By Jack Sepple
More and more organizations rely increasingly on the cloud. Corporations ranging from Internet startups to established companies such as Daimler and John Deere use cloud to connect business processes, information and devices, thereby increasing the value of each customer experience.
These companies no longer view only technology as a service. They view everything as a service, and are maneuvering more and more rapidly on an increasingly larger scale.
But the reality is that many enterprises are still not getting everything they need from the cloud. For most companies in most industries, the cloud has created nearly as many complications as it has solutions, and they must contend with managing a jumble of separate cloud accounts.
In addition to the plethora of accounts, there are private clouds, public clouds and hybrid clouds. And they’re all operating next to legacy mainframes, distributed computing and virtual computing environments.
Few IT leadership teams can say for sure what their organizations spends on the cloud—or why. Much of that spending is outside the control of IT, authorized instead by business teams (shadow IT).
Another problem is the lack of truly automated processes to move application workloads among varied instances of the cloud. Business and IT leaders struggle to cope with the multiple security and privacy issues that complicate cloud computing. In effect, IT is confronting a profusion of tools that excel at the tasks for which they were designed, but these tools do not readily work together.
Generating Business Value From the Cloud
So now is a good time for business and IT leaders to think about how business value is generated from cloud technologies—particularly from the hybrid cloud. Dealing with multiple clouds and multiple vendors is the reality for most companies, but an effective hybrid cloud strategy means more than just consuming multiple clouds.
CIOs do not want to be locked into working with specific cloud vendors. What they need are solutions that can be easily integrated with their existing architecture, giving them the ability to move enterprise workloads around in a seamless, automated fashion.
The good news is that this vision—of the cloud as a flexible, value-creating platform—is materializing quickly. Advanced pilot implementations of clouds that combine agility and economics with enterprise-grade reliability are surfacing everywhere.
This evolving version of the cloud is called an “intelligent business cloud,” which is focused on business outcomes and on connecting all the capabilities an organization needs to become an intelligent digital business. These capabilities include infrastructure, applications, data and business processes.
This means that applications can anticipate and adjust to circumstances and context; data can be protected and presented based on permissions and business process rules; and infrastructure is consumed as a service, on demand.
The following three key features distinguish the intelligent business cloud:
1. It uses an analytics-based, policy-driven approach. This provides high levels of agility so organizations can put the right workloads into the right places. Enterprises can optimize their IT assets for performance, price and business continuity, reducing the high cost and manual processes of moving workloads. The intelligent business cloud also spans multiple clouds and multiple platforms, letting companies run any application in the cloud.
2. It helps ensure portability between private and public clouds. In the intelligent business cloud, the entire cloud-based IT estate is run from a single control dashboard. This simplifies migration from legacy environments and puts the right workloads in the right places.
3. It provides enterprise-grade hybrid cloud management capabilities. The intelligent business cloud ensures that proper security procedures and standards are applied consistently across all cloud resources and that cloud solutions are fully auditable. Auto-discovery makes it much easier to track and inventory all cloud workloads across the enterprise, and a central dashboard provides a common view of all private and public cloud workloads.
The intelligent business cloud can open new competitive possibilities and connect the capabilities your business needs for high performance in a digital world. Far-sighted companies are taking the conversation about the cloud to new levels, recognizing that they need to act now to realize its full potential.
IT and business leaders are already working to implement components of the intelligent business cloud in order to generate the greatest returns. This next generation of clouds is coming—in every industry—and the time to prepare for it is now.
Jack Sepple is senior managing director, cloud and group technology officer at Accenture Operations.