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The cloud is essential for innovation – but it must be run differently

Function as a Service Capabilities

The cloud has changed. Ten years ago, it was all about cost. The benefits were clear: your IT team could access resources as required – provisioning some storage here, spinning up a VM there – and only pay for what they used. The cloud was a commodity play: a way of accessing Infrastructure as a Service quickly and cheaply.

Today, the promise of the cloud is much more. New, Platform as a Service and Function as a Service capabilities mean the cloud is now synonymous with innovation. As organizations pivot to the new, recenter around their customers and launch new partner ecosystems, the cloud is there to offer everything they need.

Developers in enterprises can now instantly access everything from serverless databases, key management system, AI Services for image recognition, speech-to-text translation and IoT analytics via cloud platform services. Whatever components businesses need to increase agility and meet the imperatives of disruption, the cloud can deliver – but only if it’s run in the right way.

The cloud management dilemma

What we’re finding, however, is that many organizations are struggling to realize the full promise of the cloud. IT procurement teams, which are used to buying cycles of 3-5 years, have struggled to keep pace with developments in the cloud market, where new platform services are launched on an almost weekly basis. These enterprises are therefore unable to leverage the new, innovation-centric cloud services that will fuel disruptive change.

My view is that our new age of the cloud demands a new approach to cloud management and optimization. If organizations want to maximize the innovation potential of the cloud, they must completely rethink how their run their cloud estates. Those that fail to do so risk leaving money on the table and, more importantly, hamstringing their innovation capabilities.

Based on our own experience of moving to a cloud-first strategy (around 90 percent of Accenture’s systems are now cloud-based) along with the knowledge we’ve gained from more than 20,000 client cloud projects, we’ve developed a framework to help businesses change how they manage, optimize, and consume cloud services. The four-pillar framework will help firms realize the innovation benefits of the cloud platform services and as a result they will also see the costs associated with managing their cloud estate plummet:

  1. Run the cloud more efficiently

Organizations need to deploy Cloud Management Services to maintain existing applications and services and support changes to the environment. Significantly, Cloud Management Services must be adaptable to two types of operations: Mode 1, where users have complete control of the estate, which is predictable and stable and Mode 2 where users require agility, ease of use, unencumbered scalability, and full autonomy. To accommodate both user groups, enterprises must undertake a complete redesign of the process and platform that supports the company’s infrastructure.

Changes in a company’s talent base also are needed. As cloud platform services become dominant, organizations need to ensure their workers learn how to maintain the building blocks of cloud-based applications to maximize the value the company gets from the cloud.

  1. Continually optimize the environment

To ensure they can continually unlock maximum value from their cloud estate, organizations should deploy Cloud Optimization Services to adjust how much they consume, how they buy, and how they use the steady stream of innovations hyperscale providers roll out. Companies can now fine-tune consumption levels to eliminate all waste; while the myriad of buying choices available on the cloud, such as pre-purchasing and discounted ‘spot buys’ enable companies to get the most bang for their buck. Finally, innovation itself can be optimized: firms can access the very latest developments – from AI microservices to serverless databases – as-a-Service the moment they become available; increasing agility and reducing cost.

  1. Buy and use with insight

Unlike in the legacy on-premise world, buying capacity and services from the cloud is an ongoing process. If not managed correctly, costs can easily spiral out of control. Exacerbating this challenge is the cloud billing processes which sees some businesses receive invoices running to hundreds of thousands of individual line items, if not millions. To understand what’s been bought, by whom and why can be a punishing task. Cloud Consumption Services can help organizations keep on top of this challenge and navigate the complex operational support ecosystem of the hyperscalers in order to quickly resolve issues that impact the business.

  1. Manage the technology estate

The increasing complexity of an enterprise cloud estate means that Cloud Management Platforms are fast becoming indispensable. A robust cloud management platform provides a single control plane that enables companies to effectively manage their entire technology estate—across all major public cloud providers, private cloud technologies, and legacy systems. Cloud management platforms provide the capabilities required by both ‘Mode 1’ and ‘Mode 2’ users (see above), support optimization services and helps organizations manage consumption. Most importantly, Cloud Management Platforms provide the mechanism by which enterprises can keep pace with cloud evolution and quickly implement hyperscale innovations to meet their evolving business needs.

Run differently and reap the rewards

Innovation is central to modern business success. It’s the driver behind the new customer and employee experiences required to thrive in the age of digital disruption. What’s now clear is that the cloud and innovation are, for all intents and purposes, the same thing. Organizations that can adapt cloud platform services effectively will be able to innovate faster and at a lower cost. But this requires that the cloud is run differently.

By combining cloud managed services, cloud optimization services and cloud consumption services, organizations can dramatically reduce the cost of their cloud estate and the cost of managing their cloud environment. More importantly, this new framework will help firms move to consumption-based models that will help transform IT into an agile, ‘as-a-Service’ business enabler that delivers the advanced tools organizations need to innovate and thrive.

By Tristan Morel L’Horset, Managing Director, North America Cloud and Infrastructure Managed Services, Accenture

Tristan Morel L Horset

Tristan is the Managing Director, North America Cloud and Infrastructure Managed Services, Accenture.

Tristan has 20+ years’ experience helping clients maximize the business value of their Cloud and Infrastructure investments. Tristan leverages his industry expertise, and technology capabilities and innovation to help optimize his clients’ digital journey.

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