It’s no secret many companies are making a large push to the cloud. In 2019, International Data Corporation (IDC) released a worldwide study on cloud spending and revealed that “public cloud spending will grow from $229 billion in 2019 to nearly $500 billion in 2023.”
The study explained how enterprises (especially professional services, telecommunications and retail) are redesigning system architectures away from traditional on-premises systems to modern platforms built on cloud-native technologies, such as software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS). The study states that companies are making this move to “empower customer experience and operational-led digital transformation (DX) initiatives.”
There are many definitions of the term “cloud-native” available for interpretation. I would simplify the definition of cloud-native as a methodology of building and running applications in modern and dynamic environments in the cloud, such as containers, microservices, immutable infrastructure and declarative APIs. Cloud-native technologies allow organizations to build and run scalable applications in cloud environments such as public, private and hybrid.
Core principles of cloud-native include
- Using a microservices architecture approach
- Leveraging APIs to allow integration with an array of modern technologies, methodologies and architectural approaches
- Packaging microservices as containers – reachable and scalable
- Deploying infrastructure using a DevOps approach
- Delivering application features, functionality and fixes continuously
Although many leading companies are making the move to cloud-native architectures, many IT leaders and business executives are still hesitant due to concerns around areas such as data security and sovereignty, integration complexity and service downtime.
Taking the time to implement a cloud-native approach may well put you in a position to compete for a larger market share, improve your ROI and operational success. To help IT leaders eliminate these worries, I’ve listed my top 5 reasons why technology and business leaders should go all in on cloud.
1. Seamless Integration Empowers Innovation
Many large, established companies continue to use traditional on-premises systems that were put in place decades ago for customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), integration and file transfer. In addition, many companies are still using the legacy point-to-point method of integration that requires teams of expert developers to keep running. This is costly and time-consuming, slowing-down companies’ delivery of new solutions and dramatically impacting their ability to differentiate against the competition.
Innovative companies such as Netflix and Amazon are going “all in” using cloud-based integration platforms as a service (iPaaS) company-wide to quickly connect applications via APIs to increase the speed and efficiency of digital initiatives.
2. Pay Only for the Resources You Need
One of the benefits of cloud technologies is usage-based pricing where you only pay for the resources you need. With on-premises infrastructure, companies must purchase and maintain all hardware and software, requiring substantial capital outlay and workloads to “keep the lights on”. Activities such as software patches, server replacement, network security, cooling and cabling seem like small investments in time and money, but they add up quickly and impact an IT group’s ability to take on new projects. Cloud services take on these responsibilities enabling an organization to use its valuable IT resources on revenue-focused projects, not infrastructure.
3. Fast and Cost-Effective Scale
On-premises systems have a substantial amount of guesswork involved in determining how much resource capacity to build out in the early stages of a project when user demand is unpredictable. It is also very expensive to build data centers around the world and provide users with a low-latency, highly-responsive experience. With lack of visibility into consumption data, IT is frequently left in a challenging situation, scrambling to reduce or ramp quickly as demand fluctuates. The beauty of cloud services is that resources can be quickly increased or decreased for far less investment and unexpected swings in user traffic are much easier to handle. For example, a cloud-native managed file transfer (MFT) service, such as Thru, enables users to cost-effectively deploy file transfer workflows to multiple geographies and support millions of transactions without any IT involvement. The cloud handles the heavy lifting allowing companies to increase agility and efficiency.
4. Sophisticated Security Resources and Practices
One myth about cloud services is security is less sophisticated than on-premises. This simply isn’t true. Many cloud services can provide a much higher level of security than legacy technologies deployed on-premises. For example, Thru’s cloud-based platform was built from the ground up with a defense in depth architecture including enterprise-class security features such as end-to-end encryption, antivirus scanning, strict authentication and network monitoring.
5. Cloud and Microservices Are the Perfect Pair
As IT leaders develop new strategies to improve their companies’ digital initiatives, many are deciding to modernize application development using microservices. Microservices is an application design strategy of breaking down a monolithic application into smaller, loosely-coupled services that interoperate and communicate with each other via APIs.
Some of the benefits of using microservices-based applications are
- Continuous deployment – Microservices break software applications into smaller pieces to increase delivery speed, quality and scalability. Their size makes the tasks of design, development and testing easier and faster allowing continuous integration, testing, delivery and deployment.
- Easier development and maintenance – Microservices each have their own team of developers who focus on that particular functionality. With the right strategy in place, microservices can make application development simpler and less painful to test and deploy.
- Speed and Productivity – Applications are broken down into manageable services which are faster to develop.
- Flexibility and Scalability – Since services are completely decoupled, services may be written in different programs and can be added to the application separately from other services. As a result, microservices can be deployed in any cloud which saves developers from writing platform-specific code.
- Autonomy – Autonomy is a critical component of microservices, both architecturally and organizationally. The developers responsible for the microservice should be empowered to make technical decisions within their teams, increasing business agility, while having the freedom to evolve the microservice without impacting other services.
An informative article from Search Cloud Computing states, “although microservices-based applications do not require cloud services, microservices and cloud computing are ideal IT matches.” One reason cloud and microservices are the perfect pair is when it comes to tracking and managing the millions of “events” that fire back and forth between each service.
Use Case: Crocs Speeds Up File Transfer Integrations in the Cloud
An example of a company that is dramatically improving its business model with cloud technology is innovative footwear leader, Crocs. The company has been on a digital journey of replacing outdated, on-premises systems that slow down business processes with cloud applications and infrastructure that speed up software development and solution delivery. A cloud technology improving Crocs’ business processes with trading partners is Thru’s cloud-based MFT solution. With Thru, the company automates file transfer processes and is able to deliver new file transfer flows 8x faster than with its previous on-premises solution. The company also selected Thru because of our strong integration with MuleSoft, a cloud-based integration platform used to integrate data, applications and devices. For Crocs’ customer success story, read the case study.
Detailed Planning Is Essential to Avoid Pitfalls
A cloud-native mindset is critical in today’s current IT modernization business environment. The willingness to embrace a new way of architecting, building and deploying applications is essential to business scalability, innovation and agility. The three primary challenges when migrating from on-premises to cloud services are cultural change, complexity and training. These challenges can be managed with appropriate planning to focus your modernization strategy on technologies that will improve productivity and deliver on business objectives. Focusing on the most impactful technologies first allows you to build momentum and mindshare.
The choice of which applications to move (and not move) to the cloud should be based on a thorough analysis of your IT landscape. One of the most impactful technologies to migrate to the cloud is your file transfer infrastructure. Your most valuable IT assets are your employees. Migrating supporting infrastructure to the cloud enables developers to focus on innovation and customer focused projects versus keeping the lights on. As you build your modernization strategy and prioritize which technologies to move to the cloud, consider a modern, API-centric, cloud-native file transfer solution like Thru.
Thru is a cloud-native MFT service that enables secure file exchange and management of business-critical, sensitive or large-sized and high-volume data between internal lines of business and external partners. A no-code, simple to use, API-driven extension to iPaaS, the platform is a secure alternative to ad hoc file transfer solutions, such as FTP, and protects against inadvertent or malicious access to unsecured files at every step in the file transfer process.