The digital economy is an outcome of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) due to the widespread adoption of digital technology. According to the World Economic Forum, 4IR involves a combination of various technologies that increasingly combine the physical, digital, and biological domains. 4IR also brings forth significant changes in the economy, similar to the previous industrial revolution. Changes occurring today are extremely rapid and unprecedented. 4IR has affected almost every industry in the world and has transformed the modes of production, management, and administration.
As a result, Malaysian firms are relying on digital technology more than ever before since the pandemic revealed that manufacturers lacked the necessary infrastructure, security, and network design to support digital innovation.
Cloud-based computing offers the ideal solution allowing manufacturers to be agile, and more flexible. They can quickly scale up to meet demand spikes by deploying additional servers, storage, and networking resources in the cloud.
The top hurdle to cloud adoption is the loss of control. But while on-premises servers, storage, and networking offer control, it can be costly to employ the right talent to manage them. Budget constraints can also make you inflexible to market demands.
It is why many manufacturers view the hybrid computing approach as the future. It offers a sensible strategy because it brings together the security and control of on-prem computing with the scalability and space for innovation of public cloud infrastructure. And since you pay only for the services you use, you don’t have to be permanently tied to resources you might no longer need.
As a result, analysts see demand for hybrid computing soaring — at an impressive compounded annual growth rate of 21%, with the global market set to reach US$172 million by 2025.
While there is strong demand for hybrid computing, there’s no single blueprint for deployment. Every hybrid cloud migration strategy needs to be tailored to the specific needs of your enterprise. Here are six ways to ensure your journey will be less bumpy:
1. Survey the landscape
Using cloud-based applications for your business is not an all-or-nothing deal. You’re probably running many applications, perhaps hundreds of them. Deciding whether an application should run on the cloud is not straightforward. So, companies need to understand what applications they have and decide their migration journey based on the importance of each application, how it can improve your business when in the cloud, and how easy it is to migrate.
2. Find the low-hanging fruits
How comfortable are you with moving your most precious intellectual property and details about your customer relationships to a computing infrastructure that you don’t own? This is a business question, not an IT one. For example, if you handle medical data for patients or engineering designs related to intellectual property, it may not be easy to work in the cloud. Strict privacy protocols such as HIPAA patient confidentiality mandate strict security that can be a challenge. Instead of choosing such applications, it may be better to start with low-hanging fruits, such as running machine learning algorithms in the cloud. Besides, it allows you to create a business case for the hybrid cloud without the business risks or regulations becoming roadblocks.
3. Map out dependencies
Often, multiple applications share modules like back-end databases. It might not be possible to migrate these applications to the cloud without considering common dependencies. It also offers your business an opportunity to break away from these dependencies. Whatever your approach, you need to involve those who understand the application and its dependencies intimately. It also builds confidence with your key stakeholders before you make changes.
4. Consider open source
If you consider changing to a different application, module, library, or database infrastructure, then it is prudent to evaluate open-source alternatives. Open-source software has come a long way in terms of quality and is now ubiquitous, particularly in leading-edge cloud environments. The most popular open-source applications are stable and well supported with a large and active user base. If it’s suitable for your needs, there’s no reason not to use it. It also doesn’t hurt that open source software can help you save on licensing costs.
5. Focus on people and processes
Before you start anywhere, remember that great technology is the sum of talented people and efficient operations. Use both as a backdrop to frame your roadmap and chart your progress.
Take your staff into confidence. When migrating your applications, your choices will change daily workflows and affect your IT staff. People often resist change, and it’s important to share your plans and give them some ownership. It might also be an excellent time to have frank conversations and build trust. Some employees may be reluctant to give up control over an application and user base they developed over the years because it’s tied to their identity and expertise.
Moving to the brave new world of the cloud is also an opportunity for ‘old hands’ to pick up ‘new tricks’ especially if a cloud service provider reduces the monotony of menial work. Resetting somebody’s forgotten password for the umpteenth time gets old, and mundane tasks won’t be missed if a cloud provider automates it.
Keep in mind that migrating to the cloud is a partnership. It will fail like any significant IT project if your team isn’t on board, even if you do everything else right.
6. Rinse and repeat
Once your migration is complete, it’s also a good idea to periodically assess the state of your hybrid cloud tech stack and see if it’s best serving your needs.
If your tech stack includes many legacy on-prem systems and your integration strategy, which worked initially, is starting to stall, it might be time to look at your ecosystem and employ data integration vendors. They may be able to customize a plan that works more smoothly in your favor.
The future lies in your company’s ability to be agile and responsive. The explosive growth of big data — a market expected to hit USD103 billion by 2023 — mandates robust and easily scalable on-demand computing.
Embracing the hybrid computing model can help you leverage the power of digital transformation to your advantage — now and into the future. But it needs a strategy that is calibrated for your enterprise.
By Vincent Tang, Regional Vice President, Epicor Asia