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Embrace cloud to deliver value

Cloud can help companies achieve efficiency, seamless governance and stay agile in a volatile environment

Vishnu Bhat 

How can enterprises achieve economies of scale, reduce spend on technology infrastructure, cut the capital cost, streamline processes, improve accessibility, globalise workforce, effectively monitor projects, enhance flexibility, agility and do more with less? The answer is cloud computing, which is cost effective, flexible and scalable, and it comes with an assurance of raining tangible benefits for the enterprises. This is a silver lining in a dry economic spell parched by emergence of disruptive technologies, continual explosions of exponential data all around us, and shrinking profits.

More and more enterprises across the globe are turning to the cloud to seize unlimited opportunities. India is no different. CIOs are shifting focus to cloud, especially hybrid clouds, as it has fast emerged as a transformative growth engine for businesses, across verticals, big and small. Forward looking leaders are embracing smarter infrastructure and cloud to sail smart during tough times. According to reports, more than 60 per cent of enterprises will have a hybrid cloud by 2015. Some market estimates predict hybrid cloud revenues to jump more than 30 per cent over the next five years, from $21.27 billion in 2013 to more than $79 million in 2018.

Cloud adoption has become central to any forward looking chief information officer's (CIO's) for driving agility and innovation across the enterprise. However, most CIOs today are struggling with the complexities of a hybrid cloud environment. They grapple with issues such as rapid provisioning, fragmented cloud environments, managing multiple providers, and ensuring enterprise-wide governance.

According to a study, 30 per cent of the US buyers with more than 1,000 employees acknowledged that they are concerned with managing their cloud providers. According to the same survey: a key area of concern is integration - integration between different cloud providers as well as choosing the best cloud provider for the job and integration and automation of the orchestration of applications and data securely between private cloud, public cloud and on premise IT environments. However, cloud is not confined to the large enterprises. When we look at the SME segment, cloud is emerging as a clear winner across all segments of the business and infrastructure applications.

As companies commence their cloud adoption journey, they are confronted with several providers, who specialise in infrastructure, platform, and applications. Bringing them together to suit business needs appears to be a daunting task. Fragmented cloud ecosystem and lack of oversight and control result in lack of single point of accountability, unclear SLAs, multiple pricing models and contracts for enterprises looking to get on the cloud. Besides, cloud adoption initiatives are perceived as time consuming and challenging. Additionally, working with cloud providers comes with having to deal with legal, commercial, and technical issues.

Enterprises are beginning to realise that cloud has outgrown itself as an engine of efficiency and has transformed itself as a powerful driver of innovation, enabling collaboration and co-creation. A growing number of organisations across the world are leveraging smarter infrastructure services to lower IT costs, increase efficiencies, realise greater flexibility and drive better decision making. Each industry treats these parameters differently. For example, manufacturing has a greater priority on cost savings than other industry verticals whereas flexibility is a significant factor for banking, finance and insurance organisations. Industries also vary in adopting the type of cloud delivery model.

Smarter automation solutions, advanced analytics, and transformational digital solutions have become the new normal in reducing the enterprise asset footprint and delivering a simple, agile, responsive and resilient IT environment. This helps industrialise enterprise IT and also transform and future proof them with cloud capabilities - public cloud services, private cloud models or a hybrid model.

Smarter cloud solution allows enterprises build and manage a unified hybrid cloud environment to fully realise the benefits from the long-standing promise of the cloud. Businesses can now accelerate time-to-market of cloud services by up to 40 per cent, improve productivity by up to 20 per cent and achieve cost savings of up to 30 per cent.

For instance, Ricoh's European data centre migrated to the cloud model, with an aim to reduce carbon emissions by over 80 per cent by 2050.

A private cloud model was deployed across 35 locations within Ricoh's European operations. Ricoh is now able to reduce its infrastructure costs by up to 30 per cent through the removal of 1,000 servers across the region. This has also resulted in an annual reduction of 16.8k tonnes of CO2 - the equivalent of emissions from 3,350 cars.

Similarly, a major European financial organisation deployed cloud-enabling business and IT leadership to function as internal service brokers and derive fine-grained business and IT consumption details for all users. This has helped the client cut down costs by up to 40 percent and also align their IT audits to new banking regulations.

However, security continues to be one of the most pronounced concerns businesses have around widespread cloud adoption. Risk and compliance are the other facets of security where enterprises are facing a challenge. In some sectors, such as financial services, life sciences and public sector, the need for regulatory and security requirements have increased exponentially over the last few years. This has particularly impacted the adoption of public cloud as questions around due diligence persist. Since the private cloud is essentially an extension of the enterprise environment, it mirrors the enterprise security, risk and compliance framework, and, hence, we expect to see an increased uptake in consumption of private cloud.

Equally important, is the need to deliver a unified cloud ecosystem for enterprises which is interoperable, secure and seamless.

To sum up, companies need to have a trusted partner that can help them restore order to this already chaotic cloud ecosystem. A cloud ecosystem integrator can help as a strategic partner, helping clients tap cloud-based solutions to rapidly address pressing business problems, while removing the burden of having to deal with the commercial, technical, and legal barriers that hinder cloud adoption. This will help enterprises transform their IT through cloud and reap profits through professional services, industry partnerships, and pre-designed and integrated cloud solutions. Are we ready to seize the opportunities and shape the future?

Vishnu Bhat
Senior VP & Global Head, Cloud Infrastructure & Mobility, Infosys

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First Published: Mon, September 15 2014. 00:08 IST