[Column] Joel Chacko: Harnessing the value of cloud by rethinking how new services are operated

As companies embark on their application and data modernisation programmes and look to the cloud and infrastructure required to support their plans, most land on a hybrid cloud strategy with application and data workloads balanced across both public and private clouds.

Hybrid deployments combine the hyper-scalers’ public cloud benefits of innovation, speed, consumption, and scale with private benefits of regulatory compliance, performance, data gravity, and recouping of existing investments.

Hybrid also enables increasingly dynamic workload placement over time, allowing them to optimise for performance, service levels, security and compliance, and cost. The downside to a hybrid deployment is managing and keeping track of multiple vendors and security across platforms. Inherently, this requires expertise across different cloud platforms. Some argue that adopting a hybrid environment may require more complex IT management that could equate to higher overall costs. This is where Accenture is valued partner for our clients because we’re platform agnostic, we’re purely focused on the business outcomes of our clients.

In order to harness the value of cloud, a key part of any company’s cloud transformation requires rethinking of the operational model. Historically, companies managed their data centers and networks separately from the data,applications, and business services those data centers and networks supported. Today, this siloed approach is ineffective, and perhaps even harmful.

Accenture’s deep expertise in leading on SAP and other application migrations to Microsoft Azure means that clients can benefit from a more secure, scalable and agile operating environment that is more cost effective than standing up a new on-premises data centre. This will improve business processes and continuity, as well as free up resources to focus on achieving superior business outcomes.

Consider how much more complicated technology landscapes are becoming. As a result of digital decoupling and the adoption of microservices, applications are evolving to more complex patterns and topologies, increasingly requiring more dynamic underlying compute, storage, and networking infrastructure. Cloud native patterns and technologies are typically more ephemeral than traditional environments, where containers may last hours, minutes, or even seconds, compared to servers and virtual machines that may be in production for months or years.

The extreme is serverless computing, where functions are spun up on demand to execute service and are torn down immediately upon completion. Not only are these environments more ephemeral, but they increasingly scale up and down more rapidly as Kubernetes controllers orchestrate their deployments.

 At the same time business users are far more focused on outcomes than the underlying applications, data and infrastructure that enable them. The boundaries between the services delivered to customers or the business, and the applications, data and infrastructure that deliver them are blurring. Consequently, it is critical to manage “services” and technologies more seamlessly. To effectively manage and optimize this increasingly complex landscape, enterprises need to rethink how they construct and operate new services to improve innovation and agility, enhance service levels, streamline operations, and minimize costs while seamlessly managing the applications, cloud, and infrastructure that deliver these services.

We refer to this as “Build Different/ Run Different.” To effectively operate in the New, companies should: Standardise: In order to take advantage of new capabilities and drive operational efficiencies in a hybrid cloud, it’s important to standardise services and the underlying infrastructure that supports them.

 This includes not only aligning the organisation around an enterprise-wide IT services catalog, but also standardising hardware and platforms to allow for increased automation. Create an agile cloud operating model: Dual velocity application delivery is critical. That means supporting the agile delivery of cloud-native applications while maintaining legacy code bases that are increasingly exposed through microservices.

This operating model should also deliver on the promise of DevSecOps by tightly aligning and integrating cloud, infrastructure, security, and operational requirements. Upskill organisation and transform culture: New application patterns, technologies, and operating models require new skills. This includes not only upskilling developers, but also transforming “eyes on glass” operators into developers who write data ingestion scripts, create analytics algorithms and visualisations, develop automation scripts, and tune AI engines.

Use hyper-automation and applied intelligence: Companies should be investing in platforms and tools that deliver the hyper-automation needed to drive agility, streamline operations, and minimise cost. Such hyperautomated intelligent operations – sometimes referred to as AIOps – leverage analytics to drive predictive operations, automation to eradicate unnecessary tasks, and AI to continually optimise environments.

 To effectively deploy and manage the next-generation of IT services, enterprise strategies must be application and data led, cloud and infrastructure enabled, secure, and optimised for the operational run. For these reasons, a hybrid application and data placement will be the natural choice for most large enterprises. Accenture has strong technical knowledge and capabilities, robust partner ecosystem, local expertise and its deep experience implementing large-scale cloud migrations.

 We have worked on more than 21,000 cloud computing projects for clients, with 80 percent of the Fortune Global 100, and have more than 77,000 professionals trained on cloud technologies and architectures, and more than 50,000 SAP professionals. Accenture has been innovating n cloud technology for nearly a decade and holds more than 300 granted patents and pending applications across its global cloud portfolio.

Joel Chacko is Associate Director for Accenture Microsoft Business Group in Africa