The Digital Architecture for Tomorrow’s Business Growth
- By Paul Mah
- January 22, 2024
Megatrends of hyperconnectivity, digital fabrics, and cloud infrastructure are shaping today’s enterprises. Digital-first organizations are looking to grow new revenue streams by creating richer, real-time experiences whilst enabling critical architectures to support a strong security posture and a productive workforce.
At the recent invite-only lunch event “The Digital Architecture for Tomorrow’s Business Growth”, hosted by CDOTrends and supported by Telstra and Equinix, executives and senior IT decision-makers discussed how to get hybrid cloud strategy right in the digital era.
As recently as five years ago, some organizations were still questioning whether the cloud is safe, scalable, or suitable for production workloads, observed Stanley Chan, Senior Director, Digital Sales APAC, Equinix. This is no longer the case today, he said, and the public cloud is usually the default option in the absence of external limiters such as legacy systems, security considerations, or cost.
Getting the fit right
While the cloud is here to stay, the public cloud is not necessarily suitable for every deployment scenario. For many, a hybrid cloud strategy makes more sense, according to Chan, who cited two customers to illustrate his point: One that is in the process of migrating its systems to the cloud, and another that is working on cloud repatriation.
The first customer was compelled to digitalize and move to the cloud to keep up with its ecosystem customers. While keen to embrace the cloud, it was also straddled with legacy systems in the form of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and a Manufacturing Execution System (MES).
With the old ERP and MES systems keeping it from doing a lift and shift to the public cloud, it opted for a hybrid cloud deployment where new applications are developed on Azure while legacy systems were redeployed unmodified with the assistance of partners such as Equinix.
The second customer was a mid-sized media and entertainment company that had gone all-in with the public cloud. While it wanted to expand across the Asia Pacific and serve more customers, its aspirations were tempered by a hefty monthly cloud bill of USD200,000.
“We are working with them to cost optimize and to figure out the right long-term [hybrid cloud] strategy. They are working with partners like Telstra to deliver that customer experience to the last mile,” explained Chan.
Build with business objectives in mind
The ideal deployment is achieved by delivering the right level of experience while keeping costs under control, according to Sumeet Kumar, Head of Cloud Services, South Asia, Telstra International. And bigger doesn’t always mean better.
“A small private cloud sitting at the edge could be as effective as the one that is sitting on the big infrastructure within a data center, primarily because you are providing that customer experience to your end-consumer where it is needed,” said Kumar, who says enterprises must first consider a plethora of inter-related considerations.
“It’s not just about having the right architecture, but ensuring that costs are adhered to, that there is a good return on investment. If we keep our views siloed to metrics such as the capital expenditure or using a rigid one-year timeframe, we will never get started with a hybrid cloud deployment.”
Finally, whether a hybrid cloud deployment is managed in-house or outsourced is important too, as is fully utilizing its capabilities. “The capabilities that the cloud brings are of no use if you are not utilizing them. Are we still asking engineers to manually spin up the environment instead of using a Terraform script?”
Mindset shift needed
For Serder Arican, Cloud Infrastructure Architecture, Asia, at VMware by Broadcom, a successful cloud deployment starts with the correct mindset. Indeed, he notes that organizations that deploy in the cloud with a traditional infrastructure approach “will only result in a lot of repatriation”.
Moreover, organizations typically underestimate the amount of change required for a cloud deployment. Arican said: “App modernization is just one aspect to consider. We need to have a unified approach, bringing the hybrid cloud into the picture, as well as the multiple blueprints that you might have in the public cloud.”
Arican suggested holding team members directly responsible for the success of cloud projects. “I see a lot of projects, where everyone involved is attending the meetings, they are listening, learning, and building something new. But then it becomes someone else's problem because they are not ultimately responsible.”
When things go wrong
Who is ultimately responsible for ensuring that compatibility is maintained when migrating legacy systems to the cloud, a senior director of Digital Tech at a global firm asked during the panel discussion segment.
In response, Chan noted that a large migration project would typically see multiple partners working together. However, there is no running away from the fact that the customer will bear the brunt of any problem that may arise.
“All of us obviously need to be accountable based on which part of the technology stack we are bringing to the table. But the buck ultimately stops with the owner of the application,” said Chan.
Kumar agreed: “I can always say we will take accountability. But if something goes wrong, your business is the one that is going to be impacted… We can share the responsibility, but ownership remains with the customer from an accountability perspective.”
He cautioned against moving to the cloud just because everyone else is doing it. And any decision around moving legacy systems must be carefully considered on its own merits, and not the prevailing trend of the day.
“Would you get the same level of performance you require when you put it in the cloud? The cloud doesn’t automatically offer you security because public cloud providers will tell you to take care of your application stack. You are not passing any responsibility to anybody,” Kumar summed up.
Right-size, right-fit, right-locate
Many organizations accelerated their journey to the public cloud during the pandemic in response to the increased demand for remote working and digital workflows. However, this approach must take into account considerations such as cost, latency performance, and regulatory developments.
“Enterprises going digital require a hybrid cloud strategy. But every business is unique, and building the optimal technology stack requires careful planning and the right expertise. To support your business ambitions, you need to right-size, right-fit, and right-locate your digital infrastructure, as well as utilize your data asset,” said Dan Whitmarsh, Head of Telstra Purple and Technical Sales, Telstra International.
Learn how Telstra and Equinix can support your organization’s digital transformation and contact us here.
Image credit: iStockphoto/gorodenkoff