We’re all familiar with stories of startups using cloud to innovate and disrupt established industries. Now established businesses, too, are using cloud to disrupt the disruptors, innovating for competitive advantage. They’re taking advantage of cloud’s agility and flexibility to accelerate digital transformation initiatives.
For example, Ford Motor Company is creating a flexible, agile and cost-effective hybrid cloud environment, based on technology from VMware and Dell, to accelerate software development.
Similarly, Hive is innovating and disrupting the world of energy efficiency with its range of smart-home products and services. The company is owned by energy and services multinational Centrica (which also owns British Gas, the UK’s leading energy supplier). Hive’s portfolio of web-enabled lighting, security cameras, motion sensors and plugs is used by more than a million customers. The company has expanded globally into Italy, France and the US, and plans to increase its customer base to five million in the next few years.
With such business growth plans, the ability for Hive to scale is crucial. However, Hive isn’t only intent on growing its customer base; the company wants to use cloud analytics to understand consumer habits and use those insights to drive more innovation.
For startups, being first to market is key to being competitive. For established players, getting reliable innovations out to customers faster than startups and other traditional competitors is key. For both, that means doing all they can to enable developers to do their magic as efficiently as possible.
“Our challenges aren’t about finding enough money to do a project or the time; it’s the speed it takes to do that and to get the right people in the right roles to make the decisions,” explains Aaron Rajda, director of EMEA and Staffs IT at Ford Motor Company. “Digital transformation is about speed and being able to operate quickly.”
Due to its scalability and flexibility benefits, it’s no surprise that Ford, Hive, and a number of businesses rely on cloud to help accelerate positive business outcomes. But not just a public or a private cloud. Today’s disruptive innovators rely on a multi-cloud infrastructure that combines public, private and hybrid clouds. A full 74 percent of enterprises describe their strategy as hybrid/multi-cloud today while the average number of private and public clouds used by companies to run applications and test out new services is 4.81.
“We see ourselves operating in a hybrid mode going forward,” says Ford Motor Company CIO Jeff Lemmer. “There are going to be workloads that we’re running in public clouds as well as workloads in our private clouds. We know we’re going to have to go through a change to interact differently with our development teams to be able to move at a much faster rate.”
In addition to scale, Hive relies on cloud to overcome the challenges of software persistence and stability, explains Hive Head of Operations, Christopher Livermore. “As a customer of Hive or any technology product, you have some expectations of that technology provider around security and reliability,” he adds. Hive uses the VMware Wavefront cloud-native monitoring software for real-time granular insights into customer usage so that Hive can be more responsive to users’ needs.
“We want our developers to be as close as possible to living and breathing, feeling and understanding the customer experience,” Livermore says.
While a multi-cloud strategy lets you quickly flex capacity when you need it, there are a number of management considerations. Analysts point to the challenges of managing the different cost structures of multiple vendors as well staying on top of the different ways in which vendors2 manage resources and security.
This is why it’s important to follow a cloud management strategy that gives you the cloud agility you need without loss of control. With consistent cloud management, you can define a large array of policies for the business all at once, rather than on a case-by-case basis. Like a self-driving car, applications and workloads run independently over any cloud without the need for hands-on supervision. Everything is automated so that you can focus on improving the customer experience rather than managing the cloud.
A consistent cloud operations and management infrastructure creates a common operating environment so that your developers can create any type of application, deploy it to any cloud, and deliver it to any device.
Technologies such as micro-services, containers and functions-as-a-service help to liberate the application development process by freeing the app from the underlying infrastructure. (Read more in our Radius article.)
“This is a great time to be software engineers,” says Sajai Krishnan, VMware vice president, cloud management. “Far from investing time in building infrastructure and dealing with other development environment vagaries, engineers are using standardised APIs and a multitude of ready-to-use services to deliver solutions that directly benefit customers. And they’re able to do this by standing on the shoulders of giants—giant platforms, that is.”
A consistent cloud operating environment allows IT organisations to achieve the following:
Businesses are past the stage of questioning if clouds are secure enough for mission-critical applications. The question now is, how will you manage your multi-cloud strategy so that you give your developers the freedom and speed to create the next business-defining app. ▪