Why Cloud?

By Sukanya P, Senior VP - Tech Area Lead, Group Digital & Technology, Swiss Re

Public cloud is fast picking-up momentum and most organizations have started their journey towards building cloud native solutions if not already completed the same. The benefits of cloud solutions are many, and some of them can be highlighted as:

1.Unmatched level of performance and high scalability
2.Faster time to market
3.Economies of scale and flexible pay-per-use options
4.Rich technology choices and availability of talent pool
5.Ability to stay on top of technology innovations
6.Ability to connect data from across the organization to deliver meaningful insights

Cloud native systems are typically designed for high resilience, rapid & continuous change, and automatic scaling. They utilize advanced features such as serverless functions, microservices architecture, containerization, continuous integration and continuous deployment pipelines, and define the entire infrastructure as code.

Adoption of public cloud enables an enterprise to have a shared services model for the common considerations such as reference data, keys, passwords, access rights and can also provision some of the cross-cutting features such as monitoring, logging and security centrally. These enable rapid development of stateless microservices that can be loosely coupled with each other.

In order to enable migration to public cloud platforms, companies typically look at four different dimensions
1.Build a Set of Baseline Capabilities: Nurture partnerships with hyper-scalers, create a well-defined roadmap & targets for cloud migration and develop the basic premise around digital governance, data privacy & security. The baseline capabilities would also contain a set of standard products, reusable components and subscription limits and controls.

2.Define Cloud Adoption Strategy:Work with individual business units to determine the right candidates for cloud migration by classifying the current landscape and prioritizing the solutions that would benefit the most by leveraging cloud technologies.

3.Consciously Curate a Cloud Learning Journey:For traditional teams, building cloud native solutions requires a complete shift in the development, deployment, and operations approach. Hence, it is important that teams understand how to design an application as a collection of services, and decouple them for individual fault tolerance and horizontal scaling.

4.Focus on Cloud Economics:Foster a strong discipline around cloud costs, as these could go out of bounds quickly if not monitored. It is important to ensure that technical debt and ineffective processes are not migrated to cloud, and that business processes are re-engineered to utilize the value of cloud platforms

For traditional teams, building cloud native solutions requires a complete shift in the development, deployment, and operations approach

Future of Cloud
IoT Applications:Cloud is the single most enabler of large scale realtime data processing and ubiquitous computing. It helps connect multiple IoT devices and delivers insights through contextual data aggregation and processing. It could deliver smart predictions, troubleshooting and controls through continuous monitoring of the connected devices.

Artificial Intelligence:Cloud computing also plays a significant role in delivering artificial intelligence. Since Machine Learning platforms will require huge processing powers for training and testing large volumes of datasets, the seamless scalability of cloud resources becomes the natural choice for the development of cognitive solutions.

Edge Computing:Edge computing is a way to curate, process, and analyse data near its source, thereby reducing latency to high degree. It is predicted that 66 percent of companies will use edge computing for a majority of their cloud operations, and an estimated 75 percent of business data might get processed outside the centralized cloud in the next couple of years.

Hybrid Cloud:When solutions are built exclusively on a single cloud tool set, it might lead to vendor lock-ins. Also, as more and more countries have specific legal requirements to host data within the same region, companies will need to adopt a multicloud strategy. Most firms may also want to retain some parts of their private cloud infrastructure for highly secure and mission-critical data. This will result in a hybrid architecture and seamless data flow & interaction between these layers is imperative. This can be achieved by developing abstraction layers and containerization of application logic, instead of relying extensively on provider specific products.

Security Architecture:The most important parameter to consider during the cloud journey is the overall security strategy. Given that the focus will shift from setting-up firewalls to a zero-trust architecture, organizations will need to embrace DevSecOps principles where security is shifted left and is not considered an afterthought. Enhanced digital governance principles and compliance requirements will require definition and implementation of DevSecOps platforms, taxonomy and metrics throughout the development lifecycle, and a conscious switch to adapting 12 factor app methodology for software development.

All these changes will require re-architecture of the landscape, reformulation of business processes and careful calibration of the cloud frameworks for safer adoption and better returns on cloud investments. In short, having a defined cloud strategy is important for organizations to innovate at scale. When most modern platforms and solutions are getting launched in public cloud, companies will eventually gravitate towards cloud solutions to bridge the gap between their digital transformation strategy and execution.

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