COVID-19 is the juggernaut that has left global corporations grappling with the completely unexpected. Most enterprises are trying to keep their business afloat and on target, exploring strategies that will help remediate the situation. While the majority of organizations focus on short-term recovery measures, they must pay sufficient attention to the medium and long-term strategies that will help re-pivot the business and spur it onto the growth trajectory.
Here’s a look at the current trends in the global eco-political situation and how definitive, cloud-enabled IT transformation can be a game changer for businesses worldwide.
The need to rethink business models
At the strategic level, businesses need to be assessed on geo-political affinities, policies, and sentiments. Many large enterprises have previously relied heavily on certain regional partnerships that no longer seem to be an ideal option for the larger ecosystem. This has left them wanting for options. Firms will also be driven by political agendas that will reassess international trade relationships and determine how engagements should be driven. This will influence some of the benefits enterprises have leveraged until now and will have lasting medium and long-term impact on the business.
Global business trends in the current situation
Many large enterprises in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere have been reviewing their supply chain and operational strategies in the recent past. Various factors including ease of doing business, transparency, regulatory challenges, rising labor costs, and more, have triggered these decisions, prompting companies to take their business to other geographies or even back to base location.
COVID-19 and its aftermath will only hasten these decisions and steps, with many economies already making their moves and announcements in this regard. In fact, Japan announced its largest-ever economic stimulus package of US $990 billion in early April and set aside US $2 billion to keep its businesses safe and help them shift their factories out of China, back to Japan. India has also been strengthening its local industry presence while proposing incentive schemes to reduce dependency on China. Corporations globally will see some accelerated action in the near future with recalibration of both the near-term and long-term strategies.
Industries, specifically those in technology, hi-tech manufacturing, FMCG production, and packaging will probably see exceedingly high traction and impact with these changes. These industries typically have a faster turnaround with a global consumer base served from a central location. Other industries including equipment and electronic goods manufacturers, and global retail chains will also rush to re-pivot their supply strategies. Other major industry segments likely to be impacted are the automobile industry along with energy/utilities. The pharma industry globally has been pioneering cloud adoption as a strategy and de-risking supply channels with due consideration to both network and data security, given the regulatory restrictions. However, the financial sector, despite equally demanding local regulations, will be the one that can easily restructure options with regional strategies and localized impact, leveraging cloud.
Definitive cloud-enabled IT transformation
As organizations reassess their current scenarios and transformation strategies, they will need to evaluate business processes, map them onto existing IT systems and operating procedures, and overcome roadblocks that hinder potential growth.
Specifically, with IT systems, physical movement to a different datacenter is comparatively easy, albeit requiring significant investments. Policies that limit the movement of assets across geographies as well as potential physical damage to assets during transit can be a big limitation to this strategy. This opens up a huge opportunity for migration of workloads from current infrastructure to the cloud. The opportunities and advantages are limitless, and the steps/considerations for migration to the cloud are detailed below.
Strategy for business process transformation
Business processes need to be reimagined so that critical steps of the process have multi-fault-tolerant modes with fall back options. Also, efficiency can be driven through digital process transformation eliminating traditional bottlenecks involving physical presence. Key applications re-wired to cloud native and PaaS services, consuming and re-using other business services/applications, and integrations through APIs can enable the re-wired and reimagined business process transformations.
IT architecture blueprint
Service architecture blueprints can effectively enable new instances of business services on cloud. Agnostic blueprints enabled by infrastructure as code and DevOps drive the instantiation of micro services-based architecture. Delivering cloud-based vertical solutions for enterprises can cut across the boundaries of IaaS while addressing industry requirements. Delivering IT to support businesses through different stages of development, testing, staging, pre-prod, and production can be completely automated with extremely high efficiency levels.
With the advancement of cloud, interconnected networks, and edge computing, it is technically easier to have workloads placed in multiple geographical locations, spread across different availability zones and regions. The edge and cloud model could replace the erstwhile hub and spoke models or centralized IT models to enable the dynamic transition of IT closest to the location where service has to be delivered. As a fall-back option, workloads could also span across other regions or availability zones based on policy driven decision framework. Intelligent placement of workloads that deliver performance at the right price points through modernized applications should be delivered with automation at the core to ensure control and innovation.
Migration of workloads
Multiple transformation paths to migrate workloads through rehost, refactor, replatform or rebuild options are available. Speed and agility being key, these migrations to the cloud can be handled swiftly with the right approach to workloads. Data transformation and application modernization with workload migration into the appropriate placement pockets can not only deliver innovation at scale, it can also transform cost and performance metrics with automated scaling based on loads. Each of these elements should be loosely coupled for scalability while dynamic binding of workloads to infrastructure through multiple interfaces drives the end objective.
Digitization of apps
Applications can be modernized and digitized with interfaces across different ecosystems. Different form factors and paths can be securely delivered through microservices and PaaS. Modern applications are typically released and upgraded in cycles through DevOps releases. Simple wired frameworks operating different modular applications provide a faster time to market and enhance developer productivity. Digitized applications provide various analytical insights that can help operators scale IT to support enhanced user experience.
Enabling any app, any device, any cloud
Applications can now be securely accessed by multiple devices spread across different locations. A tightly coupled application is likely to fail; hence, the need for automated frameworks that can deliver content to users based on their device of choice. Each of these applications can be hosted on any cloud platform through cloud agnostic blueprints. Performance requirements and cost metrics are primary determining factors for the placement of workloads on cloud. A dynamically controlled policy mechanism can be enforced to enable a work environment that allows users freedom in the way they interface with these apps while the backend supports the core engine enabling the services.
While the frontend changes drastically to ensure service availability to users, it is critical to ensure the backend policies, automation engines, and cloud environments are managed and supervised with the right insights. Digital operations drive the new era of service management framework that supports intelligent decisions and enhances user productivity. Insights driven by analytics, automation driven by cloud, and systems performing with predictability and agility should be managed in an agile, futuristic way. Engineering a platform to manage workloads that deliver these attributes is best done by experts who can envision and operate such complex plug and play platforms.
Agile run and optimization
Run services with intelligent operations should adopt a dynamic framework that delivers not only agility in performance through scalability but can also easily scale back with reduced loads for enhanced optimization. Service optimization might come from sources of intelligence or sources of insights. However, a performance driven model that can continuously evaluate infrastructure elements and service contours can balance cost versus performance effectively. Realigning and reprioritizing workload delivery models can be enabled through the right checks and balances, tight governance policies, and definitive outcome-based models.
BCP and DR drills
Chaos is the new paradigm that introduces multiple possibilities of system behavior under different loads in different scenarios. Complete or partial disruption of services also should be factored in for effective service delivery planning to ensure service continuity. Immutable infrastructure that can auto-remediate itself is a possibility in the cloud. Leveraging the robust cloud ecosystem, automation, and infrastructure as code can ensure service availability and business continuity. Policies to ensure testing of these mechanisms through chaos engineering, BCP testing, and DR drills can now be brought in without much impact to ongoing service delivery. A well formulated architecture and automated foundation enables intelligent operations that can incorporate BCP and DR drills as well.
Archive, cleanup, and vaulting
An important security consideration in new age service enablement is the ability to control the footprint a workload leaves behind on the cloud. An automated tracing and tacking mechanism to ensure no persistent data or information is left behind during active service or after termination of service is crucial. A robust security control mechanism must be designed to archive the data securely. Also, it is critical to ensure safe vaulting of data on cloud for regulatory requirements during cleanup of unused devices and footprint. This should ideally be coupled with metadata management for safe access and retrieval.
Closing notes: Cloud-enabled agility for businesses of the future
Organizations need instantaneous availability and support of IT resources during this time of transition, and the cloud enables just that, aiding and transforming connectivity between people and businesses across the globe. Cloud technology provides the necessary foundation to address business requirements in the new age with near-zero deployment time, giving businesses a much-needed competitive advantage.
The change in business and organizational models post COVID-19 will spur companies ahead on their digital transformation journeys and bring in the right automation levers to drive transformation at pace, leveraging what is already built in the form of transformation studio accelerators, service blueprints, and platforms to deliver intelligent operations. With these in place, customers can definitely consider modernizing workloads and moving them to the cloud without the worry of high capital investments.
With zero downtime, ensuring an always-on business for global connectivity, a flexible pay-as-you-go model, lightning fast performance, and enhanced security, cloud enables organizations to start with a small footprint and scale services with load, optimize on the go, and truly transform their business operations. Welcome to the digital world of the future.
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