Insights

Creating Competitive Advantage Through Cloud Agility

Cloud Agility Blog

By Sean Feeney

Cloud Engineering Practice Director

The unrelenting pace of business demands that companies operate in a constant state of flexibility. Indeed, the archaic five-year strategic plan has given way to the quarterly, or even weekly roadmap. If your tactics aren’t working, you pivot. If a competitor introduces a superior offering, you pivot. Change and rapid innovation is the currency of today’s technology-infused business landscape.

If you want to dominate markets, rapid innovation provides the means to capitalize on competitor weaknesses through flexible, scalable tactics that quickly adapt to customer needs.

Likewise, when you shift to the cloud from traditional data centers you’re creating technological advantage, which is the underpinning of business agility and future success.

Rapid innovation

Provisioning new physical servers in on-premise data centers can take days, weeks or even months while provisioning new infrastructure in the cloud can be accomplished in minutes. Additionally, cloud providers offer pay as you go pricing, significantly lowering your financial commitment and facilitating rapid, parallel experimentation. Colocation facilities and on-premise vendors often require a minimum financial commitment of three months for leased infrastructure, while some cloud services now offer 10-minute minimums and serverless brings the minimum commit down to 100ms.

Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure introduce new technologies and features every year to improve their services. Amazon Web Services introduced approximately 1,000 new features to its services in 2018 alone. Can your colocation provider say the same?

Flexibility and Scalability

Scaling in on-premise data centers requires planning for peak capacity for the next three to five years and purchasing the infrastructure to support them. Lease arrangements can reduce this planning cycle, but if demand exceeds planned capacity, new hardware requires weeks or months to procure and install, regardless of purchase or lease. Meanwhile, your users, and potentially revenue, suffer.

In contrast, cloud computing provides dynamic resource allocation to scale up or down resources to meet demand. Combined with the pay-per-use billing of the cloud, businesses can match their resource demands in the most cost-efficient manner possible. Combined with agile methodologies, infrastructure costs can grow as iteratively as the software does.

The inherent cost efficiencies and scalability of cloud computing has helped fuel the explosive growth of SaaS businesses in the past decade. With low startup costs and near-infinite capacity to match customer growth, software companies such as Salesforce, Zendesk and others have grown exponentially in recent years. Furthermore, the cloud’s low barrier to entry has made it easier for traditional software companies such as Adobe and Microsoft to offer light-weight, online versions of popular programs.

Additionally, the large cloud providers purchase tens of thousands of servers and benefit from economies of scale, which they regularly pass on to their customers.

For highly variable workloads (e.g., peak daytime loads, seasonal processing like student registration), businesses can sometimes save an average of 28 percent or more over on-premise infrastructure costs.

Frequently, teams leveraging on-premise data centers are constrained to a limited set of resources. If a new product enhancement enters the mix, teams must wait for development and test environments or both to be available before the new work or experimentation can begin. In the cloud, launching environments in parallel is self-service and straightforward. And since you’re only charged when you’re using the new resources, your costs can be minimized. Subsequently, the infrastructure no longer becomes an execution constraint in cloud environments.

Operational Efficiency

Cloud environments provide application programming interfaces (APIs) for accessibility, infrastructure automation, and management. These cloud APIs enables businesses to integrate business intelligence and analytics platforms, monitoring and alerting tools, and facilitates automatic provisioning or de-provisioning infrastructure to match customer demand. Some advantages of cloud environments over on-premise data centers include:

  • Repeatability: In the cloud, you can automate your infrastructure provisioning or de-provisioning (a.k.a. “Infrastructure as code”). Deployment automation code can be stored in source code and tested and deployed without human intervention. Fully automating deployments makes the process repeatable and predictable. In ideal cloud environments, people don’t deploy production infrastructure or applications — it’s all automated.
  • Improved Security Traceability: Infrastructure changes are automatically recorded, providing traceability into who made what changes when. This provides a key component in security audits, issue identification and resolution.
  • High-Availability: Well-architected cloud-native solutions are designed to automate failover across data centers providing real-time or near real-time disaster recovery for applications and databases. Configuring cross data center failover can be completed in minutes, whereas this is a massive undertaking for on-premise applications. If servers in one data center fail, cloud providers have services to automate the failover to another data center.

Benefits of Cloud Agility

Cloud environments provide tremendous benefits to business customers through:

  • Facilitating rapid experimentation and parallel testing paths
  • Quick time to market for applications
  • Automated scaling of resources up/down to meet demand
  • Customers only pay for the capacity that’s used
  • Improved security traceability
  • Repeatability
  • High availability

For companies in fast-moving industries, cloud computing solutions provide you with the flexibility and agility to adapt to hourly changes in customer demand across global markets, nascent competitors, and the ability to spin-up server capacity at a moments notice. Further, you’ll have more time to focus on growing your company when you’re not negotiating data center lease agreements or worrying about replacing obsolete, expensive capital equipment. Want to learn more about how Nerdery’s Cloud Services can help you create sustainable competitive advantage while driving long-term cost savings and simplifying your IT infrastructure? Let’s talk.

Published on 07.16.19