The Stack Archive

Cloud adoption means a ‘whole new business model’ – and that’s a good thing

Mon 2 Nov 2015

“One of the key imperatives around digital,” says Tobias Regenfuß, Munich-based Managing Director at Accenture for Infrastructure Services in Austria, Switzerland and Germany, “is to increase the number of touch points with your customers, use analytics to transform products and services and finally to develop completely new business models. Such touch-points can leverage social-media based interactions, data from mobile devices or from other sensors in the home, the vehicle, the public space or the work environment. Cloud is a key enabler for this new world.”

Regenfuß is a genuine cloud visionary and enthusiast in his ‘transformative’ role at Accenture, which empowers business with cloud-based technologies, modernised infrastructures, and cybersecurity solutions that address the “new normal” of IT.

“We are a cloud and technology innovation enabler for our customers,” he says. “We are helping them to transform their infrastructures towards where they need to be, to survive in the digital world. It’s imperative for our customers to revise their business models and services, and to review and change the way they are interacting with their customers.”

Regenfuß orchestrates the five key areas in which Accenture Infrastructure Services operates: Cloud, Security, Digital Networks, Digital Workplace, and Service Management. Each has a scope that covers advisory and consulting services, implementation of technologies as well as managed infrastructure services. The latter involves “taking operations responsibility for our clients’ infrastructure and running it for them – servers, storage, network and communications infrastructure, or running Security Operation Centres (SOCs)…”

Secure cloud adoption

The more a traditional business needs to change to catch up with the digital world and cloud-based delivery model, the more dramatic the transformations that Regenfuß’s teams facilitate. “It happens,” he says “for instance, where there’s a manufacturing customer which is producing industrial equipment, and they need to become a service provider, offering new digital-based services around their product, such as equipment-as-a-service with remote monitoring and management – this really means changing their whole business model and moving IT into the core of their business.”

“This is where cloud plays a significant role; it brings the required agility and development platforms to support such business models, as well as also helping to further reduce cost for IT to fund innovation.”

Changing a company’s processes this radically in order to adapt its business model to digital and cloud requires a particular accent on security. “We talk about connecting new types of devices, getting much more data about your customer and the environment, collecting such data in remote places from a multitude of moving sensors and bringing that back into the company for real time analytics and decision making – whilst ensuring that the data is transferred and stored securely and handled with appropriate access rights.

“Who has access to this data? Is it authentic and properly managed? Is the company ready to identify and respond to cyberattacks from the outside? These are the business critical challenges for a digitised enterprise.”

Three years ahead in the cloud

Regenfuß is not a proponent of ‘peak cloud’ – for him the technological stack is only just starting to realise its potential. In three years’ time he envisions a “massive adoption” of cloud-first strategies – also for larger enterprises:

“We are at the beginning of a huge change in the way that companies will source IT in the future,” says Regenfuß. “In three years’ time cloud adoption, in particular public cloud, will be the norm.

“A few first customers, also among the larger enterprises, are currently adopting a public cloud-first strategy, but that is just the beginning. Customers are starting to use cloud for things like burst capacity, where you don’t have predictive and constant workloads anymore, but you suddenly need massive computing capacity, which departments don’t solve any more internally, but go to public cloud providers instead.

“One example is large data analytics, or test simulations running large scale risk models for the insurance and banking industry. Burst capacity is where we really see cloud adoption picking up. There’s also a trend to migrate development and test environments into the cloud, because there you have less of a problem with regulatory or audit constraints, in regard to moving production data into the public cloud – which is the big challenge.

“We are advising our customers to consequently follow a ‘public cloud first’ strategy. The three key reasons here are security, innovation and future cost digression.” Regenfuß argues that normal enterprises can never match the resource skills and investments in security when compared to large public cloud players like AWS or Microsoft. He also believes that bedding into the public cloud will allow companies to directly benefit from future innovations and cost reductions that the public cloud behemoths regularly introduce.

However Regenfuß says that legal and regulatory constraints as well as complex legacy applications that are not ready for public cloud will force enterprises into a hybrid world, where the IT environment reaches across private cloud and public cloud pillars.

In addition enterprises are very wary of any vendor lock-in. “Workload portability across multiple cloud – private and public providers is a key topic for our customers,” he says. “If you put your business-critical workload in the cloud, and you are locking yourself in with the vendor, and you don’t have access to the infrastructure that they use…that is a huge amount of trust that you have to invest in your cloud provider.

“Controls and mechanisms to move workloads between clouds requires a new type of tools, so-called Cloud Management Platforms. Further evolution of corresponding standards is needed.”

A bridge between the clouds

Regenfuß’s own company has invested significantly in its Accenture Cloud Platform, which helps customers to establish bridges between multiple clouds, manage the deployment and movement of workloads on private cloud environments that represent dedicated infrastructure for the company’s client-base, and also to multiple public cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure and AWS.

“We need to help them to bridge across those environments,” he says. “and to be able at any moment to select the right cloud provider, and also to move workloads across, and ‘change’. The interchange may be a price change, where you have a cost-advantage from moving workloads from cloud provider A to cloud provider B, or perhaps there are requirements or regulatory constraints which change, and need to be considered.

“To master hybrid cloud,” says Regenfuß “it is important to have a single dashboard and control instrument across your multiple cloud providers – starting with a single service catalogue over to resource provisioning up to cost control and charge-back. Building such a platform from scratch will be a real challenge for our customers. It is time now for IT executives to finalize their cloud strategy and take tangible steps to make hybrid cloud a reality in their enterprise.”

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