When It Comes to the Cloud, Businesses Need to Think Bigger

By Ajay Patel, Senior Vice President, Product Development, Cloud Services, VMware 

When a certain major sports league set out to optimize their TV advertising revenue, they knew it wouldn’t be easy. They needed to calculate which teams played each other on which nights, and in which cities, against an array of market demographics so complex that it would make even the most jaded data scientist’s head spin.

So they developed an algorithm and built a small computer farm to crunch the numbers. The problem is, despite running the algorithm on dedicated hardware it still took two months to completely process the data.

But an enterprising IT leader had a better idea.

He realized that his organization could gain much faster results—and thereby sell more precisely targeted ads—by greatly expanding their processing power by leveraging the cloud.

Once the sports league augmented their algorithm processing with the vast compute capacities of VMware vCloud Air, they were able to run five complete iterations simultaneously in just two hours. The big data that once took months to process could now be translated into actionable business results in a fraction of the time. Best of all, the migration significantly increased advertising revenue as predicted, virtually overnight.

I love hearing success stories like that from our customers. But even this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the business potential of the cloud—a potential that too many companies ignore.

Embrace a Broader Vision

I meet with hundreds of customers each year, and I consistently hear five use cases where the public cloud can benefit their businesses:

  1. Application Development & Testing
  2. Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery
  3. Run Cloud-Hosted Desktops
  4. Extend Business-critical Applications
  5. Build and Run Modern Web & Mobile Applications

Despite everyone knowing that enterprises stand a lot to gain by embracing the benefits of the cloud, I still encounter organizations every day whose only knowledge of cloud computing is that it can help them in one or two of these areas.

To my mind, that’s a lot like deciding to trade in your old horse-and-cart system for a brand-new car…and then keeping your horse so it can pull your car along behind it instead of the cart. Other cars are zipping past you, weaving in and out of traffic, and you’re not sure why you can’t keep up.

Remake Your IT in the Image of the Cloud

In my experience, the chance to lead a genuine business revolution doesn’t come along often, and yet that’s precisely what I see as a possibility for so many of our customers.

If you’re entrenched in a legacy infrastructure, with critical business functions wedded into every aspect of a system, it’s understandable that you’d want to experiment with cloud solutions slowly, shifting specific aspects of your operations into a cloud environment in piecemeal fashion, bit by bit. But I’d invite you to imagine, for a moment, the difference between that tentative hybrid approach and actually striving to refashion your business—across the board—in the image of the cloud.

In the UK, a major grocery chain has been pioneering the integration between retail and ecommerce through agile dev/test work on their web and mobile apps in VMware vCloud Air. Here in the Bay Area, a cancer research lab has tremendously accelerated their R&D cycles through high-performance cloud computing, while a ballet company’s customer records and ticket processing system have entered a new era of resiliency by leaving the failure-prone confines of their old data center behind.

If greater agility, management, processing power, storage, cost savings, and resiliency sound attractive to you, then imagine your IT infrastructure—and the business operations it drives—gaining a significant infusion of all of those qualities at once.

Dream Bigger, Act Bolder

Innovative startups are cropping up daily with a cloud-first vision for their lives—their shiny, speedy new cars careening through San Francisco with carefree abandon. But through technologies such as VMware vCloud Air that level of holistic, all-embracing cloud-based IT is now available for the masses, giving everyone the chance to streamline existing business practices and future-proof themselves for innovations not yet foreseen.

You really can leave your old cart and horse behind, if you dream big enough. That new car you’ve been eyeing really does perform well on its own, and can handle pretty much anything you throw at it. I’m not saying it’ll be smooth and simple, or that such radical changes can happen overnight. I’m saying that if you don’t at least consider the full potential of the cloud, envisioning what you might achieve with such a tool, you’ll be missing a unique opportunity to make a lasting difference in your enterprise.