Cloud Operations: Creating Business Agility

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The trend is steady and unmistakable: Businesses are moving to the cloud. In stages, they are moving externally and internally facing services and custom and off-the-shelf applications and services. They are adopting infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), software as a service (SaaS), increased virtualization, microservices, and containerization for improved reliability and performance. They are using public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid clouds; but the trend has been shifting to the public cloud in the last few years at an accelerating rate.

We are seeing this trend toward cloud in the communications technology industry. Traditional on-premises communications services have been moving to the cloud for over a decade, but we are now starting to see this happen on a larger scale.

The question is: What is driving businesses to the cloud? The answer is not quite clear; however, many assume that it is totally cost driven. This is partially true, however, deployment of services in the cloud is being mainly driven by reduced operational costs by leveraging the scale of cloud services.

But cost is not the only reason businesses are moving to the cloud at an accelerating pace. There are a few key business and technology reasons or challenges that Data Perceptions has identified and summarized with the acronym RASSCAL (Reliability & Availability, Scalability, Security, Configuration, Automation, Logistics) that we believe to be more significant driving factors than pure cost. Not only are operational costs reduced, but scaled operations allow RASSCAL improvements across the board with increased agility with pay-as-you-go services.

Reliability & Availability

As enterprise products and services are increasingly globalized with supplier and customer ecosystems becoming more tightly integrated, the demand for reliability and availability has increased substantially. Moving services to be hosted in the cloud allows the service to be instantly more reliable and available to customers, suppliers, and employees. The service can exist with failover across multiple data centers with limited additional investment or effort. This improves uptime and allows IT staff to focus on applications and data instead of base infrastructure.

Most cloud providers have gone beyond basic IaaS (compute and storage) and have added many PaaS features that can be used to further improve reliability and availability. Features such as databases, containerization, security, artificial intelligence and machine learning, analytics, Internet of Things, blockchain, DevOps and developer tools, and others, provided as a service, can improve how systems are deployed and reduce IT staff effort.

One challenge for businesses that host internal applications in the cloud is reliable connectivity to the cloud with enough capacity. A popular way of addressing this issue has been the deployment of software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solutions that can aggregate bandwidth across multiple Internet connections and prioritize/optimize traffic and applications.

Scalability

Many businesses are challenged to predict the impact on IT resources, as business demands increase or decrease. Historically, IT needed to gaze into a crystal ball and determine the capacity they would need 12, 24, and 36 months in the future so they could build infrastructure to support the business. The inevitable outcome would be that they would over or under provision some or all aspects of the infrastructure. One of the key benefits of cloud services is that it is elastically scalable and can grow and shrink with demand. This could be hourly, daily, monthly, or yearly, allowing the business to excel at providing services with scalability and agility for adjustments.

Continue to next page: Security, Configuration, Automation, Logistics