It’s now widely accepted that migration to the cloud is inevitable. In the digital age, it’s increasingly difficult for businesses to compete without having the right cloud solutions in place. As cloud has matured, it has become essential to innovation and growth.
Meanwhile, whole industries are being upended by new 'digital-first' businesses that are transforming their operations and services to out-compete traditional incumbents. Recent enterprise research shows just how important digital now is to businesses, with more than 80 per cent having strategies based on digital initiatives.
In a world where business agility is at a premium, organisations are under more pressure than ever to make the right technology investments. As technology shifts from the back-office to becoming a major enabler of business strategy, it’s fair to say that today’s IT investment decisions are make-or-break in terms of their impact on business performance — businesses absolutely have to get it right. When it comes to cloud investments, the new agile enterprise is moving beyond the traditional distinction between public and private cloud towards a more complete model that combines the options and capabilities of both. This increasingly applies to enterprise-grade applications — not just to the periphery of enterprise IT — as the maturing digital business demands agility right across workloads.
At its heart, cloud is about the rapid delivery of enterprise applications at low cost. These qualities often define the experience customers and employees have of business applications. The emerging enterprise cloud model focuses on delivering these benefits while vastly reducing complexity. Crucially, the mix of IT consumption (whether on-premise, converged infrastructure or private clouds, public cloud, hybrid cloud, and even on-premise public cloud) needs to allow for the seamless movement of workloads between them. That flexibility is the essence of an enterprise cloud model.
In this context, enterprise clouds have the potential to unleash a different level of IT flexibility. They allow businesses to completely join up all their data and IT resources in an agile virtualised environment that allows for rapid and cost-effective testing of new applications in whichever IT environment makes most sense, and with the right level of data access for each project.
So how can businesses ensure they have an effective integrated cloud strategy in place? As a starting point, IT needs to develop a clear vision that aligns current cloud investments not only in a common architecture but with a cohesive set of business goals. This involves building a cloud strategy that is systematically integrated, as opposed to stitching public and private cloud elements together as an ad hoc response to isolated workload or application requirements. This is the difference between merely making cloud resources compatible and making them work towards a common purpose. Today, more often than not, they do neither.
Future-proofing your cloud strategy
A future-proof cloud strategy will involve building consistent and compatible public and private cloud architectures that work together seamlessly: a function-rich public cloud suitable for enterprise IT, combined with equivalents that can be deployed within the data centre. Most businesses might need time to migrate to this ideal model, but it’s clear that they need to start preparing for it, and investing, now.
Digital transformation is not a matter of choice. If businesses are to survive they need to be agile, data-led, responsive, and capable of innovating quickly; only digital transformation can enable organisations to meet these requirements. It’s now clear that the cloud is a core foundation for the digital enterprise and the extent to which businesses get their cloud strategies right over the next few years will directly impact their ability to be truly agile and compete effectively as a result.
John Abel, Senior Business Director, Oracle Engineered Systems
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