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Success in the Cloud

The Cloud Computing is an Information Technology (IT) paradigm shift which enables ubiquitous or on-demand delivery of computing resources over the internet. Configurable systems, resources and advanced-level services can be rapidly provisioned with minimal management effort with the pay-as-you-use model. According to an old joke, the cloud is described as using someone else's computer for doing your work. 

Cloud Computing is revolutionizing everything in this world, right from how we live, work, communicate or manage our health. However, Cloud Computing is not a new technology buzzword and is not a new idea at all. The concept of cloud has been around for years. It is the speed with which they are rapidly transforming the business models, and efficiencies have accelerated it today and the role of the internet that has enabled the storing of the data off-site. 

The primary driver for cloud adoption de facto revolves still around the traditional benefits of moving from "CapEx to an OpEx," environment or business model. While the most critical concept in Cloud Computing is "Hyperscale." Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have all invested and built tons of computing infrastructure, and their 'Data Centers' are vastly huge, way faster and efficient than those operated or could be built by most of the other companies.

These giants have rented out their computing capacity to companies and developers around the world. A company or a developer can get access to unlimited computing power by just swiping a credit card. The companies across the globe can serve many customers for less cost, less downtime, and with higher performance only by tapping into the supercomputing power of these cloud computing systems which they cannot in their own data centres. Apart from that, it helps the businesses to save significantly on IT Infrastructure costs and reduce the risks of maintenance, provides easy scalability, smart mobility for quick decision-making, immediate access to data, and better-organised of data-storage. 

All the major cloud computing players offer the similar basic set of services:

1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): The most basic level of cloud computing which provides the customers with Virtual Servers and Storage.

2. Platform as a Service (PaaS): It provides set of tools and services which makes it easier for the developers to build software applications without worrying about which servers they are running their application. 

3. Software as a Service (SaaS): It provides organisations with ready to use applications. They are a combination of cloud-based compute and storage service. It refers to applications that run in cloud-like Microsoft's Office 365, Google"s G Suite or Salesforce's products for sales and marketing. 

Amazon got there first and sat at the top of the cloud computing mountain. "AWS invented this market." It is grown into a mammoth of business that has generated more than $12 billion in revenue in 2017 with the single goal in mind to give customers something better than what they have, which is less expensive and that is easier to use than what they have. Amazon lacks IBM's or Microsoft's enormous breadth and depth in the Enterprise software expertise, AWS is not doing so yet a full-fledged IaaS + PaaS + SaaS player. 

Power of incumbency"—taking the organisation's unique expertise in technology, customer relationships, vertical industries and leveraging it into the cloud. All the major cloud players are doing this—Microsoft with platforms and Office, SAP with applications, Oracle with databases, Salesforce with CRM, but IBM might be outdoing all the others by crafting an $8-billion-plus business in which it helps its biggest customers convert their legacy systems and applications into a private-cloud or cloud-compatible environments. By doing this, IBM has regained its position as a world-class and modern enterprise-IT Vendor that offers a "cloud plus" set of business value to customers - cloud plus Watson, cloud plus AI, and cloud plus cognitive computing.

Cloud is the key enabler of digital transformation. However, today most of the organisations are not clear that in a DX business model and the future of cloud in a digital transformation economy is Hybrid Cloud and Multi-Cloud architectures that will lead the way ahead for organisations to start building fully cloud-enabled services. According to IDC, "this is what the future of the cloud will bring; Enterprises will become the cloud service providers of innovation to their marketplace." 

The "Multi-Cloud" describes an environment which relies on "Multiple Clouds" such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM, or OpenStack. For example, you may be running a workload which requires large storage and networking resources on 'Private Cloud', such as OpenStack. At the same time, you may have a workload that requires you to scale up or down quickly on a 'Public Cloud,' like AWS or Microsoft Azure. Every workload is running on the ideal cloud environment.

The key driver for the businesses to adopt Multi-Cloud Environment is Unique Needs - run workloads with high performance and for a lower cost; Legacy Applications - To avoid the pain of migrating the legacy apps to a new platform; Diversify: To prevent vendor lock-in and latency while creating redundancy. Toyota's CIO Zack Hicks has embraced the Multi-Cloud Computing model to streamline their business and to provide their IT teams to focus on building new innovative technologies for their cars. Toyota uses various kinds of cloud apps:

1. Trading in Oracle's PeopleSoft for Workday's human-resources software

2. Uses Salesforce's Chatter for social media, including Web-development projects between employees, ad agencies, and other contractors

3. Uses Box, the online-storage service, to distribute executive reports, instead of email or printed reports 

4.Uses AWS to host most of its marketing websites, like Scion.com and Toyota's environmental-information website

5. Uses Microsoft Azure, to host a slew of new apps that run on cars, from Facebook to an app that awards you eco-points for miles driven in an electric vehicle

Hicks says. The cloud has turned cars into the next big "connected platform, with the awesome tech coming out in our vehicle." For example:

  • Semi-autonomous vehicles that can help the elderly get around
  • Steering wheels that "can measure your heartbeat, respiration, blood-sugar levels, and send it to a doctor."
  • Cars that can send an alert if a driver's health condition has become unsafe and needs medical help

All these developments were possible since Toyota decided not to make its IT people manage emails and leveraged the resources for creating innovative and world-class transformational technologies which will revolutionize the future of Automobile Industry. 

To summarize, Cloud is disrupting the traditional business model that will transform the way an organization has been doing business time immemorial. Moreover, with every change, there come new challenges. In my next article, I will be discussing in detail the Challenges and the Next-Gen Cloud Technology. 

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Rajashree Rao (Raj) is an Industry Thought Leader; Visionary for IoT/IIoT/Smart Cities, Digital Evangelist, Speaker, Writer, Mentor, and Entrepreneur. While Raj writes on a wide variety of subjects, her favorite topics are IoT Technologies, Digital Transformation, Leadership, Women's Empowerment, and 'Self.

Rajashree (Raj) has been in the industry for 17 years, having worked for SAP, Intel, and IBM managing diverse portfolios ranging from Consulting, Business Development, Sales to Large Enterprise Account Management, Channel Partner Management to Marketing & Communications. She has worked with Singapore Government & Public Sector accounts (incl. IMDA, LTA, A* Star, Mindef) on IoT, Smart Nation, and Smart Cities Initiatives.

Raj is a BCom Graduate (Hons.) from Jyothi Nivas College (Bangalore University) in Business Management and has a diploma in Computer Science - E-commerce. She enjoys international Travel & Nature, cooking, and is in the constant pursuit of the spiritual. She is also passionate about women’s empowerment and spends her free time working with women and women’s organization. She is a dedicated mentor who spends her time mentoring and coaching the young aspirants who come to her seeking guidance in their personal or professional life.

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