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Cloud Report Card: 3 Months of COVID-19 Impact

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Siva S, CEO of Powerupcloud, Global Cloud Practice Head at LTI

So, here we are. May 2020. It has been 3 months since the Covid-19 pandemic started impacting the global economy and with it the business functions globally. This has not been a smooth ride for governments, businesses, entrepreneurs, and most importantly, the people. I have been actively speaking to several CIOs, CEOs of global businesses with operations in the USA, UK, Germany, France, UAE, SouthAfrica, India, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand. The business sentiments and decisions seem to follow a similar pattern irrespective of the country or government or the business itself. That’s the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had so far on all of us.

In this article, I would be covering the major trends we are witnessing w.r.to public cloud adoption and the change in priorities based on our customer and OEM interactions.

  1. Cloud Cost Optimization: The highest demand we see is with the cost optimization of cloud spend at businesses that are already on the cloud. Irrespective of their spending, be it $0.5M or $20M per year, reducing their cloud spend is a key focus for the CIOs. The ‘Save Now, Pay Later’ program that we launched which helps large businesses save cloud costs with the help of our cloud governance platform – www.cloudensure.io has seen a massive uptake with our global customers due to the nature of the program. The gain-share model, where our success fee is a % of cost savings we bring to the client, thus bringing in a win-win situation for both the vendor and the client, seems exactly what the businesses need at this time of the hour.
  2. Remote Workforce Enablement: This is the second area where we see high demand from our enterprise customers. Be it migration to virtual desktops on cloud or launching a fully scalable virtual contact center on the cloud or adopting virtual collaboration platforms, CIOs are keen to explore technologies that will improve the productivity of their employees working from home. With most businesses taking a call to have their employees work from home till the end of 2020, enabling their remote workers with technology that aids them to work better is at the top of the agenda for businesses. Check out our Remote Workforce Enablement program.
  3. Data Analytics on Cloud: While most of the businesses I interact have literally stopped their big-bang data transformation exercises, they, however, do not want to stop the adoption of cloud for their data environments. We are witnessing a trend wherein customers are identifying their business-critical applications and moving them to cloud including the data layer for 2 reasons – 1. to improve the availability and reliability of the data layer powering these applications 2. to feed the data lake with data in real-time which will allow them to run ML models on the fly. This trend is most likely to follow for the next 12 months. The best part is, by the end of 12 months, businesses who follow this approach will have most of their critical applications running on the cloud with a centralized data approach.
  4. Large Scale Cloud Migrations: Plans to migrate the entire data center to the cloud is seeing a mixed response. I am interacting with a couple of CIOs of large manufacturing businesses in the EU & USA who are going ahead with their plans to migrate completely to the public cloud platforms. These companies have workloads in the nature of 15000+ servers, 1000+ applications. Their argument, a valid one, is to do this entire migration when the manufacturing activity is at its lowest due to COVID-19 impact. But this represents just 10% of our total migration pipeline.
  5. Continuous Cloud Adoption: Most of the other industries are adopting the concept of ‘continuous cloud adoption’ model where they subscribe for a ‘Cloud POD’ (a 6 member team comprising cloud architects, cloud engineers, and a project manager) for a 12 month period. The Cloud POD will work with the customer to identify the key applications and migrate them to the cloud in a sequential manner. This allows the customer to continue their cloud adoption, enabling businesses with better reliability for their key applications and helping the CFO with moving to an OPEX model on an incremental basis. My vote goes to this approach as this model brings in more flexibility to the CIOs. They can use the Cloud POD for security & governance implementations or cost optimization by pausing the migration activity when the situation demands.
  6. AI/ML Adoption: Many artificial intelligence solutions that used to be a hard sell to businesses all these years are seeing a voluntary increased adoption by businesses in these last 3 months and we expect this trend to continue for the next 2 years to come. Chatbots, for example, has seen a 200% increase in demand in this period. We are seeing requirements from building customer support chatbots to internal employee engagement HRMS chatbots to ease the dependency on the human support system to fulfill the end-user needs. Banks, Insurance companies, eCommerce players, OTT platforms, Healthcare organizations, Educational institutes are the ones that often feature in our chatbot requirements pipeline. AI+RPA is another area of focus where businesses are focusing on implementing AI & RPA technologies either in combination or stand alone to automate some of their business processes.

The bottom line is, for almost all the businesses cash conservation is the primary focus. But at the same time, they cannot afford to completely stop their digital transformation journey. The key here is to balance these 2 things so that they are better prepared when the global economy comes back on track. Businesses that take aggressive decisions on either end of the spectrum will see a greater risk of failure. It is completely fine to continue to take an ‘ambiguous’ approach and keeps things in balance instead of boiling the ocean.

Cash conservation should be your primary focus. But don’t stop your digital transformation journey.

The Era Of Contact Center AI Has Started, Officially!!!

By | AI, CS | No Comments

Siva S, CEO of Powerupcloud, Global Cloud Practice Head at LTI

Before I start, I sincerely hope you and your loved ones are safe and well.

There are no doubts that COVID-19 Pandemic has brought great distress to our lives, both in the personal and business front. We see businesses, governments, large corporations are reeling from the effect of lockdowns and COVID-19 spread. Over 90% of the businesses worldwide are suffering due to the lockdown. But the tech industry, especially Cloud and AI are seeing a very different trend. Businesses are realizing that they cannot ignore Cloud and AI anymore and with each day passing, they start feeling more and more pain with their existing traditional IT systems.

In today’s article, I would like to focus on the Contact Center AI solution which is currently the #1 sought after technology on the cloud for businesses across the world.

In 2016, I envisioned a Chatbot platform named IRA.AI (now called Botzer.io) as a customer support chatbot which will automate the customer support process by interacting with customers and provide them with answers in real-time. I must admit that it was a super-hard sell back in 2016. We were one of the first to build a robust chatbot development and management platform, well before AWS & Azure launched their versions. We used Python NLTK to power our chatbot platform. Fast forward to the second half of 2019, the scene wasn’t very different. We still saw a majority of businesses experimenting but not fully adopting the AI Chatbot solutions.

But the COVID-19 Pandemic has changed this situation overnight, very much like how it changed a lot of our lives in a very short time. We are seeing the customer care calls going over the roof since January 2020. One instance where the US citizens applying for unemployment benefits had to wait for almost 48 hours to get through a customer support agent. Another instance where a UK based Telco experiencing a surge of 30% increase in the incoming customer care calls as a lot of their users were struggling with internet bandwidth issues with most of the population started working from home. While the large BPO industry in countries like India and the Philippines were struggling to get their employees working from home, some of the US and UK businesses have canceled the contracts and moved the jobs back to their respective home countries in order to comply with the regulations around data security. This has invariably increased the customer care spend for these businesses.

All these have resulted in businesses looking towards AI Chatbot powered digital agents to help them cope up with the surge in demand and at the same time, keep the costs in check.

How was the AI Chatbot adoption before 2020?

As I mentioned earlier, AI Chatbot concept was seen more as an R&D investment rather than a viable solution to automate the customer care center operations. We saw some early success with insurance companies, banks, airlines, and real-estate companies. But it was always a hard sell to the majority of the businesses primarily because of below reasons,

  • the existing customer care support process was reliable and relatively cheaper when outsourced to countries like India, Philippines
  • there was more emphasis on customer loyalty management, providing the human touch
  • the Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology was not very evolved and fool-proof to be considered as a real alternative
  • the demand was predictable and the training materials were designed to train humans and not AI

But, several technology companies like us have been relentless in their efforts to solve the above-mentioned problems seen with AI Chatbot technology. The NLP accuracy has improved a lot (proof: Alexa, Google Home, Siri) and the leading cloud platforms have launched these NLP techs as full-fledged services for developers to integrate them and build end-to-end AI Chatbot solutions (Amazon Lex, Microsoft LUIS, Google DialogFlow).

How does the Contact Center AI actually work?

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  • The customer calls the customer care support number
  • The contact center software, once it receives the call, will check with the internal customer database (or CRM) to identify the customer
  • The contact center software will then route the call to the workflow tool which will interact with the customer and identify the entity & intent from the customer’s query
  • Based on the preset business logic (or algorithm), the workflow tool will then call the right set of application APIs to resolve the customer’s queries or pick the appropriate response from the AI Chatbot

Below is an architecture diagram that depicts a Contact Center AI implementation on AWS using Amazon Connect (cloud-based contact center software), Amazon Lex (cloud-based NLP service), and Amazon Lambda (cloud-based workflow service).

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So how do you go about AI adoption for your Contact Center AI?

Rome was not built in a day. So is the case with your vision of bringing in AI automation for a large part of your customer care process. Projects in this space would fail and leave a bad taste if we embark on this journey with very high expectations and immediate results. And I have witnessed the pain several times from close quarters. So how does one go about adopting AI for their contact center?

Step 1: Analyse your existing customer care process and identify the low hanging fruits which can be moved to the AI model quickly (almost all AI Chatbot consulting & product companies can help you with this).

Step 2: Segregate the queries and workflows which can be handled by a simple ‘if-else’ rule vs an ‘intent-entity’ identifying the NLP model. Using NLP for queries that can be handled by a simple ‘if-else’ rule will be an overkill and will bring down the accuracy of your NLP engine.

Step 3: Once you have experienced a fair amount of success with the NLP powered model to identify intents, entities in answering customer queries, bring in Machine Learning to further improve on the accuracy of intent identification, bot training, and customer experience management. Yes, there is a whole different world out there already in the field of Contact Center AI. 🙂

Why AI chatbots win over application design?

I often get this very common question on ‘why chatbots when you have beautifully designed applications which can do the job?’. I totally agree with the fact that the apps with better UX will make a customer’s life easier. But the problem with apps is that you will have to adhere to workflow which has been designed in the app. You cannot skip any step, you cannot change your inputs as you wish. The AI Chatbot however allows you to interact the way you would interact with a human and not a machine. You need not learn to use an app (though the learning curve may be less for better-designed apps), you can simply post your query and get your answers or post your intent and get the workflow executed (like policy claims, refund processing, airline reservations, blocking credit cards, etc).

Let the customers interact with your business in their natural way. AI Chatbots allow you to achieve that and this goes a long way in customer experience.

What should customers look for while choosing to embark on this path?

Building and launching your Contact Center AI solution powered by chatbot agents is just the first step. I see a lot of customers struggling with managing the bot they launch and further improve them on a continuous basis. This leads to a low customer satisfaction rating and eventually resulting in a failed project.

Any business looking to implement Contact Center AI to automate their customer care process should consider below check-points.

  1. Check if a solution like Contact Center AI will actually improve efficiency and bring down costs. If your existing support model is broken, do not embark on this before fixing the overall support process.
  2. Choose a bot management platform (like Botzer.io) which will not only help you with building and launching the AI chatbots which will power your contact center, but also help you track the performance of the bots closely.
  3. The bot management platform should allow you to pick up anomalies and help you train the new queries quickly.
  4. The bot management platform should also allow the Contact Center AI solution to handover the call to a human agent if the bot fails to resolve the customer’s queries.
  5. And the most important part, the bot management platform should have rich analytics embedded in the tool which will allow you to track your customer experience score on a real-time basis. This will help you course-correct in your bot training process and will prevent you from experiencing negative reviews in your customer care process.

How will this evolve in future? Will the Contact Center AI replace humans?

No. The Contact Center AI will not replace humans entirely. A healthy model will have a good mix of AI chatbots and human agents working hand-in-hand to support the customers’ queries. The below architecture is highly recommended when you are looking to implement a Contact Center AI for your business.

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I am seeing an increase in Contact Center AI adoption from businesses in industries including insurance, food delivery, e-commerce, healthcare, airlines, telco, banks, etc.

If you have been mulling with the idea of introducing AI into your businesses, the time is here for you to initiate the AI adoption. I would suggest you start with the Contact Center AI solution. It works. And it is one of the mature AI solutions that you can adopt.

“DRaaS” Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service and the Data Protection Imperative

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Compiled by Kiran Kumar, Business analyst at Powerup Cloud Technologies

Contributor Agnel Bankien, Head – Marketing at Powerup Cloud Technologies

DR on-premise versus DR on cloud

Disaster Recovery (DR) is the process of enabling recovery or business continuation of IT functions, systems, and infrastructure performances in case of unforeseen events such as natural disasters, data security breaches, or any other calamity disrupting normal business operations.

It is vital for every organization to have a disaster recovery plan that states the backup and recovery strategies to be taken before, during, and after a disaster in the interest of recovering and safeguarding their business IT infrastructure. 

While on-premise servers offer more control, privacy, and offline data access, they are often expensive given the cost incurred from hardware, software, and skilled resources required to run them. Moreover, conventional DR solutions limit scalability and are incompetent in protecting data during a disaster.

Disaster recovery on the cloud takes a completely different approach as the entire server, including the operating systems, applications, patches, and data are encapsulated into a single software bundle or on virtual servers.

Due to the virtual set up, it is regarded as an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) solution where centralized data on the remote cloud server can be backed up to an offsite data center and wheeled around on a virtual host within no time.

However, if the business is heavily invested in on-premise solutions, decision-makers and stakeholders need to arrive at a reasonable basis on when and how to make a shift to the cloud and whether it is truly necessary. Organizations cannot afford to be carried away by the cost-effectiveness and benefits associated with the cloud.

What changes in the cloud?

With cyber-attacks and system failures occurring frequently coupled with the rise in the demand for systematic and cost-effective data recovery and backups, organizations are now more aware and turning to invest in DR on cloud services. Organizations may find on-premise DR as the right fit for some workloads, while cloud DR may be most suitable for others. Both alternatives can be utilized consensually to arrive at the best DR protection solutions. Let us look at some of the most significant benefits offered by cloud disaster recovery:

Reduced Downtime

As virtual setups are hardware-independent, Cloud DR, whether run solely or as a service (DRaaS) makes it easy for critical data and all applications on cloud to be safely and accurately replicated on multiple data centers.

This eminently decreases the recovery time compared to conventional (non-virtualized) disaster recovery methods where usually, servers first need to be loaded with the OS and application software and patched to the last configuration used in production before the data can be restored. 

A cloud-based disaster recovery solution also offers increased scalability and flexibility of data while engaging minimum resources to run the setup on the cloud.

Easy and secure deployment

Cloud DR facilitates organizations to configure and build customized architecture as per their business needs. Whether it is the security and control of a private cloud deployment, the cost-effectiveness, and ease of a public cloud, or hybrid, which is the best of both solutions, cloud DR ascertains unique opportunities to transform and secure businesses efficiently and with greater agility.

Faster turnaround time

The periodic online backups between data centers on cloud have almost dispelled the offsite tape backup practices. With the cloud DR taking over, maintaining a cold site disaster recovery facility has also become redundant as a cost-effective backup of critical servers can be spun up in minutes on a shared or private cloud host platform.

Cost-effectiveness

Additionally, SAN-to-SAN replication with its centralized repository of archived data helps duplicate data between multiple storage sites and can easily support private cloud environments providing fast recovery times (RTO of 1 hour and RPO of minutes). Conventional DR systems, restrained by their high costs and testing related challenges were unable to facilitate the same.

High availability

One of the most stimulating capacities of cloud disaster recovery is the ability to provide multi-site availability. 

In case of a disaster, SAN replication not only provides swift failover to the DR site but also capacitates reinstating to the production site once the DR test or disaster event is taken care of. 

Reliability and business continuity

Integrated backup and disaster recovery for on-premise as well as cloud workloads promote centralized management that simplifies data protection across the entire cloud infrastructure. One-click automated DR ensures timely recovery, reduces network congestion during backup, and clones applications and systems across multiple cloud accounts.

Moreover, cloud disaster recovery proves highly beneficial allowing organizations to regulate the costs and performance of the DR platform. In case of a disaster, applications and servers that are considered less critical can be rendered with fewer resources, while ensuring that critical applications that need instant attention are catered to with immediate effect in order to keep the business running through the disaster.

With cloud computing, there is zero onsite hardware building cost, significant high-speed recovery time, continuous system availability, and data backup that is feasible every 15 minutes. Eventually, in the long run, disaster recovery becomes much more cost-effective, secure, and scalable despite the fixed on-going cloud costs incurred.

Some of the most cost-effective cloud-based disaster recovery platforms are AWS, Azure, and GCP. They offer infrastructure and data recovery solutions, solutions that provide data backup, minimum downtime while protecting major IT systems.

Data protection on cloud  

According to research conducted by ESG 38% of organizations’ data is expected to be cloud-resident within 24 months. With data being back-uped across multiple data centers it is essential to understand some of the common methods used to protect your data on cloud.

Cloud data protection is the process of safekeeping stored, static, and moving data in the cloud also known as Data Protection as a Service (DPaaS), designed to execute the most optimal data storage and security methodologies.

Cloud data protection provides data integrity, states policies, and measures that ensure cloud infrastructure security and creates a compatible data storage management system.

As organizations are accumulating and moving large amounts of data on cloud, it is highly challenging for them to perceive where all their applications and data on cloud are. 

With third-party infrastructure predominantly handling enterprise cloud environments, there is a loss of control over who, from which device, and how their data is being accessed or shared resulting in low visibility of operations.

Even with organizations and cloud providers customarily sharing responsibilities for cloud security, organizations often have low insight on how cloud providers are storing and securing their data even though sophisticated security measures are set in place.

Besides, multiple cloud providers offer varied capabilities that can cause inconsistent cloud data protection and security in addition to other security issues like breaches, malware, loss, or theft of sensitive data or application vulnerabilities. 

A recent survey reveals that 67% of cybersecurity professionals are concerned about protecting data from loss and leakage, 61% worry about threats to data privacy, and 53% of them about breaches of confidentiality. 

Therefore it is hardly surprising that companies are heavily confining to data protection and privacy laws and regulations with the data protection market projected to surpass US$158 billion by 2024. 

Protecting cloud data is much like protecting data within a traditional data center. Authentication and identity, access control, encryption, secure deletion, integrity checking and data masking are all data protection methods that have applicability in cloud computing. 

Authentication and identity 

Centralized authentication of users based on a combination of authentication factors like a password, a security token, or some intrinsic measurable quality such as a fingerprint is the first step to data safety. It promotes proactive identity and eliminates suspicious user behavior.

While single-factor authentication is based on only one authentication factor, stronger authentication requires two-factor authentication based on additional features like a pin and a fingerprint for instance. 

Access Control

Effective access controls in combination with other security capabilities enable maintenance of complex IT environments by integrating voluntary ownership controls with a set of role-based permission privileges along with an access control list, naming individuals and their access modes to the objects and groups on cloud. Identity-based access controls are required to support organizational access policies where procedures are defined to secure the entire data life cycle. Mechanisms are needed to ascertain that data is accessed appropriately without malicious intent and there is limited exposure of data during backups.

This helps secure applications and data across multiple cloud environments while maintaining complete visibility into all user, folder, and file activities.

Encryption 

Data labeling is an information security technique that has been used widely for classified, sensitive, or confidential information that equally supports non-classified categories. The objective of information identification and categorization is to put in place a centralized framework for controls and data handling through file permissions, encryption, or more sophisticated container approaches.

On the contrary, data sometimes is treated as being equal insensitivity or value leading to sensitive data getting mixed in with non-sensitive data making it vulnerable. This in turn complicates incident resolution and can pose serious issues in case of data subject to regulatory controls.

Encryption of data is essential at the operating system and application levels where the entire set of data directories are encrypted or decrypted, as a container and access to files is through the use of encryption keys. The same method can be used to segregate identical sensitive data or categorize them into directories that are individually encrypted with different keys. File-level encryption caters to encrypting individual files instead of the whole directory or hard drive. Lastly, the application can also manage the encryption and decryption of application-managed data.

 Securing data integrity and confidentiality while data is in motion is of utmost priority and this can be achieved by utilizing encryption combined with authentication to create a secure channel where data can pass to or from the cloud. Thus, in case of a violation, data remains confidential and authentication assures that the parties communicating data are authentic.

Deletion of data

To delete sensitive data on the cloud, it is necessary to verify if data is hygienic and how it intends to be deleted otherwise the data is at risk of being exposed. Moreover, deleted data can still be accessed from archives or data backup bundles even after it is deleted. For instance, if a subscriber deletes a portion of the data and the cloud provider backs up that data every night and archives tapes for 6 months, that data still exists. Accommodating this in the Information Security Policy when adopting cloud is of prime importance to its integrity.

Data Masking 

Data masking is a technique used to conceal the identity of sensitive information while keeping it operational. It is the process of preserving data privacy by substituting actual data values with keys to an external lookup table that holds the actual data values. Masked data values can be processed with lesser controls than if the original data was still unmasked.

Cloud data protection is certainly crucial as organizations are not only able to secure their cloud set up but also attain enhanced visibility into their compartmentalized centralized data repository. Companies are better placed at defining regulatory policies, governing their cloud, and proactively mitigating risks to prevent data loss and disruption.

It is difficult to predict where technology is headed but it is clear that on-premises DR solutions are now seen as a precursor to cloud-based DR solutions.

Rise of ‘x’Ops

By | CS, Powerlearnings | No Comments

Compiled by Kiran Kumar, Business analyst at Powerup Cloud Technologies

Contributor Agnel Bankien, Head – Marketing at Powerup Cloud Technologies

Unfolding the term ‘x’Ops

In the present age, with increased work from home circumstances, geographically distributed teams and dominant technological advancements, organizations are obliged to adapt to more contemporary and flexible work culture. 

In the near future, there is an even greater probability of IT industries working remotely due to the rapid emergence of cloud-based infrastructure and tools. Therefore, the distributed teams need to administer means to integrate the way they function. The development, security, network and cloud teams need to work jointly with IT operations to ensure reliability, security, and increased productivity. 

This has paved the way for ‘x’Ops, an upcoming umbrella term being widely used these days to describe how business operations and customer experiences can be improved by getting the teams to communicate and collaborate better while stimulating automation techniques to build an effective IT Ops process.

Organizations are undergoing a massive cultural shift where it narrows down to operations teams adopting clearly defined roles, transparent communication, and cloud embedded functions.

The ‘x’Ops umbrella

Over the last few years, there have been four major ops functions that help run efficient cloud operations. The term ‘x’Ops has been formulated from these very cloud operations that can be broadly classified under two categories: 

DevOps

What is DevOps?

DevOps is a model that enables IT development and operations to work concurrently across the complete software development life cycle (SDLC). It aims to minimize the application development process while ensuring continuous and high-quality software delivery.

The prime intent of DevOps is to build an agile environment of communication, collaboration, and trust among and between IT teams and application owners.

Need for DevOps

Prior to DevOps application development, discrete teams worked on requirements gathering, coding, testing, and deployment of the software. Deployment teams were further divided into networking and database teams. Each team worked independently, unaware of the inefficiency and roadblocks that occurred due to the silos approach.

How it works

DevOps handles these challenges by establishing collaborative cross-functional teams that are tightly integrated to maintain and run the system, right from development and testing to deployment as well as operations.

The most crucial DevOps practice is to conduct small yet frequent release updates. This is possible through DevOps practices such as continuous integration and continuous delivery processes that help cement the workflows and responsibilities of development and operations. 

Teams adopt new technologies like containers and microservices to improve automation practices via technology stack and tooling. 

This not only helps teams to exclusively complete tasks on their own but also enables the applications to run and mature consistently and swiftly.

Communication across internal and external teams is the fundamental key to aligning all sections of an organization more closely. Monitoring and logging help DevOps teams track the performance of applications to guarantee improved teamwork, greater security, delivery predictability, efficiency, and maintainability. DevOps backs integrated teams to build, validate, deliver, and support their applications and services better.

LTI Canvas DevOpsCanvas DevOps is LTIs Self-service DevSecOps platform for automated enablement and persona-based governance. Automated DevOps Enablement | Continuous Assessment | Value Stream Management | Persona-based Governance.

SecOps

What is SecOps?

As per recent studies, IT and security teams struggle to collaborate well. 54% of security leaders say they communicate effectively with IT professionals to which only 45% of IT professionals agree. This mismatch needs to be addressed jointly by IT and security teams to prioritize data protection over innovation, speed to market, and cost. 

SecOps is the joint effort between IT security and operations to integrate technology and processes that reduce risk, keep data safe, and improve business agility. 

Need for SecOps

As IT operations stress upon rapid innovation and push new products to market, security teams are weighed down with identifying security vulnerabilities and compliance issues. In case of a security breach, organizations are at a high risk of losing their customers as well as their brand image leading to a sizable financial impact on business. Hence, for substantial and continuous infrastructure security, the SecOps process must integrate security and operations teams to protect business operations by fixing issues while securing the infrastructure. 

How it works

Gartner states that through 2020, “99% of vulnerabilities exploited will continue to be the ones known by security and IT professionals for at least one year.”

Therefore, the most important aspect is to establish security guardrails and monitor the security spectrum on the cloud continuously. Moreover, the SecOps team must ensure to be primarily responsible and accountable towards security incidents with proactive and reactive monitoring of the entire security scope of the organization’s cloud ecosystem.

According to Forrester Research, “Today’s security initiatives are impossible to execute manually. As infrastructure-as-a-code, edge computing, and internet-of-things solutions proliferate, organizations must leverage automation to protect their business technology strategies.”

With digitization on the rise, effective communications tools have to be leveraged to facilitate cross-functional collaboration. Additionally, enterprises that automate core security functions such as vulnerability remediation and compliance enforcement are five times more likely to be sure of their teams communicating effectively. 

FinOps

What is FinOps?

FinOps, an abbreviation for Cloud Financial Management is the conjunction of finance and operations teams. 

It is the procedure of managing financial operations by linking people, processes, and technology. FinOps endorses a secure framework for managing business operating expenses in the cloud. 

Need for FinOps

The traditional IT financial model worked independently of other teams and lacked the technical modernism of the new efficient cloud-enabled innovative business practices. Limitations in infrastructure adaptability concerning business requirements only inflated the costs making the system slow-moving and expensive. Organizations needed to establish a cost control system for their cloud environments to understand what and from where costs are incurred to keep a check on the cloud spends.

Also, setting up a cost center for all business and application teams would facilitate them to have easy access to the cloud spend data, enforcing rational use of cloud.

How it works

For organizations to gain steady and robust FinOps practices, it is important to follow the three stages of FinOps on cloud: Inform, Optimize, and Operate. 

The first phase assists in the detailed assessment of cloud assets, budget allocations, and understanding industry standards to detect and optimize areas of improvement.

Optimize phase helps set alerts and measures to identify areas that need to spend and redistribute resources. It generates real-time decision-making capacity and recommends application or architecture changes where necessary. 

Operate helps in continuous tracking of costs by instilling proactive cost control measures at the resource level.

This enables distributed teams to drive the business following speed, cost, and quality. 

FinOps brings in flexibility in operations, creates financial accountability to the variable cloud spends, and helps develop best practices in understanding cloud costs better.

CloudOps

What is CloudOps?

CloudOps is the process of identifying and defining the appropriate operational procedures to optimize IT services within the cloud environment. 

When applications migrate to the cloud, they may need assistance to manage all products and services on cloud.

Therefore, cloud operations are a culmination of DevOps and traditional IT operations that allow cloud based platforms, applications, and data to strengthen technically while stringing together the processes and people maintaining the services.

Need for CloudOps

According to a survey conducted by Sirius Decisions, 78% of organizations have already adopted agile methods for product development. However, for organizations to accelerate agility and attain cloud smart status while keeping a check on budget overruns and wasted cloud spends, it is necessary to device cloud computing services. 

Maintaining on-premises data centers, monitoring network, and server performances, and running uninterrupted operations were always a challenge in the traditional set-up. On the other hand, with the adoption of cloud security services, accessibility to data, infrastructure, and applications from any location is safe and effortless, resources can be scaled as required and automation of operations has become elementary. CloudOps makes the system predictive and proactive and helps in enhancing visibility and governance.

How it works

Since cloudOps is an extension of DevOps and IT, it aims at building a cloud operations management suite to direct applications and data on cloud post-migration. According to the Right Scale State of the Cloud Report, 94% of enterprises are using some type of cloud service and the global cloud computing market is expected to grow to $832.1 billion by 2025.

CloudOps comprises governance tools that optimize costs; enhance security and capacity planning. It also promotes continuous monitoring and managing of applications running on cloud with minimal resources. 

Due to the cloud environment’s flexibility, scalability, and the ability to dissociate from the existing infrastructure, the system becomes less prone to errors.

With containers, microservices, and serverless functions on cloud, teams are obliged to equally align their operations without compromising on stability and productivity. 

Built-in automation cloudOps techniques provision for agility, speed, and performance-related metrics. It additionally facilitates smooth handling of service, incident or problem requests to fix cloud infrastructure and application-related issues.

Combining DevOps initiates a faster CI/CD pipeline guaranteeing continuous improvement, greater ROI with minimum risk, and consistent delivery of customer needs.

AIOPS: AI-Led Enterprise IT Operations LTI’s Mosaic AIOps uses contextual AI with asset telemetry information to present a holistic view of the IT Estate & spot issues in real-time, which helps in providing better quality support and efficient planning in IT operations activities.

The state of ‘x’Ops

Data show that a mere 17% of organizations have fully adopted DevOps while the rest are still associated with the comparatively slow-moving agile delivery processes.

The IT industry has come a long way with transitioning from traditional IT practices to adopting agile methodologies in the early 2000s with now making a swift cultural shift towards DevOps practices.  This incremental ascent towards technology and cloud has devised the concept of ‘x’Ops.

Agile to DevOps to DevSecOps

Agile did revolutionize the IT sector two decades ago, enabling teams to work at a faster pace but not necessarily in conjunction. 

With the industry eventually realizing the importance of focusing on people more than tools and processes, DevOps emerged with the intent of making diverse teams like dev, QA, and ops work in collaboration. DevOps is considered as a more streamlined and improvised version than agile with automation as its key driver. 

DevSecOps is not a significant change if organizations have already implemented DevOps practices. DevSecOps, also known as SecDevOps, is incorporating secure development best practices into the development and deployment processes of IT functions with the aid of DevOps. DevSecOps is an evolution of the DevOps concept that, besides automation, addresses the issues of code quality and reliability assurance.  

When security is the primary focus of a DevOps team, the aim is to introduce and develop security-related strategies, processes, and policies from the inception phase of the SDLC. The idea is for everyone to be responsible for security while building the application.

Traditional security validation occurs only post the design phase, which might hamper the speed and accuracy of software deliveries. DevSecOps warrants ongoing flexible coordination among developers and security teams to ensure speedy delivery of secure codes. Security testing is conducted in iterations by strategically placing security checkpoints at different stages of the SDLC. Thus, DevOps and DevSecOps allow development, operations and security teams to balance security and compliance as well as streamline the entire process without compromising on quality or slowing down the delivery cycle.

With the onset of development, security, finance, and cloud operations coming together under one umbrella, IT operations have gained immense competency in cloud-based services giving rise to a trending terminology called ‘x’Ops. 

Approach to ‘x’Ops

To elaborate further, take for instance Powerupcloud’s approach to implementing DevOps practices to a well-renowned fintech company. The objective was to transform the customer’s monolithic application into a complete microservices-based architecture. They wanted to automate the migration process along with a separate cloud account set-up for dev, test, and UAT. 

A primary cloud directory was incorporated by the DevOps team to manage users, groups, and computers as well as support numerous cloud-based third-party applications and services, thus advocating the collaborative work culture. DevOps team generated container modules for multiple resources to make them reusable and modular. 

Application stacks were broken down to make it scalable ensuring easy deployments. 

Debugging and maintenance got simpler for the dev and QA teams while automating processes enhanced code quality. 

Role-based access control on cloud ensured secured authentication, centralized log monitoring systems enabled customers to monitor and view application-specific logs on centralized dashboards, increased overall cost-effectiveness, and improved performance of the application.

In another illustration, a top foreign exchange company wanted to avail of cloud-computing services to increase its share of the global remittance market to more than 10%

For this, the customer decided to modernize its infrastructure on the cloud and run both the traditional and remodeled systems in parallel until the transition was completed. The new platform was to be portable across the cloud and on-premise set up to meet compliance regulations. 

Once the customer environment was understood, best practice architecture for deployment and an appropriate DevOps procedure was agreed upon.

Infrastructure-as-a-code service was provisioned to deploy the application smoothly.

Built-in cloud automated tools were utilized for configuration management, scheduling jobs, and batch processing.

The DevOps team established a CI/CD pipeline to automate the software delivery process and securely deploy new versions of the application while also enabling the infrastructure to run on cloud and on-premise continuously. 

Powerupcloud also supported the customer in identifying cloud equivalent solutions for their on-premise stack in use.

Will ‘x’Ops replace IT operations? 

Cloud has revamped the IT industry to a large extent and with the push to deploy faster with higher volumes at frequent intervals, organizations are taking considerable advantage of multiple cloud services that are being offered. As cloud computing gains momentum globally, IT organizations are embracing modern tooling and automation techniques that are significant components of cloud-native computing.

For example, role-based access control and encryption key management are not new practices to IT and maybe only implemented differently in a cloud environment. Whereas, practices like running containers with non-root privileges, container image scanning, and configuring a service mesh for networking are all new to the software delivery process.

With distributed teams, applications, and infrastructure, there is a lot of data to be safeguarded, which is distinctly possible only through machine learning algorithms. AI and cloud automation tools help analyze real-time system performance and health metrics to detect and prevent vulnerabilities and external threats, which cannot be managed manually. 

It is important to determine the most befitting solution for a given business need. Sometimes, the solution to “lift and shift” a monolithic application on to cloud and package it in containers works, whereas, it may be more feasible to entirely terminate an older application to replace it with a cloud-native system in other cases. 

Likewise, it is difficult to replace or refurbish legacy systems completely as Gartner indicates, “a legacy application is an information system that may be based on outdated technologies, but is critical to day-to-day operations.”

To keep pace with the new digital transformation age, organizations need to modernize their systems by implementing innovative techniques continuously. 

Although cloud computing has more advantages than traditional IT systems, it would be inappropriate to presume that ‘x’Ops would entirely replace IT operations. There is steady progress towards modernization but a good mix of the existing on-premise set-up and cloud-based systems still coexist notably in the current software industry construct.  The ability to absorb new technologies and platforms seamlessly is critical, and the reinvented IT Ops plays a crucial role in today’s times but the IT ops still need to go a long way before it can don the “all under one roof” – ‘x’Ops superset status.

Mitigating the migration bubble

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Compiled by Kiran Kumar, Business analyst at Powerup Cloud Technologies

Contributor Agnel Bankien, Head – Marketing at Powerup Cloud Technologies

What is the “migration bubble? ”

Organizations today are experiencing a major cultural shift in terms of adding value to their existing business operations to bring in more agility and cost optimization. Fortune Business Insights predict that the global cloud computing market size is anticipated to hit USD 760.98 billion by 2027.

With cloud-computing practices gaining momentum at such a fast pace, it is vital to understand that while reaping cost benefits from it is inevitable, the initial investments are quite significant.

Migrating to the cloud can prove expensive, as organizations need to accommodate new costs incurred from migration while also continuing to finance the running and maintenance costs of their current on-premise infrastructure. This is what is known as the cloud migration bubble or the double bubble.

According to Amazon Web Services (AWS), the peak time and money necessary to migrate to the cloud is the “Cloud Migration Bubble.”

It is pertinent that rise in IT costs is concurrent to business growth and when organizations are in the process of building an efficient migration blueprint, it is important to first understand the current costs of running applications followed by the interim costs. 

For this, organizations need to take into account the amount of time and money spent on the initial planning, assessment, duplicating environments, third party consulting, upskilling existing resources and technology. Additionally, they also have to endure the burden of on-premise data center costs from maintaining servers, storage, network, physical space and labor required to support applications and services until the organization migrates all-in to cloud. 

When the migration is on-going, there may be a few test workloads as well as some duplicate workloads on cloud, that add to the already rising overall costs.

If migration is planned to correspond with hardware retiral, license and maintenance expiration, and other opportunities that would eventually help reduce costs, the savings as well as the process of escaping cost associated with a full all-in migration to cloud will allow enterprises to fund the migration bubble better and may even be able to shorten the duration by applying more resources when required.

What causes it?

When migrations happen in stages, it is common to have resources sometimes running on-premise as well as on cloud while some are still in queue causing duplication of environments for which organizations end up paying for both, the production environment as well as the new cloud set up. Costs related to licensing of automated tools to speed up the migration process also instigates the bubble to grow.

Secondly, replicating data from source to target cloud followed by testing of the replication progress, which is a time consuming job, inflates the double bubble largely.

Just before the infrastructure is ready to be moved fully on to the cloud, a migration test that ensures the recovery systems are able to support critical business needs to be performed. This is known as a cutover test where the new set up coexists with the old system before its complete withdrawal until an efficient and controlled system is established.

Not taking advantage of the cost governance tools also leads to elevated expenses. It is always advisable to move to cloud in phases rather than move the applications, departments or resources one by one. It is important to evaluate which applications are good enough to move to the cloud, which ones need to be rewritten to benefit from the cloud and applications that need to be terminated for good to keep a check on the bubble.

What Top CIOs have to say about it?

As per a recent study from SaaS network monitoring service LogicMonitor, close to 40% of business workloads are still running on-premise, whereas Tech Pro Research states that 37% of surveyed businesses are still evaluating hybrid models to help mitigate public cloud-associated risks.

While adaptation to cloud services is definitely on the rise, CIOs across organizations are still cautious when it comes to choosing the most accurate cloud service or capacity as well as taking exhaustive technical decisions owing to the vast availability of complex cloud solutions in the market.

Keeping a strict check on the already rising costs apart from being concerned about security on cloud is another challenge especially when data breaches can be attributed to poor configuration of cloud instances. It is widely believed that such errors are mainly caused by end users and cloud administrators and not by cloud providers where research from Gartner indicates that by 2020, 95% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault making the CIOs and CTOs accountable for their decisions. However, Gartner studies also reveal that CIOs are beginning to see cloud computing as the number one technology today and there are signs of more consideration and acceptance towards digitization needs. 

In the long run, the future leaders of technology need to redefine and magnify their existing roles and accept cloud as an efficient, cost-effective tool. They also need to continue adding value to their organizations by strategizing to build innovative solutions and products by merging new technologies with existing tools continually.

Busting the cloud migration bubble – How the cloud can help?

Once the costs contributing to the migration bubble are understood, the next step would be to determine cost saving strategies that will drive the cloud migration process faster.

Some unique ways to bust the bubble

Organizations can opt for third-party providers to outsource their IT maintenance, which is significantly more economical than servicing from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). The strategy has guaranteed noteworthy savings of almost 50-70%.

Organizations are expected to invest in long-term contracts with OEMs for new hardware in case of breakdown or failure during migration. Instead, if third-party vendors are approached for purchase or lease of certified systems or components, organizations can attract a sizable savings of over 80% as compared to OEM prices.

The idea is for third party vendors to evaluate the organization’s existing IT set up to buy out all the hardware assets at the current fair market price. These equipment and assets can be leased back to the organization until the cloud migration process is on-going, after which, the third party vendor can discard the on-premise hardware without the organizations having to enter into any long-term maintenance contracts. This instantly generates a reasonable amount of capital that can be used to fund new cloud projects, hire consultants or build internal cloud teams.

The applications that would benefit most from cloud cost and efficiencies must be identified based on the “6Rs” — retire, retain, re-host, re-platform, re-purchase, and re-factor. Applications that would guarantee higher ROI while cutting down significantly on operation costs should be prioritized for migration. Optimizing costs helps control the migration bubble.

Cloud providers offer various migration acceleration initiatives like initial buy-ins or sponsors, consulting support, training and free service credits to provide a head start on the migration journey. Additionally, cloud service providers also offer special discounts if enterprises opt for their cloud platforms while also helping them build a robust operational foundation by providing 24/7 support.

Top cloud service providers are known to design innovative pricing techniques that tender customized per second billing, sustained or committed usage discounts, provisioning preemptible VM instances, pay as you go services with no lock-in period and zero termination costs. Enterprises thus enjoy a significant reduction in their cloud infrastructure spend which in turn helps offset the initial cost of migration.

Certified cloud architects and consultants can provide dedicated training to the organization’s resources thus accelerating the cloud migration process while invariably diminishing the migration bubble. 

As a result, though expenses may seem overwhelming while the transition happens, it is essential to understand the immediate savings as well as benefits that will follow. Thus, based on the above factors, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) can be calculated to perceive an optimal migration bubble analysis.

Examples 

For instance, a Swedish media service provider focused on its audio-streaming platform services, had difficulties provisioning and maintaining its in-house data centers. The decision was made to move to cloud in two phases after ample planning and assessment with a dedicated cloud specialist assigned to oversee the migration. This not just helped them minimize the costs and complexity of the cloud migration but also ensured smooth and efficient product development operations while allowing their resources to focus majorly on innovation.

In another illustration, a web based Software Company’s core application that enabled software development teams to collaborate on projects in real time, wanted to improve their performance, reliability and evolution on a massive scale. They decided to migrate from their current cloud service provider to a cloud native container based infrastructure that offered increased reliability. They initiated the move by mirroring their data between both cloud providers, eventually achieving improved performance, scalability and availability post migration. They averaged from 32 minutes of weekly downtime to 5 minutes after the cloud-to-cloud move.

Ways to avoid the migration bubble

The higher the time taken to migrate to cloud, the higher is the cost endured, thus inflating the bubble.  

 Therefore, every organization must build a framework to standardize their architecture, automate deployments and run operations at a low cost. The best way to avoid or keep a tab on the migration bubble is to consolidate and implement best practices from previous migration projects. A well-defined standardized infrastructure can help automate and expedite cloud migration operations. Using such a template warrants an optimized cost structure and organizations can flatten the bubble curve consistently.

Apart from implementing best practices, it is also important to define the pace of migration, anticipate the time needed to transition, identify and test replication of data and applications and define a waiting period while moving from source to target cloud. Communication within and across teams is the key to building the acceptance criteria before organizations can move on to the actual planning and assessment of migration. Re-examining estimates and schedules is a must to control and lessen the double bubble effect.

Conclusion 

Many organizations are shifting their business operations to cloud in order to simplify infrastructure management, deploy faster, ensure scalability and availability, increase agility, enhance innovation, and reduce cost. 

With a clear idea of what comprises the existing infrastructure costs, what are the different factors and expenses contributing to the migration bubble and an estimate of the expected savings, organizations will be better placed to arrive at the payback time and projected ROI, consequently mitigating the migration bubble.

Clouding Out Technical Debt

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Compiled by Kiran Kumar, Business analyst at Powerup Cloud Technologies

Contributor Agnel Bankien, Head – Marketing at Powerup Cloud Technologies

Introduction

Large IT organizations comprising cross-functional teams, multi-products and services are dedicated to supporting and delivering software solutions on a swift and continuous basis. Such technologies and software solutions are omnipresent and undergo constant change, but the need to keep abreast with this dynamic scenario is highly demanding and can sometimes lead to ambiguity and debts if not monitored from time to time. 

Technical debt is considered healthy until it is at reasonable levels. However, If debts aren’t administered in time, businesses may face a larger impact in terms of poor or outdated product design, impaired software maintenance, and delays in delivery leading to demotivated teams and dissatisfied stakeholders.

With cloud computing gaining momentum, organizations are reaping benefits in terms of lower infrastructure deployment, maintenance costs, agility, scalability, business continuity, and increased utilization.

However, organizations must also look at resolving issues arising from technical debts by leveraging services offered by cloud providers. 

According to IDC, by 2023, 75% of G2000 companies would commit to providing technical parity to a workforce that is hybrid by design rather than by circumstance, enabling them to work together separately and in real-time. Through 2023, coping with accumulated technical debt would be the top priority where CIOs would look for opportunities to design next-generation digital platforms that modernize and rationalize infrastructure and applications while delivering flexible capabilities. 

Cloud services have the much-needed capabilities to cater to design, code, and infrastructure components of technical debts that would not just help upgrade and streamline their existing systems but will also help shift focus towards developing and delivering new and innovative products, services, and solutions.

Migrating to the cloud requires a well-coordinated effort between IT operations, infrastructure support, cloud providers, and the organization’s senior management. If an organization plans, coordinates, and executes as effectively, then technical debt can definitely be reduced or settled using cloud computing.

Technical Debt

Technical debt in layman’s terms means a debt arising out of the attempt at achieving short-term gains that actually converts to potential long-term pain. 

Many times, IT teams need to forgo certain development work such as writing clean code, writing concise documentation, or building clean data sources to hit a particular business deadline,” says Scott Ambler, VP and chief scientist of disciplined agile at Project Management Institute.

The additional cost incurred from rework because enterprises couldn’t do it right the first time either due to constraint in time, budgets, or demands, often end up experiencing increased downtime, higher operational costs and cost implied due to additional rework in the long run.

Why Managing Technical Debt is important 

When technical debt is left unchecked, it can limit your organization’s ability to try and adapt to new technologies, restrict organizations from coping with advanced market trends, reduce transparency, and limit timely deliverables.

Studies by CRL have identified that the technical debt of an average-sized application of 300,000 lines of code (LOC) is $1,083,000. This represents an average technical debt per LOC of $3.61. 

With technical and quality debts piling up over a period of time, organizations face a negative impact concerning increased cost and efforts from rework, indefinite delays, and compromise in the brand image or inferior market share.

Here are some typical use cases: 

  • Utilizing less efficient development platforms that unnecessarily increase the length and complexity of code. Studies show that modern platforms can reduce the application development lifecycle by 40-50%.
  • Delay in upgrading your IT infrastructure can have a compounding effect as unsupported hardware and software components become more expensive to maintain and operate.
  • Also, unsupported hardware and software components increase provision time resulting in increased time to market. During complex requirements, continuing to work with limited capabilities and resources can increase team fatigue. 
  • Lack of foresight while designing infrastructure can have an impact on future upgrades and change initiatives risking your entire business set-up.

How do we quantify Technical Debt?

Quantifying your problems can help you make clear decisions. Breaking it down to numbers not only makes it easier to understand, compare, analyze, and track progress but also helps create a plan of action to remediate all the detected issues.   

Technical debt can be computed with a ratio of the cost incurred to fix the system to the cost it takes to build the system; 

Technical Debt Ratio (TDR) = (Remediation Cost / Development Cost) x 100%

TDR is a useful tool that helps track the state of your infrastructure and applications. A low TDR reflects that your application is performing well and doesn’t require any upgrades. A high TDR reflects the system is in a poor state of quality and also depicts the time required to make the upgrades. Higher the TDR ratio, higher the time it takes to upgrade or restore the application.

Remediation cost (RC) is the cyclomatic complexity value of a particular project or application. RC can also be represented in terms of time, which will help determine the time taken to fix issues pertaining to a particular code function.

Development cost [DC] is the cost generated from writing the lines of code. For example, the number of lines of code multiplied by the cost per line of code will give us the total development cost incurred to build that code.

Thus, the solution is to represent technical debt as a ratio rather than a hypothetical number. With being represented as a ratio, the stakeholders are able to quantify the debts objectively and across multiple projects as the calculations contain the number of lines of code, providing an exact best and worst score percentage ratio.

An acceptable thumb rule is that codes with a technical debt ratio of over 10% are considered poor in quality. Once this is determined, the management team is directed towards working along with the development team to define strategies for eliminating the debts.

Types of technical debt

  • Architectural Debt – Architectural debt refer to debts arising out of substandard structural design and implementation that gradually deteriorates the quality of the software.
  • Build Debt – Large and frequent changes in specifications and codebases lead to build debts.
  • Code Debt – Code or design debt, represents the extra development work that arises when mediocre code is implemented in the short run, despite it not being of best quality due to deadline or budget constraints. 
  • Defect Debt – Defect debts refer to the bugs or failures found but not fixed in the current release, because there are either other higher priority defects to be fixed or there are limited resources to fix bugs.
  • Documentation Debt – Documentation debt is a type of technical debt that highlights problems like missing or incomplete information in documents.
  • Infrastructure Debt – IT Infrastructure technical debt is the total cost needed to refurbish  technology such as servers, operating systems, anti-virus tools, databases, networks, etc. in order to upgrade them.
  • People Debt – People debt is debt rising from the resources being less experienced, under skilled and sometimes having to make compromising decisions due to time or budget constraints despite knowing the repercussions of it.
  • Process Debt – Process Debt is the circumstances in which an organization adopts processes that are easy to implement instead of applying the best overall solution that would be beneficial in the long run.
  • Requirement Debt – Requirement debt is the debt incurred during the identification, validation, and implementation of requirements.
  • Service Debt – Service debt is the additional cash that is required to repay the debt for a particular period that includes the outstanding interest as well as principal components.
  • Test Automation Debt – The debt arising out of increased effort to maintain a test code because coding standards weren’t adopted in the first place.

Is Cloud the way out?

There are multiple types of debt, each unique but paying them off may or may not be a priority at a given point in time. A decade ago, there were no alternatives to running your infrastructure on data centers, hence solving interoperability issues or upgrading slower or redundant components efficiently took a lot of time. Therefore, managing technical debts was a massive challenge for almost all IT organizations.

Organizations have constantly been on the lookout for technical debt reversal strategies and the key possibilities of the cloud’s ability to address the various technical debt issues are fast catching up.

A study reveals that organizations end up spending 90% of their time on troubleshooting technical debt issues. The longer you tend to accumulate debts, the longer it takes to resolve it besides incurring higher costs the system sometimes become unfit for daily business operations.

Gartner reports that organizations spend more than 70 % of their IT budget simply operating their technology platforms, as high as 77 % in some industries, thus leaving precious little budget for enhancements and innovation.

Cloud computing has helped unlock an organization’s full potential allowing it to move towards innovative capabilities and sustainable growth while performing audits and checks to keep all kinds of debts at bay. 

Cloud services enable an organization to: 

  • Move from CapEx to OpEx model
  • Use pay-as-you-go services
  • Scale infrastructure 
  • Increase speed and agility of deployments
  • Auto-scale for better optimization and
  • Reduce maintenance cost

To begin with, it is best to opt for a hybrid cloud approach. Hybrid infrastructure is similar to that of a three-tier architecture where the application and its data is split between an on-premise and preferred cloud provider that helps optimize costs and gain increased control over the overall architecture.

In many cases, it makes sense for an organization to maintain their customer data on their data centers while hosting the application on cloud ensuring that their client data is fully secure, this arrangement is cost-effective and enables seamless business operations. In parallel to this, the application takes full advantage of the cloud technology in terms of scaling up or down depending on business needs ascertaining a win-win situation for enterprises. Furthermore, it also offers businesses the flexibility to make changes to the application at any given point in time, as it is essential to keep applications updated and flexible.

If you would like to know more about the Hybrid cloud and its advantages please refer to our earlier blog

Why hybrid is the preferred strategy for all your cloud needs

Let us look at the three most significant IT debts in today’s time and how the cloud acts as a solution to manage and control them.

Infrastructure Debt

Infrastructure must routinely be updated with new software releases to ensure known vulnerabilities are eliminated. When a device and its software are no longer in support, liabilities, as well as disparities, become exceedingly difficult and expensive to mitigate. Cloud helps manage such discrepancies, saves you from having to upgrade and replace your infrastructure periodically and also having to regularly manage software patches, scaling, distribution, and resiliency of the platforms supporting your applications and data unless your business requires complete control over the operating system required to run your applications. Lift and shift is the fastest and easiest way to cloud-based technical debt solutions, however, to derive maximum benefits from the same, organizations need to sometimes opt for PaaS offerings as well. 

Architectural and Design Debt

Cloud can redefine the way software and services are being delivered to your customers with the help of services like, 

Containers and microservices

Containers and microservices are the keys to driving innovation within organizations, especially if you have numerous customer-facing applications and services. The microservice architecture enables hassle-free and continuous software delivery with increased business agility. Containers are a repository that holds your applications, configurations, and OS dependencies in one lightweight bundle that’s easier to deploy and faster to provision. Containers help organizations to efficiently manage their applications with automated techniques. Additionally, the core of container services is open-sourced thus also enabling you to keep your budgets in check.

DNS

DNS or domain name system is often not given enough weightage but they play a huge role in aggregating multiple technologies, enabling quick response times and making sure everything runs smoothly all around your infrastructure.

Cloud technologies demand high API call rates, tasks like auto-scaling, spinning up new instances, and traffic automation for optimization. The traditional DNS servers might not be capable of supporting its fast-paced infrastructure. So teams must ensure that the necessary infrastructure requirements are met by these DNS platforms to ensure smoother operations.

Process Debt

Often, overheads in terms of technical and architectural analysis, code reviews, testing, and release management processes are not taken much into account, and these can lead to significant problems in any business environment. These factors can trap organizations in a legacy cycle and restrict them from implementing new processes. 

With cloud solutions, management teams are able to identify what suits them best as per their needs while also comprehending how new remediation processes should be accurately introduced and followed by development teams.

Clear visibility of your IT infrastructure usage patterns would mean that policies are in place which in turn would ensure consistency in monitoring, logging, and tracing activities along with streamlining the performance metrics and process telemetry.

Services like IAC (Infrastructure-as-Code) and configuration management tools help completely automate processes and minimize bottlenecks in your code delivery empowering engineers to focus on delivering business value. 

Conclusion

As per studies, over 95% of organizations plan to increase their cloud spends by the end of 2021 as the need for matured cloud platforms and technologies have become vital. There has been a significant surge in the demand for cloud even if the initial cloud set-up costs seem high and unwarranted. 

Organizations are beginning to understand that initial investment in cloud infrastructure and services, costs incurred from acquiring data center management tools as well as from hiring cloud-specialized resources apart from support and maintenance costs are actually worthwhile as the benefits derived from it are everlasting. 

Despite the heavy investments at the beginning, setting up a cloud environment is still considered the best trade-off and the most economical option of all. This is mainly because it drastically cuts down on daily operational expenses, keeps the systems up-to-date thus improving the uptime and efficiency of business while minimizing technical debts.

Advancements in the cloud space will always be an ongoing process that would call for continuous optimization of systems to enable organizations to progress towards innovation and modernization.

Top 10 Cloud Trends Post Pandemic

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By Vinay Kalyan Parakala, SVP – Global Sales (Cloud Practice), LTI

The cloud computing market has experienced an exponential growth in the recent years and with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the cloud sector is witnessing a rapid and sizeable growth, estimating to almost USD 165 billion as against the pre Covid estimate of USD 158 billion for the current financial year.

With a significant hike in the technology spend, the global cloud computing market is expected to witness a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.5% by 2025.

The onset of Covid-19 has compelled organizations to embrace work from home policies on a large scale increasing the demand for SaaS, IaaS and PaaS based cloud collaborated solutions. A surge in the usage of business communication tools, online streaming platforms and increased registered users on cloud has led to an upward and emerging cloud trend. 

Let us look at some of the cloud predictions that have enabled enterprises to provision for their employees and be better equipped in maintaining operational efficiency in the current pandemic situation.

1. Rise in Cloud Telephony

The cloud telephony market is projected to grow by 8.9% in 2020 and 17.8% in 2021. A notable development in the areas of cloud telephony, telecommunication services, network infrastructure, video conferencing and VPN has been observed since the pandemic has set in. Globally, a rise in the number of call centers, fast paced migration of companies to cloud and the benefits of cost efficient cloud services have also increased the demand for cloud telephony services. 

Gartner states, “As a result of workers employing remote work practices in response to COVID-19 office closures, there will be some long-term shifts in conferencing solution usage patterns. Policies established to enable remote work and experience gained with conferencing service usage during the outbreak is anticipated to have a lasting impact on collaboration adoption.” If you are looking at remote workforce facilitation, here’s a link to our solutions.

COVID-19 Initiatives

Remote Workforce Enablement

2. Increased adoption of virtual desktops

Forrester predicts the number of remote workers at the end of 2021 will be 3x of the pre-pandemic figures. Due to the increase in the demand for remote working, we expect to see a rise in organizations turning to Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) options in 2021 to allow for the secure access of data that is off corporate networks, from any device. DaaS technology will allow organizations to meet the demands of remote work better, by quickly provisioning secure virtual desktops for employees and contractors alike, that can be deleted if compromised.

Research shows that Microsoft is not the only provider looking up to the desktop as a means of connecting to the cloud. By the same token, all of the key cloud vendors are interested in the virtual desktop market. Moreover, with the popular Windows 7 OS reaching the end of life in January 2020, indicates that 2019 will be a year of transition. And the years 2021 and 2022 will bring their own techs. My own question is; are people willing to just jump to Windows 10 and thus cement Microsoft’s hold? Or will they accept things such as AWS WorkSpaces or Google Chromebooks that are fast rising? If you are looking at adopting DaaS, here’s a link to our services.

Virtual Desktop Environment

3. Multi-cloud management

With the uncertainty of the pandemic and the constant pressure on organizations to continually provide business flexibility and acceleration, there is an urgent need to evaluate appropriate cloud set-up for appropriate workloads. 

 50% of Indian enterprises are expected to operate in a hybrid multi-cloud environment by 2021 and 30% of Indian enterprises will deploy unified VMs, Kubernetes, and multi-cloud management processes and tools to support robust multi-cloud management across on-premises and public clouds.: IDC. Multi-cloud environments help facilitate better data control, data availability, prevent outages, gain agility, security and governance. For more detailed information, do visit our multi-cloud one governance platform.

Feature

4. Focus on the “Xops”

By 2021, AI will play an essential role in augmenting DevOps while monitoring and improving conventional IT operations like optimizing test cases, application development, release management, ticket management . The Markets and Markets report on the DevSecOps Global Forecast suggests that the DevSecOps market size is expected to grow to USD 5.9 billion by 2023. 

With 65% of organizations expected to adopt DevOps as a mainstream strategy by this year, 2020 is expected to witness developers leaning towards the compliance-as-a-code service with the main objective of DevOps being security. Security measures are introduced early on in the inception phase of the  SDLC cycle using the shift-left strategy, which ensure that the threats are identified in the beginning itself, helping in cutting down costs related to security issue fixes. This encourages businesses to instill security as a continuous integration and delivery practice while collaborating with the development, operations and security teams more efficiently. If you wish to explore our DevOps capabilities, here’s a link to our solutions. 

Cloud Native and DevOps

5. Pervasiveness of AI 

By 2022, 65 percent of CIOs will digitally empower and enable front-line workers with data, AI, and security to extend their productivity, adaptability, and decision-making in the face of rapid change.

By 2023, driven by the goal to embed human-like intelligence into products and services, one-quarter of G2000 companies will acquire at least one AI software start-up to ensure ownership and implementation of differentiated skills and IP. Successful organizations will eventually sell internally developed industry-specific software and data services as a subscription, leveraging deep domain knowledge to open profitable new revenue streams.

AI in data centers

AI in data centers will see a peak in the coming years. The IDC forecasts that by the year 2021, AI spending will grow to US$52.2 billion with a total CAGR increase of 46.2 percent from 2016-2021.

The use of AI in data centers will serve multiple purposes like automating tasks, enhancing security, eliminating skill shortage issues and improving workload distribution. AI resources can also assist enterprises to become more competent using their past data to have productive conclusions. For better understanding of our AI and automation solutions, please visit:

Digital Platform

Botzer.io

Digital Transformation

6. Serverless computing

25% of developers will leverage serverless services by 2021. Gartner also stated the rise of serverless computing, marking the increase by approx. 20 percent of global enterprises.

A 2020 DataDog survey indicated that over 50% of AWS users are now using the serverless AWS Lambda Function as a Service (FaaS). Serverless technologies are going mainstream letting organizations experience better scalability, flexibility and improved latency at a reasonable price. For more insight on our serverless computing services, do visit the below link.

Digital Transformation

7. Focus on the Hybrid cloud

It is believed that adopting multi-cloud solutions especially in the current pandemic situation will help organizations support their customer base, boost recovery management and build precision and flexibility in the new normal. A research depicts that the hybrid cloud market will grow to $97.6 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 17 percent. 

Hybrid cloud solutions support technological advancements to the maximum that eases smooth business operations apart from providing agility, security and efficiency irrespective of the unforeseen circumstances.

Studies show that AWS and Google are committed to increasing their focus on Hybrid cloud solutions where security will remain as the key driver for a hybrid cloud set-up. Hybrid cloud is trusted to be the future of IT in the covid scenario. If you are looking at achieving a candid hybrid environment, here’s a link to our services.

AWS Outposts

Enterprise Migration

8. Mainstreaming Containers and Kubernetes

Prior to the pandemic, about 20% of developers regularly used container and serverless functions to build new apps and modernize old ones. We predict nearly 30% will use containers regularly by the end of 2021, creating a spike in global demand for both multi-cloud container development platforms and public-cloud container/serverless services. 

The IDC predicts that along with Kubernetes, 95 percent more new-micro services will be deployed in the containers by 2021. 

Forrester forecasts that lightweight Kubernetes deployments will end up accounting for 20% of edge orchestration in 2021. If you are looking for containerization of workloads, here’s a link to our solutions. 

Cloud Native

9. Moving DR from on-premise to cloud

COVID-19 has vividly impacted and caught almost every organization off-guard when it comes to securing infrastructure and data or handling storage and recovery from a data center outage, etc.  Directing the enterprise IT teams’ focus on shaping a business continuity plan, analyzing business impact, planning and building infrastructure that supports DR to gain resiliency are some important aspects of establishing a robust DR shift from on-premise to cloud. 

Before the pandemic, few companies protected data and workloads in the public cloud but by 2021, an additional 20% of enterprises will be shifting their DR operations to the public cloud undoubtedly. If you are looking for backup and DR on cloud, here’s a link to our solutions. 

Backup and DR on Cloud

10. Manage technical debt

By 2023, coping with technical debt accumulated during the pandemic will shadow 70% of CIOs, causing financial stress, inertial drag on IT agility, and “forced march” migrations to the cloud.

In the current scenario, with the remote work set-up, the need for consorting with collaborative tools and speedy deliverables is on a rise and the best way to provide value to customers is by provisioning for better requirements and design management practices, upscaling cloud architecture to meet current needs, adopting devops and automation and re-strategizing software development practices. 

If technical debts already exist for a particular enterprise, the first step would be to acknowledge and address it while taking lasting measures to remediate the same. Teams can even measure technical debts through metrics in order to arrive at best possible repayment solutions and gradually derive a best practices knowledge base out of it.

Thus, the cloud computing markets, both domestic and global, are combating hard to not just overcome and resolve the challenges arising from the pandemic but are also striving at emerging as clear winners despite the turmoil it has caused. If you are looking for cost-effective technical debts remediation, here’s a link to our solutions. 

Cloud IaaS

Simplify Cloud Transformation with Tools

By | CS, Powerlearnings | No Comments

Compiled by Kiran Kumar, Business Analyst at Powerup Cloud Technologies

Introduction

Cloud can bring a lot of benefits to organizations including operational resilience, business agility, cost-efficiency, scalability as well as staff productivity. However moving to cloud can be a task with so many loose ends to worry about like downtime, security, and cost etc. Even some of the top cloud teams can be left clueless and overwhelmed by the scale of the project and decisions that need to be taken. 

But the cloud marketplace has matured greatly and there are a lot of tools and solutions that can help you automate or assist you in your expedition. These solutions can significantly reduce the complexity of the project. Knowing the value cloud tools bring to your organization. I have listed down tools that can assist you in each phase of your cloud journey have been said that this blog just serves as a representation of the type of products and services that are available for easy cloud transformation.

Cloud Assessment

RapidAdopt

LTI RapidAdopt helps you fast track adoption of various cloud models. Based on the overall scores, the accurate Cloud strategy is formulated The Cloud Assessment Framework enables organizations to assess their cloud readiness roadmap.

SurPaaS® Assess™

Is a complete Cloud migration feasibility assessment platform that generates multiple reports after analyzing your application to help you understand the factors involved in migrating your application to the Cloud. These reports help you to decide on your ideal Cloud migration plan and help you accelerate your Cloud Journey

Cloudamize

Make data-driven cloud decisions with confidence using high-precision analytics and powerful automation make planning simple and efficient, accelerating your migration to the cloud.

Cloud Recon

Inventory applications and workloads to develop a cloud strategy with detailed ROI and TCO benefits.

NetApp Cloud Assessment Tool

The Cloud Assessment tool will monitor your cloud storage resources, optimize cloud efficiency and data protection, identify cost-saving opportunities, and reduce overall storage spend so you can manage your cloud with confidence.

Risc Networks

RISC Networks’ breakthrough SaaS-based analytics platform helps companies chart the most efficient and effective path from on-premise to the cloud.

Migvisor

With migVisor, you’ll know exactly how difficult (or easy) your database migration will be. migVisor analyzes your source database configuration, attributes, schema objects, and proprietary features

Migration

SurPaaS® Migrate™

with its advanced Cloud migration methodologies, enables you to migrate any application to the Cloud without any difficulty. It provides you with various intelligent options for migrating applications/VMs to the Cloud. robust migration methodologies allow you to migrate multiple servers in parallel with clear actionable reporting in case of any migration issues.

SurPaaS® Smart Shift™

Smart Shift™ migrates an application to Cloud with a re-architected deployment topology based on different business needs such as scalability, performance, security, redundancy, high availability, backup, etc.

SurPaaS® PaaSify™

Is the only Cloud migration platform that lets you migrate any application and its databases to required PaaS services on Cloud. Choose different PaaS services for different workloads available in your application and migrate to Cloud with a single click. 

CloudEndure

simplifies, expedites, and automates migrations from physical, virtual, and cloud-based infrastructure to AWS.

SurPaaS® Containerize™

allows you to identify application workloads that are compatible with containerization using its comprehensive knowledge base system. Choose workloads that need to be containerized and select any one of the topologies from SurPaaS® multiple container deployment architecture suggestions

Carbonite Migrate

Structured, repeatable data migration from any source to any target with near zero data loss and no disruption in service.

AWS Database Migration Service

AWS Database Migration Service helps you migrate databases to AWS quickly and securely. The source database remains fully operational during the migration, minimizing downtime to applications that rely on the database.

Azure Migrate

A central hub of Azure cloud migration services and tools to discover, assess and migrate workloads to the cloud

Cloud Sync

An easy to use cloud replication and synchronization service for transferring NAS data between on-premises and cloud object stores.

MigrationWiz

Migrate multiple cloud workloads with a single solution. MigrationWiz—the industry-leading SaaS solution—enables you to migrate email and data from a wide range of Sources and Destinations.

Cloud Pilot

Analyze applications at the code level to determine Cloud readiness and conduct migrations for Cloud-ready applications.

Paasify

PaaSify is an advanced solution, which runs through the application code, and evaluates the migration of apps to cloud. The solution analyzes the code across 70+ parameters, including session objects, third-party dependencies, authentication, database connections, and hard-coded links.

Application Development

DevOps on AWS

Amazon Elastic Container Service

Production Docker Platform

AWS Lambda

Serverless Computing

AWS CloudFormation

Templated Infrastructure Provisioning

AWS OpsWorks   

Chef Configuration Management

AWS Systems Manager

Configuration Management

AWS Config

Policy as Code

Amazon CloudWatch

Cloud and Network Monitoring

AWS X-Ray

Distributed Tracing

AWS CloudTrail

Activity & API Usage Tracking

AWS Elastic Beanstalk

Run and Manage Web Apps

AWS CodeCommit

Private Git Hosting

Azure DevOps service

Azure Boards

Deliver value to your users faster using proven agile tools to plan, track, and discuss work across your teams.

Azure Pipelines

Build, test, and deploy with CI/CD which works with any language, platform, and cloud. Connect to GitHub or any other Git provider and deploy continuously.

Azure Repos

Get unlimited, cloud-hosted private Git repos and collaborate to build better code with pull requests and advanced file management.

Azure Test Plans

Test and ship with confidence using manual and exploratory testing tools.

Azure Artifacts

Create, host, and share packages with your team and add artifacts to your CI/CD pipelines with a single click.

Kubernetes

Kubernetes is an open-source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications.

Infrastructure Monitoring & Optimization

SurPaaS® Optimo™

Realizing Continuous Cloud Landscape Optimization, with AI-driven advisories and Integrated Cloud management actions to reduce your Cloud costs.

Carbonite Availability

continuous replication technology maintains an up-to-date copy of your operating environment without taxing the primary system or network bandwidth.

Splunk

Embrace AIOps for the technical agility, speed and capacity needed to manage today’s complex environments.

Cloud Insights

With Cloud Insights, you can monitor, troubleshoot and optimize all your resources including your public clouds and your private data centers.

TrueSight Operations Management

Machine learning and advanced analytics for holistic monitoring and event management

BMC Helix Optimize

SaaS solution that deploys analytics to continuously optimize resource capacity and cost

Azure Monitor 

Azure Monitor collects monitoring telemetry from a variety of on-premises and Azure sources. Management tools, such as those in Azure Security Center and Azure Automation, also push log data to Azure Monitor.

Amazon CloudWatch

CloudWatch collects monitoring and operational data in the form of logs, metrics, and events, providing you with a unified view of AWS resources, applications, and services that run on AWS and on-premises servers.

TrueSight Orchestration

Coordinate workflows across applications, platforms, and tools to automate critical IT processes

BMC Helix Remediate

Automated security vulnerability management and simplified patching for hybrid clouds

BMC Helix Discovery

Automatic discovery of data center and multi-cloud inventory, configuration, and relationship data

Cloud Manager  

Cloud Manager provides IT experts and cloud architects with a centralized control plane to manage, monitor and automate data in hybrid-cloud environments, providing an integrated experience of NetApp’s Cloud Data Services.

Application Management

SurPaaS® Operato™

Visualize Application Landscape on the Cloud and effectively manage with ease using multiple options to enhance your applications.

SurPaaS® Moderno™

SurPaaS® can quickly assess your applications and offers a path to move your workloads within hours to DBaaS, Serverless App Services, Containers, and Kubernetes Services.

SurPaaS® SaaSify™

Faster and Smarter Way to SaaS. SaaSify your Applications and Manage their SaaS Operations Efficiently.

Dynatrace

Best-in-class APM from the category leader. Advanced observability across cloud and hybrid environments, from microservices to mainframe. Automatic full-stack instrumentation, dependency mapping and AI-assisted answers detailing the precise root-cause of anomalies, eliminating redundant manual work, and letting you focus on what matters. 

New Relic APM

APM agents give real-time observability matched with trending data about your application’s performance and the user experience. Agents reveal what is happening deep in your code with end to end transaction tracing and a variety of color-coded charts and reports.

DataDog APM

Datadog APM provides end-to-end distributed tracing from frontend devices to databases—with no sampling. Distributed traces correlate seamlessly with metrics, logs, browser sessions, code profiles, synthetics, and network performance data, so you can understand service dependencies, reduce latency, eliminate errors, 

SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor 

End-To-End Monitoring

Server capacity planning 

Custom app monitoring 

Application dependency mapping 

AppDynamics

Actively monitor, analyze and optimize complex application environments at scale.

DB DR

Carbonite Recover

Carbonite® Recover reduces the risk of unplanned downtime by securely replicating critical systems to the cloud, providing an up-to-date copy for immediate failover

Carbonite Server

All-in-one backup and recovery solution for physical, virtual and legacy systems with optional cloud failover.

Carbonite Availability

Continuous replication for physical, virtual and cloud workloads with push-button failover for keeping critical systems online all the time.

Cloud Backup Service

Cloud Backup Service delivers seamless and cost-effective backup and restore capabilities for protecting and archiving data.

CloudEndure

Scalable, cost-effective business continuity for physical, virtual, and cloud servers

Zerto

Reduce cost and complexity of application migrations and data protection with Zerto’s unique platform utilizing Continuous Data Protection. Orchestration built into the platform enables full automation of recovery and migration processes. Analytics provides 24/7 infrastructure visibility and control, even across clouds.

Azure Site Recovery

 Site Recovery helps ensure business continuity by keeping business apps and workloads running during outages. Site Recovery replicates workloads running on physical and virtual machines (VMs) from a primary site to a secondary location

Cloud Governance and security

CloudHealth Multicloud Platform

Transform the way you operate in the public cloud

CloudHealth Partner Platform

Deliver managed services to your customers at scale

CloudHealth Secure State

Mitigate security and compliance risk with real-time security insights

Cloud Compliance

Automated controls for data privacy regulations such as the GDPR, CCPA, and more. Driven by powerful artificial intelligence algorithms,

Azure Governance Tools

Get transparency into what you are spending on cloud resources. Set policies across resources and monitor compliance enabling quick, repeatable creation of governed environments

Splunk

Splunk Security Operations Suite combines industry-leading data, analytics and operations solutions to modernize and optimize your cyber defenses.

CloudEnsure

An autonomous cloud governance platform that is built to manage multi cloud environment It performs real time well architected audit on all your cloud, giving you a comprehensive view of best practices adherence in your cloud environment with additional emphasis on security, reliability and cost.The enterprise version of Cloud Ensure, the hosted version of the original SaaS platform, is best suited for organizations wanting to have in-house governance and monitoring of their cloud portfolio. 

11-Point Cloud Plan To Tackle The Covid-19 Economy

By | Cloud, Cloud Assessment, CS, News | No Comments

Siva S Founder & CEO – Powerupcloud Technologies

The Covid-19 virus pandemic has changed a lot of things forever or at least that should be our best assumption now. As Sequoia quotes, this is the Black Swan of 2020 which may very well extend into most of 2021. While some are still trying to understand the impact this will have on the global economy, we need to make up our minds and accept that this is here to stay for a longer period. I find a lot of merit in the endgame possibilities of the Covid-19 virus highlighted in an article by The Atlantic. Of the 3 possible endgame scenarios, the best option sounds like this – “the world plays a protracted game of whack-a-mole with the virus, stamping out outbreaks here and there until a vaccine can be produced.”

As the CEO of Powerupcloud – a global leader in cloud consulting space and the global cloud practice head of LTI – one of the largest technology solutions and services providers in the world, I interact with several CIOs, Business Leaders, and Technologists on a daily basis and I am privy to the thought process and technology decisions being made by these global enterprise businesses in this period of volatility.

Having strategic conversations with more than 50 top CEOs, CIOs, Business Leaders of Fortune500 companies and public cloud OEMs, I am convinced that at no other point in time has there ever been such a need for the instant availability of technology than now. And the public cloud has emerged as the biggest enabler during these uncertain times. If you are an organization that is still considering the move to the cloud, stop procrastinating and start your cloud adoption process immediately. With the fast-changing economic scenario, you need to act fast and act now.

The 11-Point Cloud Plan for Covid-19 Pandemic Economy

 

These discussions with CIOs and Cloud Leaders have helped me to build the 11-Point Cloud Plan on how enterprises should prioritize and execute their cloud adoption & optimization plan over the next 3 months (ultra short term) and the next 12 months (short term). This is not the time for drafting a 3-year or a 5-year plan as we are not sure of the outcome even after the next 12 months. And if you are in the middle of executing such plans, please stop and revisit your priorities immediately.

The 11-Point Cloud Plan has 3 purpose tracks.

A. Business Continuity Planning

B. Cost Savings on Cloud

C. Short Term Cloud Initiatives

A. BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLANNING

With more and more enterprises moving to a remote working model where employees connect from home, I see that a good amount these businesses are grappling with a viable business continuity design which will allow them to continue their operations. Remember, keeping your business moving is the best outcome the world economy needs today.

There are 5 key areas which the organizations are adopting on the cloud to support their business continuity. I have prioritized them based on the feedback we received from the market.

  1. Virtual Contact Center on Cloud – Employees doing ‘work from home’ are struggling with their traditional contact center software which doesn’t allow them to answer customer support calls effectively. Cloud-based Amazon Connect allows you to bring up a virtual contact center in just 45 minutes and with an additional 8 hours effort, you can also automate the customer care responses by integrating Amazon AI services like Amazon Lex & Amazon Polly.
  2. Virtual Desktops on Cloud – Another major request coming in from companies with remote employees is the virtual desktop solution. Both Microsoft Azure’s Windows Virtual Desktop and Amazon Workspaces are sought after technology offerings on the cloud which solves this problem. You can launch these virtual desktop solutions using automated templates for 1000s of employees in matter of hours.
  3. Support Chatbots on Cloud – Be it customer support or internal employee support, there is no better time to be proactive in responding to their queries. Chatbots enables an organization to route at least 50% of the customer queries away from customer support agents. Cloud technologies like Google Cloud’s DialogFlow, Amazon Lex, Amazon Polly, Microsoft Bot Framework, Azure QnA Maker, Microsoft Luis helps in designing your chatbots. Powerup’s Botzer platform also helps you in integrating with the above-mentioned cloud APIs and launch & manage your chatbots in a day.
  4. Risk Modeling on Cloud – Several organizations in industries like Insurance, Stock Trading, Banking, Pharma, Life Sciences, Retail, FMCG are running their risk modeling algorithms on an almost daily basis to reassess their risk in the current market scenario. This requires additional compute power (Amazon EMR, Azure HDInsight, Google Dataproc and machine learning platforms (Google Cloud AutoML, Amazon Sagemaker, AzureML) on the cloud.
  5. Governance & Security on Cloud – For organizations with a lot of applications on cloud, governance, and security becomes a tricky part to handle given that most of their employees are connecting from home. Cloud Governance Products like Powerup’s CloudEnsure.io helps organizations to enforce a zero-defect security model across their multi-cloud environments and ensures that the security vulnerabilities are addressed in real-time.

B. COST SAVINGS ON CLOUD

6. Cost Optimization on Cloud – We will witness a spending crunch by a lot of organizations across industries and IT departments in these organizations will come under severe pressure to reduce their cloud costs. From our experience in helping a lot of organizations reduce their cloud spend, I have identified 6 key methods using which you can save cloud costs.

  • Downsize your cloud resources and plan your cloud inventory to the bare minimum that is required to run your business.
  • Shutdown unused cloud resources and free up storage & network. This might require you to revisit your new initiatives and data retention policies.
  • Adopt reserved instances pricing model for a 1-year or 3-year period which will allow you to save up to 60% on your compute spend.
  • Explore spot instances for at least 50% of your cloud workloads which will help you reduce your cloud spend by 80% for the workloads where spot instances are enabled.
  • Explore containerization for a minimum 1/3rd of your large applications on the cloud which will help you save up to 75% on your compute spend.
  • Schedule your non-production instances/servers to start and stop on a daily basis which can help you save almost 50% of your server compute bills.
  • Intelligent tiering of objects stored on Amazon S3 or Azure Blob to lower storage tiers will help you save a lot of storage costs. Amazon S3 Intelligent Tiering and Azure’s Archival/Cold storage options can be leveraged to save costs.
  • Explore the possibilities of moving some of the workloads to other cloud platforms where variable pricing is possible. This can also help you save costs. For eg: some companies leverage flexible hardware configuration options of Google Cloud.
  • Migrate your applications and databases from enterprise licensed platforms to open-source platforms. Eg: migrating from Redhat Linux to Amazon Linux or from Oracle database to PostgreSQL.
  • Finally, it comes to the good old Excel sheets. The old school way of analyzing cloud usage and billing data by experienced cloud architects cannot be matched by cloud cost analytics tools. Roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty if it comes to that.

Powerup’s CloudEnsure.io has tailored modules that help organizations track their cloud spend by departments, applications, users, etc and help them with a detailed (resource level) cost optimization plan for their cloud environment.

C. SHORT TERM CLOUD INITIATIVES

Now that the long-term initiatives by organizations will go under the scanner and potentially recalibrated to suit the larger financial goal of the organization, there are still a lot of things that the organizations can do in the short-term to help them prepare themselves for the next 12-18 months. These ‘Short Term Initiatives’ are designed to help you make measured but important progress in your cloud adoption journey and will fit very well into your long-term plan when the situation gets better.

I have listed 5 key short-term initiatives that are being adopted by several medium and large enterprises across industries globally.

7. Data Lake on Cloud – It is during these times, several organizations realize that they don’t have enough hold on their data to make some critical business decisions. They see that their data is spread across various applications, in various formats and in various database technologies which restricts them from correlating the data and gain valuable insights. A centralized Data Lake on the cloud solves this problem. You can launch a full-fledged Data Lake that can be built in less than 60 days using cloud-native data lake technologies (Amazon Redshift, Azure DataLake) or some leading 3rd party data platforms like Snowflake or Databricks. It is the best time to start building your organization’s central data lake on the cloud if you don’t have one.

8. Fast-Track Application Development on Cloud – These uncertain times requires organizations to try new business models and introduce new processes to handle their business. I see large banks building specialized apps for payment holidays on buy-to-let mortgages in record time. And I am sure you might have similar requirements for building specialized workflow-based apps. Cloud is the best place to build these apps in a very short period of time and if you use serverless functions like Amazon Lambda, Microsoft Functions, it will help in less overhead in managing the availability of these apps. Please remember, managerial bandwidth is super key in the coming days and you should plan to free up your employees’ time for high priority tasks.

9. Outsource Cloud Managed Services – Cloud support or managed services is a human capital intensive division of IT departments and it is the right time to outsource the managed services scope to cloud partners like Powerup who can deliver the cloud support in a shared capacity model. This would greatly reduce your human capital overhead cost in managing your cloud environment.

10. Move Critical Applications to Cloud – Large scale enterprise data center migrations will help you to move to an OPEX model and reduces the stress on the cash flow which is highly recommended given the volatile economic outlook for the next 2 years. But the best way to begin this is by looking at your business-critical applications and migrate them to the cloud. This will allow you to migrate in a phased manner to the cloud within the next 12 months. Please don’t consider the big-bang cloud migration approach for the next 12 months. Conserving cash and spending them in a planned manner is going to be key for any business to survive.

11. DevOps Automation on Cloud – DevOps process automation is another key aspect that the companies are executing to reduce the dependency on their technical resources. ‘Work from home’ model has its own challenges w.r.to coordination, network connectivity, etc which leads to highly delayed DevOps deployments. This might be the right time for you to look at automating your DevOps process for your applications running on the cloud or in your on-premise setup.

Conclusion

Like I mentioned earlier, the 11-Point Cloud Plan was devised based on the market observations and feedback from our global enterprise customers. Will the plan change in the near term? Absolutely Yes. But for now, this seems to be the best bet for us. This 11-Point Cloud Plan should get you started thinking/acting in the right direction and trust me this will help you follow the footsteps of several leading organizations in today’s economic scenario caused by Covid-19 pandemic. The plan will continue to evolve and I will keep this updated as I learn more from our partners and customers.

Stay safe with your loved ones.

Take care of the community around you.

And keep the business rolling.