What is unique about companies like Uber, Airbnb, Ebay, Google or Facebook? These are modern enterprises that are in the business of utilizing data and leveraging the capabilities of a modern IT infrastructure.
Some common features of these kinds of companies include:
- their ability to bring products/services to the market very fast (low time-to-market)
- their cost economics, which include high cost efficiency and an ability to link IT costs to revenue
- their ability to hyperscale
One solution: mimic startups
But what if you are an executive in a sector such as financial services, healthcare, public or automotive? How do you create value from data and technology? How do you sustainably acquire key attributes like speed, cost and scale within a modern IT environment while staying trustworthy from a regulatory standpoint? What does your future infrastructure look like?
One solution is to mimic current startups: that is, move all your capex to an opex model in which you merely consume cloud services from a centralized provider. But, while such a system with a proprietary API-led approach may seem like a viable alternative, it is not a sustainable way to address the needs of large corporations, due to the trust and regulatory issues associated with centralized clouds. Apart from speed, cost and scale, companies in highly regulated sectors also require a trustworthy infrastructure.
IT infrastructure alternatives for traditional industries
One possible alternative for traditional industries is to do what Amazon did to their book business, or what Ebay did with their auction business, that is, to embrace a platform lead approach to their IT and build their infrastructure themselves, gaining the advantages of cloud without risking their own businesses. You might think it’s a long shot for most traditional industries to reinvent themselves as a technology or a software company. Probably not!
The industry is maturing with the right kind of toolset and with vendors that can provide industrialized infrastructure (like hyperscale, multi-cloud platform with no-vendor lock-in) to enable traditional companies to acquire the four key attributes of speed, scale, cost and trust. Let's evaluate each of these attributes and see how the available technology toolset enables them.
Every company wants to bring new ideas and concepts to the market in the shortest possible time (TTM). From a software development perspective, this requires the ability to turn an idea into code into production in the shortest possible time and in a secure manner. Concepts like microservices provide you more freedom to craft your software, and a policy-enabled continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD) pipeline together with containers and microservices enable an automated build-test-and-deploy solution for any application all within a single framework in a highly governed manner.This tremendously improves applications to be launched and consumed as services via APIs. Public cloud solutions do not address this speed aspect unless you embrace these techniques into your development and production environments.
Modern businesses have full visibility of their cost structures. These companies do not treat IT as a cost that they just pay for. Instead, they have a fully automated environment where their IT costs and infrastructure productivity is directly tied to their revenue. They typically have a high-density datacenter with an optimized TCO model with highly efficient computing environments.
On the other hand, traditional businesses are bogged down by their inability to assess ROI on their IT. Their server utilization ranges from 5-15 percent, with low visibility into their infrastructure. They treat IT as a cost, and they merely consume it. For global corporations, adopting a public cloud is only deferring their decisions and thinking short term in addressing their cost propositions. The right approach is to address costs end-to-end from the grid to the application level and be able to fine-tune the costs in all aspects of development, production and operations.
Technologies like software-defined hyperscale infrastructure and containers, among others, contribute to better asset utilization thereby bringing in direct benefits of cost economics. For example, containers have low runtime requirements and, together with a shared infrastructure, allows for a tremendous increase in resource utilization, thereby reducing the costs. Another example is the dynamic configurability of capacity (versus pre-configured) in software-defined hyperscale infrastructures, which allows you to optimize your operational costs.
Most of large enterprises are already experiencing massive growth in the amount of data they handle. This requires infrastructures that can evolve (both scale up and scale down) to meet the demands of the changing needs. Underlying any of the modern IT companies are scale-supporting infrastructures with warehouse-sized datacenters with exabytes of storage capacity and high bandwidth networks.
Enabling an elastic, microservice lead workload deployment strategy - together with the capability to hyperscale right from the hardware (compute, network and storage) - brings scale capabilities to any datacenter. The key is being able to aggregate pools of resources with high visibility and being able to utilize this on-demand.
Concerns of security and governance have constrained many global multinationals from adopting public cloud services. While a centralized cloud system may provide better security from a technology point of view, it fails to address key concerns around trustworthiness and regulatory compliance. With increasing amounts of data, being able to guarantee integrity of your data irrespective of where it resides brings in unique benefits of auditability and automation. The key here is a robust policy framework to distribute your application workload, regardless of the provider, in a vendor agnostic manner with OpenAPIs.
The tremendous advancements in the technology has created a unique opportunity for any global enterprise to leverage the benefits of cloud computing without the risk associated with a centralized cloud model. Therefore, these four attributes of speed, cost, scale and trust are the fundamental values that any company needs to look for in modernizing their infrastructure in their digitization journey.
To get further insight into our vision of the cloud and hyperscale, please read a new article in Ericsson Business Review by industry pioneer Jason Hoffman -The Wisdom of Clouds: