The long-awaited digital revolution has gained a major boost through the Covid-19 lockdown, speeding up the adoption of cloud services as companies turn their businesses virtual.
Companies have fast-tracked the migration of their business processes to the cloud to allow employees to work at home, far from their previously centralised infrastructure.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) have both seen a tremendous uptick in adoption rates as customers also seek the benefits of scale and flexibility.
“Businesses enter the cloud for a variety of reasons,” said Gerald Pfeifer, the chief technology officer of SUSE’s Europe, Middle East & Africa region, during an online roundtable sponsored by SUSE (watch the roundtable above).
“In our case, it was because our Q&A guys needed the elasticity and scale the cloud provides. For others, it’s all about Web services — each organisation will make a decision based on what is most critical for them.”
It was imperative for all organisations to innovate and respond to changing market needs, and the cloud enabled that, said Ömer Koç, Microsoft’s strategic partnerships leader in the Middle East and Africa. In fact, the current top priority for CIOs was to digitise their business to take advantage of the cloud.
“The average lifespan of a Fortune 500 company has gone from 70 years to 15 years, as those who fail to innovate and adapt to customer demands are being left behind. The business world is changing rapidly around us, and technology is an enabler to these changes,” Koç said.
Commodity for hire
The cloud was powering that by reducing or entirely eliminating previous barriers to entry, including hefty capital expenses for infrastructure. The cloud had turned hardware into a commodity for hire, democratising and dramatically lowering the costs of sustaining a business.
Koç described the digital transformation as a critical but invisible revolution. We had become a mobile society, with instant, always-on access to networking capabilities that delivered rich content in real-time and in a cost-effective manner.
The spin-off from that was an abundance of application development, giving consumers the ability to choose how they communicate, learn, entertain themselves and manage their lives. For businesses, the plethora of apps and cloud-based technologies changes how they interact with customers, manage their operations, control costs and build their products.
The fourth Industrial Revolution was no different from the previous three, Koç said, in that changing technologies were fundamentally disrupting the economic landscape by creating new possibilities for economic, social and technological innovations.
But this one is gaining traction far faster than previous revolutions. “Technological changes are happening more and more rapidly, and the window of time that companies have to adapt is shrinking significantly, too. The principle of ‘adapt or get left behind’ should be always top of mind,” Koç said.
The fourth Industrial Revolution is driven by the rise of big data, the growth of the cloud, and new, intelligent capabilities. Small, inexpensive processors had moved from computers, tablets and phones into connected devices that are ubiquitous and constantly create, collect and make sense of data. It’s disrupting almost every industry by transforming our systems of production, management and governance.
Data has become an organisation’s key strategic asset, and combining that with the cloud and intelligent analytics creates opportunities to automate, innovate and increase the speed of business.
Participants in the roundtable heard that cloud adoption was reaching a ferocious pace, for three main reasons. One is its speed, with server procurement and provisioning happening within minutes, instead of days or weeks, which dramatically accelerated the pace of innovation. Next, the cloud offered an almost infinite set of computing resources. Businesses can easily scale up and down their environments, depending on their demand and their peak times, so they never have to worry about running out of capacity or being over-provisioned.
The third pillar is economics, as businesses only pay for what they need. While an on-premise solution can theoretically handle big data management and analytics, the necessary infrastructure is hugely expensive and a highly inefficient use of resources.
Moving to the cloud slashes the capex and switches it to opex, freeing up cash that would otherwise be needed for infrastructure investments. “This capital can be put to other uses and can be repurposed within the organisation, where technology can offer more incremental value,” Koç said.
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