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Becoming cloud-first during the COVID-19 pandemic

A Picture of Charles Green
April 08, 2020 | Topic: Cloud Computing  
Becoming cloud-first during the COVID-19 pandemic

The world continues to go through massive upheaval. One of the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is to force businesses to dramatically accelerate their digital transformation plans. Cloud computing plays a fundamental role in those objectives.

Even before the pandemic took hold, cloud computing was continuing to grow in importance, as organizations spent more and more of their budget on cloud services. In the USA, five times as many businesses rely on public cloud platforms than just five years ago. The cloud is already a tried-and-tested, mature technology.

But of particular importance at the moment, is the essential role that the cloud plays in helping businesses go digital at lightning speed. Here at Belatrix, in the past few weeks we’ve seen increased demand for our cloud solutions, as we help our clients navigate the stormy waters of this pandemic.

As a result, I want to re-publish an earlier interview that we published with Pablo Lecea, one of our senior executives based in San Francisco, where he outlines how Belatrix is helping businesses both develop new digital products designed for the cloud, how we help companies manage their cloud environments, and Belatrix’s “cloud-first” strategy.

Pablo Lecea

What do you mean by “cloud-first”?

We mean that in every discussion we have with our clients, we need to consider the value that the cloud could bring. We evaluate in every proposal and every engagement, whether the cloud could provide additional value. Even for businesses in industries which have historically been relatively slow in their adoption of the cloud, such as financial services often due to regulatory, compliance and security concerns, times have changed, and we must make it part of the conversation.

Banks are today looking to the cloud, not just for discrete applications, but for their core operations. This reflects how it is now a mature technology, with various options – such as using a mix of private, public and hybrid cloud to meet the specific needs of individual organizations.

I don’t think it’s possible to conduct a digital transformation – which every organization either needs to be doing or evaluating at the moment – without the strategic use of cloud computing. It’s simply an integral part of it.

Why do enterprises need the cloud to be agile, flexible organizations?

Services such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft’s Azure, IBM Cloud, enable organization’s to significantly lower their costs, while gaining greater control over their technology decisions.

Leading organizations that make extensive use of the cloud have understood that there is a blend and a trade-off between the scalability that you can achieve in the public cloud, versus having greater control in a private cloud. Typically, large organizations use a mixture, and create a strategy based on what works best for their organization.

What innovation are we seeing in the cloud?

The cloud is already a mature technology, that most organizations in the US rely upon, for various services. But we’re also amid an incredibly exciting time of innovation – new developments around serverless computing and containerization for example. Companies such as Red Hat (IBM), Docker, VMWare, are all pushing containers forward, presenting real options for businesses.

Meanwhile, virtual machines are a key part of enabling organizations to adopt a multi-cloud approach, where a business for example may well use AWS for one service, and Google for another. This demonstrates the increasingly mature approach that organizations are taking.

We’re also seeing the convergence of these new technologies with existing methodologies to overcome some of the challenges. For example, DevOps practices including continuous integration and continuous development can help overcome some of the security concerns that executives have about serverless environments – because a function-as-a-service (FaaS) app enables you to more easily monitor the data flow, and assess whether there are security issues.

How is cloud changing business models?

Moving on from just efficiency and greater technical flexibility with cloud computing, we’re seeing forward-thinking companies move towards shifting their entire business model, in order to thrive in a world where everything is on-demand and delivered as-a-service.

These organizations are creating business platforms, bringing together an ecosystem of partners, to deliver services as needed to their customers. For example, in financial services, we’re seeing some banks (gradually) migrate to become platforms, where they can bring together third party services via APIs.

As its heart, cloud has value when seen as part of an organization’s broader digital transformation strategy. In isolation, moving workloads to the cloud, means organizations will fail to get the full benefit, and may even find themselves in a worse position, because they did not originally develop their applications with the cloud in mind.

What are your top recommendations for companies looking to the cloud?

There is no chance to think about digital transformation without thinking about cloud. Ultimately, digital transformation is about how companies are using technology to change the game, in almost every industry, and that is possible because of cloud. To emphasize three key points:

  1. Don’t think in terms of money. The journey to cloud shouldn’t just be because it is fancy or trendy. It should be because you are developing new capabilities to deliver more and more value to your business. So, cost should be commensurate with the capability, and never because it is cheaper than managing an internal infrastructure. Don’t forget you are transforming your business, that is the opportunity that cloud provides.
  2. Work on change management. The journey to cloud and digital transformation is not about a tech stack. So the first step is to define the business goals, then share them with the rest of the organization as clearly as possible, and be ready to mitigate risks, and manage changes that emerge from constant feedback from your clients. Agile is the best approach to do that.
  3. Write down a “Lean” game plan. This will be an iterative project, always thinking about adding value to the customer. The constraint is achieving balance between performance and scalability, reliability and availability. This is possible if you design good architecture from the beginning. As part of this plan you should consider topics like:
  • Type of cloud
  • Cloud topology
  • Migration plan
  • Non-functional requirements or application development abstraction (DevOps)
  • Cloud management tools

Finally, you will be ready to start the “Lean process”: Implement, deliver, get feedback, and improve or pivot.

Thanks Pablo for sharing your insights. If you want to find out more about Belatrix’s cloud-first approach, then make sure to reach out to us and we’ll be delighted to continue the conversation.

Retail – COVID-19

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