business. For eg: If you are a large scale multinationals, the hybrid cloud could be the most viable.  It gives you better flexibility in terms of deciding on the best combination of pay-per-use public cloud, private cloud and an on premise presence. For one, the migration itself becomes staggered and you get the space to decide on a pace, including, giving your internal team the time to come up the curve. To add to that, cloud automation and monitoring tools help you control extra costs and maximize resource utilization. For example: following the capacity versus utilization curve by AWS might be a good start for you to draw a parallel between your demands, budgets and the level of scalability that you are looking at for your business. This will also guide you to move from an infrastructural mindset to an overall IT centric approach.

All of this sounds easy on paper but when you start getting your hands dirty and implementing these changes, it can get really complicated. You can have all the tools and automated processes set in place, but if you don’t have a core, skilled team driving the move, it can very quickly turn into a veritable battleground. Yes, technology has overtaken every other industry with the pace at which it is evolving, but human learning and understanding is irreplaceable.

A lesson learnt in our three decades of experience within the traditional IT framework, with legacy systems, and now with the digital tech following a more agile development model. When it comes to the cloud there will always be difficult questions, but we have managed to answer them all, right from cloud architecture management, cloud migration to enterprise cloud solutions and cloud consulting. We’ve been helping our clients #GetITRight for decades!

‘Managed’ GICs for ‘Managing’ Budgets and more!

In todays’ hyper-paced business environment where continuous delivery and continuous innovation have become a norm, CIOs must take a continuous approach to budget optimization as well. With so much c-suite thrust on balancing innovation with cost and delivery, it’s safe to assume that this is continuously on their mind! While the technology itself dominates the narrative when it comes to budget allocation, the people who manage and deliver the technology is an equally important aspect that can not only contribute to cost arbitrage, but also deliver immense value to the enterprise.

For this it’s important that IT leaders take a more strategic view of talent acquisition and management (both internal and external), unlike the tactical approach they usually take. We recently did a study of IT cost structures to help our clients understand how to think about their overall IT costs and how to use the right talent management strategy to free up budgets. The study was conducted across diverse companies and revealed that total IT talent costs are consuming on an average 53% of the IT budget! This points to a huge opportunity gap, both in managing IT talent and costs thereof.

A managed GIC sometimes referred to as the managed captive model is a proven framework for plugging these gaps and creating more value for your enterprise. It gives you all the strategic benefits of a Global In-House center, while mitigating your legal risks, protecting your IP risks and solving your day to day management issues. Plus, access to a quality talent pool means that your managed GIC can serve as the R&D and Innovation Hub for your enterprise and contribute positively to your bottom-line.

Versitae and Systems Plus together have decades of experience in operating this model for clients where our clients achieve 30%+ cost savings on average compared to traditional offshoring. Our experience allows us to refine our approach and fine tune our processes to make it easy and efficient for clients to adopt the MGIC model. From team design to Sourcing and Onboarding to managing the entire talent lifecycle, we can help you with end-to-end operationalization of your strategic talent pool.

The benefits of the MGIC platform are many – Not only is it a fully transparent model with complete control, but it’s also EBITDA accretive. Additionally, the MGIC platform gives you access to high quality tech talent with deep domain expertise in emerging areas like AI, data science and cloud. To discover it for yourself, reach out to us for a free consult along with a free price comparison matrix tailor made to your skill needs.