Global technology giant IBM released the results of a study conducted in 2018 discussing the persistent patterns driving cloud adoption among enterprises today. The relevance of the cloud in business operations has been magnified by the current pandemic wherein organizations found themselves accelerating the digital transformation to ensure business continuity.
Lope Doromal, chief technology officer and client technical adviser, IBM Philippines, gave Back End News a rundown of the “Seven Persistent Patterns Driving Cloud Adoption,” plus an emerging pattern among businesses that may contribute to
- Extending the business value of cloud across the entire enterprise
Citing a study by IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), a business research organization that focuses on managerial and economic issues faced by companies and governments around the world, Doromal said 64% of the 3,800 global executives surveyed expressed the willingness to move to cloud-based business operations.
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Years ago, the cloud is a platform for innovation. But even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, organizations are encouraged to migrate, at least a part of, their businesses to the cloud. Today, it has become the foundation of operations not just in businesses but in different types of organizations, as well.
- Balancing the old with the new
Doromal explained companies don’t have to eliminate legacy infrastructures not only because of the significant investments poured into them but also because some core operations could still run smoothly on those systems or that certain regulations may be preventing them from migrating completely to the cloud environment.
“What we are saying here is organizations need to start looking at building a roadmap for their whole IT system,” Doromal said. “They have to have a checklist including what is the plan, which applications will be moved or which applications will retain as new applications are added.”
Doromal underscores the need for enterprises to have that playbook to help them in their cloud journey and build a more agile business operating system.
- Modernizing mainframes and data centers
Doromal said many companies are finding the value, and sometimes ease of use, of the cloud. The large cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Google, or IBM Cloud offer services that could streamline the processes of enterprise operations.
“We are seeing now many companies that are starting to modernize their data centers so that they can avail of different IT services,” Doromal said, “the same way that they would avail of IT services from a public cloud provider later, which are on-demand and/or self-service. They will charge their business units based on the actual amount of computing resources that they use, and so on.”
Mainframe gained the perception of “very traditional or old.” This is a legacy application that has proved itself especially in terms of processing a large amount of data. However, cloud may have eclipsed it a bit in terms of popularity among maisntream business operations.
“While this is considered to be a legacy application, what not many people are aware of is that the more modern mainframes that have been released, maybe in the past four to five years, has actually been optimized to run Linux workload,” Doromal explained. “Which means it is a very good platform to run some of the cloud-native or cloud-optimized type of applications. And of course, you get the benefit of all of the security, scalability, that a mainframe provides so we’re also now starting to see clients use the mainframe to run some of their cloud-native applications.”
- Coping with compliance requirements
Concerns in data security contribute to the cloud adoption hesitancy among organizations. But the speed of digital transformation, not only because of the pandemic but also because it is now the way to go help change the way some people see security and cloud.
“What we are seeing nowadays is organizations are starting to realize that the appropriate way to look at security,” Doromal said. “With regards to cloud, and in fact, not just cloud but also to any IT project, is companies are focused more on what they need to comply with and not look for something that will guarantee you 100% security because no such thing exists. Whether you are on-prem or you are on the cloud, there will always be a certain level of risks.”
With General Data Protection Regulation in Europe and the Data Privacy Act in the Philippines and countries in Southeast Asia crafting their own privacy laws, companies are looking at layers upon layers of compliance on data security.
IBM acquired Spanugo, a company providing Cybersecurity Posture Assurance for the enterprise hybrid cloud, specifically to enhance IBM’s capabilities to help clients comply with these regulations, whether it’s on the cloud or on traditional infrastructure.”
- Implementing Site Reliability Engineering and similar practices
“The idea behind SRE (Site Reliability Engineering) is the sort of making the analogy of what you get when you let software engineers, or software developers, manage and operate IT system,” Doromal said. “That traditional way of managing IT systems is manual. The problem with this model is as the number of servers and the number of environments that you’re managing increases, then the ability to be consistent in what you are doing, across these different environments, also becomes more difficult.”
SRE minimizes the manual activities because actions or commands, for example, written scrips, are already preprogrammed. The exact steps used to set up the first environment will be used to set up the second, third, or fourth environment. It means that repetitive tasks can are programmed so as not to require manual system.
“Site Reliability Engineering is all about applying more of the software engineering practices to making IT operations more reliable,” Doromal said.
- Improving the experience of the cloud service user
Using the cloud removes the complexities of other platforms or hardware. In fact, Doromal said, self-service has always been a big part of the cloud. The almost instant availability of services sometimes is a dealbraker as the more traditional way take quite sometime as it goes through the process of procurement, approval, and delivery add to that the time to set it up.
“The early implementations of cloud probably are more geared toward a technical user,” Doromal said. “A pattern we are seeing now is that more and more of these cloud providers, IBM included, are starting to realize there are many users who are not necessarily technical. So the experience is now being improved so that even if they are not very technical in terms of IT systems, they can still manage and do some service in accessing some of these cloud services.”
- Navigating the skills precipice
Different cloud providers may have different designs so the skillsets need to be also diverse. Doromal said organizations sometimes have to wrestle on the decision of retraining existing assets or hire new people to use the newer technologies.
“IBM recognizes that this is a significant challenge for many of our clients,” Doromal said. “What we have been doing in the past few years is we have actually been building our teams internally in IBM to support multiple clouds, not necessarily just IBM cloud. The idea is if we have a client who wants to adopt some of these cloud technologies but they do not have the skills internally, or it will take time to retrain the people for them, then, as IBM we can go in there, bring in certified consultants who are familiar with these environments to help the clients, either on a continuous basis or until such time comes when they can run it on their own.”
Asked whether IBM is seeing an emerging set of patterns brought about by the pandemic, Doromal said industry-specific clouds may become part of the way of doing things using the cloud. It is not necessarily customized per organization but there are specific features and services that companies can use to optimize their operations.
“IBM recently came up with two of top industry clouds — BM Cloud for Financial Services and IBM Cloud for Telecommunications — which still uses the traditional public cloud,” Doromal said.
The difference is IBM designed it with a unique focus on the regulatory framework specific to that particular industry within the cloud itself.
“We are doing it not only for the infrastructure and the services that IBM manages but we are also bringing in third parties to offer their services within this cloud,” Doromal said. “And we will work to make sure that these third parties also comply with the regulatory requirements for that industry.”