By Narsimha M
Previously, enterprises viewed cloud as a way to reduce costs and optimise their workloads. Today, the cloud is no longer about merely simplifying infrastructure but about providing faster applications. Delivering applications faster, with innovative features, is the key to creating exciting user journeys and improving customer stickiness. Empowered thus, organisations are increasingly putting customer experience ahead in their strategy for business growth.
In this digital age, data has become paramount. Data is the lifeblood of today’s digital marketplace – the means by which digital enterprises uncover how lean are their operations, how effective are their processes and how engaged are their customers. The ability to leverage data about every customer action can help enterprises craft delightful customer offerings – and this is where cloud is a key differentiator.
Cloud as an enabler of innovation and growth
Applications on the cloud work dynamically to ensure always-on and always-available business operations. With integrated data analytics powered by big data, enterprises can enhance their decision-making process by gleaning insights into possible downtime incidents and failures, understand how their customers interact with their products and services and build services to improve customer satisfaction.
Image Credit: IBM
Image Credit: IBM
Take for example, a global automobile manufacturer that used APIs to leverage big data on cloud and offer real-time contextual services for drivers as well as the extended automobile ecosystem. This way, the company moves beyond being just car manufacturers, but also a creators of a complete experience that covers financial services, concierge services and more, all with the car at the center.
Deploying applications on cloud allows enterprises to play with new functionalities, set up infrastructure much faster than before and go live within days. DevOps plays a vital role in helping such enterprises change on the go and adopt new technologies by leveraging agile practices and people transformation. For instance, an education service provider has leveraged a cloud-based platform that integrates niche enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions and applications to create an integrated community cloud that now connects over 450 schools. This ensures seamless and uniform learning for students of all schools irrespective of location while simplifying the management.
Multi-cloud environments give businesses the flexibility to reduce their dependency on a single cloud provider. In doing so, these environments simplify large-scale operations, manage a variety of workloads and prevent vendor lock-in while improving reliability and accelerating operations – for themselves and their customers.
An enterprise may choose to keep their external facing applications on one cloud vendor while keeping their internal applications hosted on another cloud vendor.
Three ways to leverage the cloud
Lift and shift 
By moving applications in their current state from an on-premise server to that in a cloud environment, enterprises can infuse better functionalities, ensure higher security and deliver a better customer experience at a much lower cost. A case in point here is of a global provider of technology and hardware for document and information management that embarked on a journey to move their services to private clouds, by simply consolidating 9 data centers to two tier-III data centers. By reducing their server count, they not only increased system availability to 99.99 per cent, but were able to slash costs for hosting, hardware, utility, and licensing infrastructure by 30 percent. Besides improving performance, migrating to cloud has helped the client deliver new hosting services for their customers.
Image: Microsoft
Image: Microsoft
Re-engineer applications 
Enterprises need to modernise and upgrade many of their existing applications to be able to work with modern technology. Applications need to be upgraded to function seamlessly in a cloud environment to make them truly scalable and efficient. For example, a software developer for legal firms had designed their products to run on physical servers within law firms. While this was done to safeguard sensitive information, data could be only be accessed from within the customers’ offices. To make things simpler for their customers, the company re-engineered their software to work on the cloud on a multi-tenant model. Now, the software is provided as a service with improved performance and 99.99 per cent system availability. Besides reducing costs incurred by customers, they increased their business by targeting new segments such as small, medium and large firms who can buy their products with zero investment in hardware.
Cloud Native Applications 
While a large number of enterprises are still investing in moving/re-engineering applications for a cloud environment, for many a parallel journey of building applications that are cloud-first is the way forward. This involves understanding cloud computing architecture and taking advantage of cloud computing frameworks, to build and deliver various services directly from the cloud. Recently, a global retailer looking for scalability, agility, productivity, and performance deployed a cloud-based solution that merged a robust e-commerce platform with various systems such as content management, search and recommendations, and cart management. The new platform has helped the retailer rapidly deploy their digital solutions and enter new markets such as Australia, the Middle East and China.
Today, cloud is already an enabler of transformation for organisations looking for simpler operations and leaner workloads. Going forward, it is set to drive greater innovation and growth. The way forward is to leverage cloud along with innovative and emerging technologies such as IoT, blockchain and AI, thereby creating a robust digital foundation that will help smart organisations stay ahead.
The author is SVP and Head – Infosys Validation Solutions & Cloud, Infrastructure and Security, Infosys
Publish date: April 10, 2017 10:52 am| Modified date: April 10, 2017 10:52 am