Insight, Opinion

Is cloud native right for you?

Author: Simon Bennett, Rackspace CTO for EMEA

Since the early days of the pandemic, most people in IT will have been drawn into critical discussions around agility – both in responding to the immediate challenges of COVID-19 and in establishing a foundation for the future. The cloud has been central to achieving this agility; many companies that have already started making the shift towards public cloud were pleased to rapidly take advantage of the ability to quickly scale down and up as required to support their business needs in real time.

The growing investment in cloud infrastructure and services hasn’t just arisen due to the pandemic, with our research of more than 500 EMEA IT leaders revealing that prior to the pandemic, 67% were either in progress of or planning to move to a multi- or hybrid cloud model in 2020, and 74% had similarly started or planned to develop cloud-based solutions. But it has undoubtedly grown in importance and accelerated demand in the past few months, as three quarters said that recent events have led them to bring these projects forward (73% and 76% respectively).

Innovation unleashed

We’ve heard a lot about how the pandemic has accelerated the decision of many businesses to move to the cloud. As a result of this move, several organisations have understood the true value that cloud flexibility and agility affords – innovation.

Using the cloud to transform the IT environment and processes to support the adoption of emerging technologies – like the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning – as well as the ability to leverage automation to build self-healing, auto-scaling applications that are free from server limitations. This, in turn, enables intelligent scaling that helps balance infrastructure resources against demand.

Innovation was a key motivation for Aramex, a leading global provider of comprehensive logistics and transportation solutions. Whilst the team had innovation and self-development as a top priority, everything was built on-premise and that resulted in an environment – with its interdependencies and legacy core products – which prevented the team from being as responsive to changing consumer trends.

Similarly, Relay42’s pursuit to become cloud native was fuelled by opportunities to further utilise the newest services that AWS rolls out to ensure it remains at the leading edge of data personalisation. The data management firm already leverages artificial intelligence to deliver up to 500,000 personalised customer data events per second. Cloud native tools are the key to providing data at scale to millions of customers and across billions of touchpoints.

Cloud native processes are essential components towards driving efficiency and productivity improvements. For instance, teams might discover new ways of improving outdated, inefficient, and manual processes. This not only can increase employee and customer satisfaction, but is integral to developing a more agile product development process and accelerating releases. It was an important factor in Aramex’s decisions as part of its migration to AWS to make sure that all of its cloud applications were native to the cloud environment, rather than simply “lift and shift” legacy products into the cloud. Aramex and Rackspace Technology are now developing a new cloud-based architecture that will be reusable across more than 60 applications.

Companies are clearly seeing the value of cloud native tools and process. Our research found that  nearly all of the IT leaders we surveyed were either actively using cloud native tools and processes (51%) or considering adopting them in their organisation (47%).

Opportunities not obstructions

There are occasions however when IT teams are better skilled at legacy technologies or different models, which often leads to a skills gap, preventing an organisation from shifting to the cloud as up- or re-skilling is considered a drain on budgets. This shouldn’t be perceived as an insurmountable hurdle for organisations for whom the skills required to make the migrations from legacy to cloud platforms, then optimise and manage it, seem completely out of reach. Professional services consultants can provide the hands-on support for migrations and solution implementations as well as work with internal teams to coach them on new practices, and support in fostering the wider cultural shift needed to move towards the new ways of managing IT.

Not all organisations will be ready or want to make the shift towards becoming wholly cloud native. But understanding the approach and the potential benefits it brings will be advantageous to all IT leaders when creating a cloud environment that needs to serve the business today and in the future. Because whether you’re taking the plunge or adopting elements into your hybrid or multicloud strategy, the value that cloud native practices bring to an organisation will only become more critical where agility, innovation and productivity will be core to business success and keeping ahead of the competition.

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