Cloud, in conjunction with edge, 5G, IoT, AI/ML and data and analytics, is the fundamental platform underlying organisations’ digital transformation needs, writes Sid Nag, VP Analyst at Gartner. Cloud providers must offer sophisticated cloud capabilities to help drive digital outcomes.

Just as organisations are on different stages of their cloud computing journey, cloud has been on its own evolutionary path. At its start, cloud computing was a technology disruptor, forcing a migration decision on organisations that formerly used on-premises and isolated computing technologies. After this initial disruption, cloud began to drive new areas of focus, such as robotic process automation, DevOps, machine learning, serverless function-based computing and hyperscale edge computing.

Subsequently cloud evolved to a value generator, allowing companies to deliver best-of-breed solutions to a wide range of customers. With subscription-based pricing, the cloud facilitates changes in contracts, usage patterns, customer experience and delivery channels for application capabilities, as well as continuous innovation and broader change. Taking advantage of new scenarios for monetisation and value generation justifies the movement to cloud and digital.

The final evolution of cloud computing is cloud as a business model disruptor, supporting scale for many business models in the digital era. For example, cloud helps scale digital cryptocurrencies and sustain edge digital scenarios such as drones or self-driving vehicles. The dynamic operating model of cloud – on-demand availability, scalable elasticity, and being service-based – has created an environment where technology can adapt to the ever-changing needs of the business.

When designing and optimising cloud solutions, product managers must focus on this final evolutionary stage of cloud computing. To do so, consider these five essential drivers of digital transformation. For each driver, ensure that cloud services offerings feature corresponding capabilities that support the evolution towards cloud as a business model disruptor.

Digital touchpoints

Digital touchpoints are the environment where end consumers directly interact with the services of a digital business. Services can be pushed from the cloud through the edge to the digital touchpoint.

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Within cloud services, digital touchpoints must be ready to use or assemble and they must enable experimental business moments. The interaction of people, business, data and things dynamically creates value through transient engagements. Digital business initiatives mandate that enterprises interact more closely and in real time with their customers to achieve business outcomes such as reduced costs and customer effort and an improved customer experience.

Extending services to the edge is the new “sweet spot” for cloud service providers to exploit new growth opportunities beyond cloud. Gartner estimates that by 2026, more than half of enterprises will be integrating edge computing principles into their projects. Digital touchpoints will become ubiquitous and help drive the digital economy.

Information

Cloud computing provides a foundation for the flow of information across multiple ecosystems, technologies, and organisations. Data handling and flow should be treated as a critical functionality as part of the cloud services offering where cloud becomes the common data fabric.

At the same time, it is important to be mindful of building the needed connectivity that provides efficient data transfer capability within the digital estate. Enhance cloud services to enable information flow across multiple technologies and ecosystems, as opposed to treating cloud capabilities as atomic features and functions serving a single need.

Innovation

Continuous integration and delivery are all about innovation and change. In the digital world, change is an accepted variable to success. In the cloud, the use of continuous change has grown just as the use of cloud has grown.

To support enterprises making the shift to digital, product capabilities must optimise cloud-native platforms in order to aid DevOps and DevSecOps teams to drive modernisation, which will in turn drive digital outcomes.

Ecosystems

Hyperscale cloud providers have become the focus of multiple ecosystems of service providers. Digital initiatives require organisations to bridge the gap between cloud ecosystems for data storage, service delivery, sovereign operation and industry-specific service delivery. As digital ecosystems expand, they increasingly result in the use of multiple cloud providers given that varied solutions and capabilities are centred on different clouds.

Aggregate offerings to form a sub-ecosystem that includes partnering with cloud application and IT services providers that already have a large customer base and access to new markets that may be difficult to reach. Establish a strong and distinctive ecosystem of skills by partnering with providers that have capabilities in areas of strategy and cloud IT services. Leverage partners focused on geography, technology and industry offerings.

Security

Security is enhanced through cloud interconnection, upon which digital depends heavily. As interconnection increases, the risk to all interconnected parties grows.

Enhance security functionality to reduce risk across multiple digital estates delivered by multiple providers that offer a variety of shared digital services and initiatives. Build sustainable and scalable compute-based cloud services in order to address the needs of compute intensive use cases, such as crypto currency. As digital evolves, security and shared risk will evolve as well. Cloud will continue to be an effective counter to the increased risk.

About the author

Sid Nag is a VP Analyst at Gartner, Inc. covering cloud services and cloud technologies.

Gartner analysts will provide additional analysis on cloud strategies and infrastructure and operations trends at the Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference taking place on the 21st and 22nd of November 2022.