Cloud Continuum is the next level of leveraging the benefits of the Cloud. Migration to the Cloud has been an ongoing activity for a long time now, gaining further impetus as a direct result of the pandemic. In a report that examined various indicators in growth based on Cloud adoption to assess market opportunities, Gartner divided the market into four main Cloud categories. These were system infrastructure, infrastructure software, application software, and business process outsourcing. They found that the largest IT spend of 36% has been on companies moving the hosting of their software into the Cloud. Application software, the report says, will continue to be in focus through the current year.
Earlier, Cloud was a reference to public clouds that worked in tandem with shared data centers. With time, businesses began to use a combination of public, private, and edge-based clouds. These combinations were need-specific. Globally, in 2020, the hybrid cloud market size was pegged at $52 billion. This is expected to touch $145 billion by 2026. Flexera’s 2020 State of the Cloud report says that of the 90% of organizations using the Cloud, 87% took up the hybrid model.
So what is the downside? Accenture surveyed around 750 senior business and IT professionals across several enterprises spanning 11 industries and 17 countries for their 2020 report Sky High Hopes: Navigating the Barriers to Maximizing Cloud Value. This was a follow-up to their 2018 report. Only 45% of these business and IT leaders felt that they were satisfied with the benefits accrued from the Cloud. This was just a one percent increase over 2018. 46% of those who invested heavily in the cloud felt they were getting the full benefit compared to 36% of moderate adopters and 28% of low adopters. With hybrid clouds, in particular, there was no assurance enough that business benefits of innovation, data usage and best practices were found across the company. Most of these advantages were restricted to departmental silos, bringing down the value of the cloud.
Today, the Cloud has evolved and is no longer a static technology that functions in a silo. Instead, it has become a dynamic continuum of capabilities and features and this is called Cloud Continuum.
What is Cloud Continuum?
Cloud Continuum refers to the seamless integration of multiple cloud capabilities and services. This is inclusive of data centers, private, public, hybrid and multi-clouds. The Cloud Continuum comprises several capabilities and a wide range of services, including public, edge and everything in between. Everything integrates together seamlessly via cloud-first networks. These networks are supported by high-end Cloud Continuum standards. Additionally, the Cloud Continuum’s assorted technologies will have varied ownership and location. These can be located close to the organization or be completely off-premise.
These capabilities are unified and backed by advanced levels of connectivity like 5G and software-defined-networks (SDNs). Such connectivity ensures cloud accessibility from anywhere. It also removes silos between services, from public to edge.
For all forms of organizations, using the Continuum via Cloud and related technologies can result in several benefits including getting to the market faster and quicker growth with cross- and up- selling.
Here is a look at the technologies that Cloud Continuum includes:
- As-a-service technologies of service, platform and infrastructure
- Hybrid and multi-cloud
- Server-less computing
Artificial Intelligence and Automation
- Augmented and virtual reality
- Machine and Deep Learning
- Cyber threat intelligence
- Endpoint protection and response
- Security information and event management (SIEM)
Data Analysis in Real Time
- Analysis of Big Data
- Storage lakes
Internet of Things
- Edge computing
- Digital twins
Working with Cloud Continuum and its Benefits
Companies that work in a Cloud Continuum are called Continuum Competitors. Not only are they harnessing the power of the Cloud, but they are doing so seamlessly, where there are no siloes. Such continuous engagement is transformational to the way businesses operate with their clients, vendors, employees and anyone they partner with. In short, Cloud Continuum can help businesses reimagine the way they function.
Benefits of working with Cloud Continuum
- With Cloud Continuum businesses create a strong platform on which to base their future innovations and reinventions.
- Cloud Continuum helps businesses future-proof themselves, ensuring an agile foundation is ready to make quick innovations without an interruption in operations.
- Cloud Continuum ensures businesses make the most of their Cloud investment for two reasons – first, it helps them make the right choices of Cloud and related services. And secondly, there is an assurance that all the best practices needed to ensure smooth functioning are implemented.
- Cloud Continuum encourages businesses to constantly reimagine the way they work and service their clients. Their infrastructure is able to keep up with them at all times.
How Businesses can Harness Cloud Continuum to Their Benefit
Every business needs to make the right choice of Cloud services and tools to harness the ideal firepower in a competitive atmosphere. These choices should ensure that investment is not wasted and that adequate resources are available for smooth functioning. Cloud Continuum goes a step further and is about providing your business with a flexible platform to innovate at all times. Here is how a business can harness the full potential of the Cloud Continuum
Create a Clear Vision for Your Business
For a company to better harness the power of Cloud Continuum, it must:
- Have a clear vision for what it wants to achieve in the future, the most sustainable strategy to get there, and the ideal investment within which to achieve this.
- Build up a competitive ecosystem. Finding gaps in your supply and production chain, assessing weaknesses and potential dangers to workflow can all be addressed by the optimum use of Cloud Continuum, once you know how best to make it work for you.
- Set baselines for a range of activities across your organization. From skills and expertise to potential for up-skilling and more. Charting out a growth trajectory for your company is a great first step.
With these baselines in place, you can harness the strengths of the Cloud Continuum to realize your full business potential. With clear priorities in place, the many technologies of the continuum work in tandem to help you achieve it.
Develop a Technology-first Work Culture
Migration is just the first step to building a continuum. To build it into a sustainable cloud operation you need to ensure that you have a technology-driven team. The mindset has to change from the top down, percolating across the hierarchy. The aim is to ensure that a technology-first approach is in-built into the working culture of your organization. This approach helps with bringing in non-technology-based segments of your business into the fold.
Focus on Delivering Exceptional Experiences
As a business that wants to make the most of the continuum, focusing on creating exceptional experiences is key. Being able to reimagine work processes and output, and ensuring accessibility of the powers of the cloud to employees will help with creating competitive experiences. When work processes are data-based it eliminates tedious and repetitive tasks freeing up employees to innovate.
Combine Continuum Goals with Business Strategies
Top management must merge their continuum goals with business strategies to work their way towards success. The management must have company objectives in place, assess and draw up how much risk the company is willing to take. Additionally, fostering a culture of adapting to change can be key to unlocking success with Cloud Continuum. There are several challenges to setting such goals, both at the business strategy and continuum goals levels. These challenges may be related to prevailing mindset, the current intersection of business with technology, evaluation methods, etc. Any call to action must come from the top management. Every employee must be well versed and aware of all the Cloud capabilities that are at his disposal. Bringing diverse viewpoints to the table is important.
Maintain a Strong Cyber Security and Compliance Module
A business looking to maximize benefits from the Cloud Continuum will have to take on the shared responsibility of cloud security and not leave it entirely to the service provider. Managing data, classifying various data assets, controlling and maintaining access, and working on cloud configurations will have to be done in-house. All ancillary services may be handled by service providers. Finding and adopting the right framework for cyber security will require a clear understanding of the levels of authority across the company and business needs. For compliance, regulations have to be adhered to, on an industry and a local level.
Challenges of Implementing Cloud Continuum
The benefits of working as Continuum Competitors are plenty. However, it is not easy. The biggest challenge that companies continue to face is migration to the cloud. Here is a look at what prevents migration from happening smoothly.
Maintaining Smooth Operations During Migration: Especially when it comes to migrating a legacy business, ensuring a smooth flow of work can be a challenge. A company will need a well-versed hand in approaching migration in a fragmented manner to ensure little to no downtime during the process. This can be quite a challenge.
Retraining Employees: Besides the process of migration, retraining employees in the new system of the Cloud can be challenging. To make the most of the Cloud, employees need to be well versed in all that it offers and its potential to enhance work processes and execution. Meticulous training programs have to be initiated to ensure employees are acquainted with the system and are not overwhelmed by its capabilities.
Data Loss: A major obstacle to Cloud migration is data loss. The movement of data from on-premise centers to the Cloud can result in corruption, duplication, or complete loss of data. While there are no sure-shot ways of ensuring that this does not happen, planning data migration, with adequate safety measures and back-ups, can help reduce the dangers.
Complex Business Processes and Infrastructure: Several businesses have a wide footprint and a complex operational system, making migration to the Cloud difficult. Migration costs can end up being much higher than the immediate benefits. This can be a strong reason for companies to delay or stay away from migrating to the Cloud. Companies have to understand that Cloud Continuum is not a short-term investment. It may not seem feasible or worth it in the immediate forecast of a company but will make a world of difference going forward.
Miscommunication between Business and IT: There is often a disconnect between the business and technology sides of an organization. Companies are often faced with having too much or too little technology. This can mean additional expenses with no real benefits or not enough investment leading to inefficiency. Cloud Continuum has the power to ensure a full suite of scalable services that adapt to changing needs.
Best Practices for Cloud Continuum
Once you have completed the migration and get into the Cloud Continuum, here are some best practices to ensure your company receives all the benefits.
Set Continuous Goals: The Cloud can be triggered to constantly collect feedback. The waterfall approach (breaking processes into sequences that follow one another) can be applied to technology management. There is a continuous re-alignment that happens at every level with ongoing objectives. This ensures that major changes happen only rarely.
Use the Cloud as a Catalyst for Innovation: The Cloud functions in a way to provide organizations all the insights they need – derived from real-time data to enhance strategic decision-making and to find and work on newer opportunities. The idea is to constantly work towards creating and providing disruptive services. The Cloud has proven to be an innovation platform that accelerates the progress of a good idea, crucial to the resilience of processes, helps with infrastructure modernization, and provides increased agility. All this can give your business a boost.
Aim to Elevate Customer Experiences: The goal for any company is to provide the best customer experience. Providing your clients with Cloud-first apps can take your services to the next level. The cloud can be used as a default by developers’ to create the right apps. It will take some practice, but is a great way to ensure innovation in customer experiences.
Focus on Talent Development: When the Cloud is used to develop skills and transform talents, it will help with the efficient functioning of the business. Using the Cloud throughout the process of digital transformation of your organization can help address any gaps. The changes that result can help your company grow. This continual change becomes a part of Continuum practices.
Be Willing to Experiment: There are several services and alternatives that come with the Cloud. The onus is on organizations to experiment and find how best to utilize them. When a company works on improved customer experiences as a goal, constantly looking for Cloud-based methods to achieve this can result in processes that become a part of the Continuum for your business.
Cloud computing is the future. International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts that the global ‘whole cloud’ spending, including cloud services, the hardware and software need and all the components of the cloud – from manpower to managed services – will cross the $1.3 trillion mark by 2025 with a CAGR of 16.9%. Technology professionals will find that cloud computing is everywhere and companies will be working towards adopting a cloud-first approach.
Cloud computing will serve as a technological foundation for application delivery and a platform for building continuous processes for innovation, resilience, and sustainability. These approaches will come together to form a Cloud Continuum and transform the company into a Continuum Competitor.