In the tech field we are constantly told to move fast or be left behind. This is logical and often good advice. But there are also times when it pays to stand back, draw breath, and learn from others’ experiences. Amid the global race to the cloud, many organizations in India have done just that and as a result strengthened their position. You might think of it as a case of “last mover advantage”. This ‘wait and learn’ approach has set even the most traditional organizations up to reap the rewards of a long-term hybrid multi-cloud strategy.
Cloud adoption is a key component of digital transformation. But a common misconception globally has been that “cloud” equates to the public cloud. As many leaders in the US and Europe who abandoned their data centers and rushed to it with an ‘all-or-nothing’ mindset have since found, it isn’t that simple — and it pays to avoid becoming locked into a single solution. Regulatory, cost and operational concerns are now prompting a rethink. Organizations are realizing that they want friction-free operations in the cloud, so they have time to innovate and focus on business outcomes instead of on cloud management.
In India, meanwhile, businesses that have been more cautious with their implementations now stand to benefit from increased choice as more cloud players enter the market, and are in a good negotiating position from a pricing standpoint. These businesses are achieving cloud environments without compromising on choice, and without feeling locked-in with one-sided, vendor-led contracts.
A ‘best of both worlds’ strategy
Strategically and operationally, the focus should be on achieving balance. A balanced hybrid multi-cloud strategy starts with clarity on business objectives- determining which parts of the business would be best served in public or private clouds. IDC has described this as a “‘best of both worlds’ deployment strategy” and already sees multi-cloud strategies becoming “the enterprise norm”.
For startups with no IT legacy, this is relatively straightforward. For organizations with on-premise data centers and a multitude of applications and varied workloads, however, adoption requires an incremental approach. To put things in context, one American multinational investment bank operates almost 3,900 applications, which it is unable to migrate to the cloud. On the other hand, Indian banks like RBL and NKGSB, have in place a fluid hybrid multi-cloud architecture, which is helping them to scale up operations and handle jumps in call-center volumes during busy periods.
For many, the first step is to get their IT house in order, shifting thinking from established processes to organizational goals and dismantling siloes. Once the basis and mindset are in place, it’s a case of generating quick wins that cumulatively lead to long-term success: for example, reducing the amount of time it takes to enable data processing.
Using cloud for meaningful business impact
An initial motivation for historically conservative sectors such as financial services to adopt a hybrid multi-cloud approach has of course been to ride out the pandemic. They needed added flexibility to enable practices like remote working. Today, their actions suggest intent beyond the immediate crisis.
Other sectors increasingly moving in this direction include manufacturing, healthcare and public services, which are catering to their customer/user needs for digital services, telehealth and remote work capabilities. Already, leading organizations in healthcare like Max Healthcare and Sakra World Hospital, and in manufacturing like Hero MotorCorp and Wheels India, are using a hybrid multi-cloud architecture to realize new opportunities through innovation and meet the needs of their patients and customers respectively.
Reduced financial and time expenditure is another major draw. With hybrid multi-cloud, staff whose time was previously spent on routine procedures are able to contribute more to the business, which addresses the acute IT skills shortage. Compressed maintenance time means more up-time for applications, plugging revenue that would otherwise be lost. And the ability to know exactly how long it will take to get things up and running again after a crisis adds peace of mind.
Despite the obvious benefits, meaningful change is never as easy as it might at first look. It’s important to remember that whatever cloud you’re using, it remains a tool rather than a destination, and striking the right balance for your organization will require some experimentation. Cloud is customizable to each enterprise, as it does not involve just a singular entity but instead an ecosystem of IT administrators, skills, processes and policies, vendors, partners and solutions.
As confidence grows, we can expect to see industry verticals create their own cloud systems. This might involve a group of manufacturing companies joining hands, with government support, to create a system optimized for their collective needs. Or it might be that companies take it upon themselves to create their own clouds. Either way, cloud is here to stay.
The key for businesses is to build a hybrid multi-cloud strategy that meets their needs and enables them to innovate and grow more efficiently – Build Their Clouds, on Their Terms.
(The author is Director & Head of Systems Engineering, Nutanix India & SAARC and the views expressed in this article are his own)