For several years now, we’ve been talking about the new opportunities that cloud computing offers. It used to be a simple choice between public and private; now we’re in a ‘mix-and-match’ era of multiple kinds of cloud — private, public, hybrid, edge and different combinations of all of these. And why?
Modern business demands flexible, tailored environments that allow an explosion of applications — from cloud-native, to legacy and increasingly, modern apps running in containers — to deliver powerful and personalised digital experiences to individual customers and employees. And why is this shift so important? It’s because the future of business is clearly being driven by applications and the way users interact with them — they have become nothing less than the lifeblood of business innovation and differentiation.
Consider the increase in innovation we’ve seen in e-commerce since the pandemic hit: this is filtering through to consumers via new and powerful applications being delivered to their devices. Apps like The Yes, for example, which launched earlier this year.
The Yes is billed as ‘a new way to shop’ — the more you say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to items while you shop, the more the application learns about your personal style, size and brand preferences, curating your own personal shopping feed based on current trends and its inventory of items from brands all around the world. In fact, the analysts estimate that there’s been ten years’ worth of growth in e-commerce in only three months earlier this year, showing how quickly digital is replacing traditional physical channels — and demonstrating the power of getting apps into the hands of users, fast.
To cater for this app-centric approach to innovation, the proliferation of clouds that businesses use, both in terms of number and variety, is also accelerating. According to Forrester, CIOs expect the number of clouds they use to build, manage and run apps, will increase by 53% in the next three years.
The complex and diverse requirements that applications have when it comes to infrastructure are driving multi-cloud strategies. And as a business, VMware is focused on delivering the multi-cloud platform for the future, supporting any app, on any cloud, to any device. It is a story of choice, delivered simply. And a story of innovation — accessing and consuming apps that harness AI and ML — all being delivered with ease and transparency.
The future of business – powered by apps
The application agenda is firmly on the radar of those responsible for leading businesses. Recent research from Forrester highlighted that 88% of executives believe improving their application portfolio directly improves the customer experience, with 82% agreeing that customer experience is closely tied to revenue growth. But at a time when organisations need to power forward, this new quest to improve and drive business success is often hampered by complex architectures and IT having inconsistent approaches to creating, running, managing and protecting apps.
This complexity, an organic sprawl of private and public clouds alongside on-premises data centres, as well as the corresponding team silos, characterises many enterprise IT infrastructures. Multiple environments can deliver benefits, as the infrastructures involved are matched to business need and delivery mechanisms or applications. But multi-cloud also needs to be delivered in a way that ensures consistency of operations.
A recent VMware study noted that 63% of organisations state inconsistencies between clouds as one of the top ‘multi-cloud’ challenges, as the danger of recreating old IT silos in the digital era looms.
Enabling future-ready organisations to hyper scale
As a result, businesses need a coordinated and consistent approach to using multiple clouds. One which allows them to use as many as they need, without the silos, the complexity, and the multitude of management and operational approaches.
In pursuit of this, we are enabling a new phase of strategic multi-cloud adoption. Enterprises need access to consistent infrastructure and operations that enable a consistent developer model from whichever cloud hyperscaler that best suits their requirements: Alibaba Cloud, AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, Oracle Cloud, OVHCloud or a local specialist cloud provider — it doesn’t matter who provides it.
Different providers naturally provide a range of different services, comprising everything from SaaS to IaaS, PaaS to FaaS (in the form of serverless computing) and much more. This range of solutions from some of the most pioneering organisations in the world unlocks cloud’s full potential and value for application modernisation, business agility and resiliency, and digital transformation.
What’s more, this matchmaking between the right applications and the right clouds can be managed with simplicity and security — via a single underlying digital foundation that opens up the possibility of innovation for apps, secure operations and efficiencies across clouds, and generates tangible savings for the business.
Take Harman, which designs and engineers connected products and solutions for car makers, consumers, and enterprises worldwide. Ashok Madhuranath, the company’s senior manager of cloud architecture and operations recognises that, “… as our multi-cloud cloud strategy grew, we lacked the tooling necessary to operate efficiently across both AWS and Azure. CloudHealth by VMware provides us with a centralised view of our entire multi-cloud environment. As the global pandemic took hold, cost became an even higher priority. With CloudHealth’s ‘rightsizing’ recommendations in combination with other features and internal automation, we estimate we are now saving upwards of $1M a year in cloud spend.”
As Ivan Monti, Head of ICT Infrastructure of Italian power generation company, Ansaldo explains: “With VMware Cloud on AWS, we’ve rediscovered the performance and autonomy that our on-prem architecture gave us…It offers the scalability and service continuity that we expect from the cloud and at the same time has giving us the flexibility, transparency and ease of management we were used to with a software-defined data centre…It’s an excellent starting point for future developments towards the cloud, which is the inevitable direction for many IT systems.”
This represents a step-change in the way enterprises acquire technology. Gone are the days of vendor lock-in and compromise, the future is now one of collaboration and choice. Quite simply, businesses are able to access the best technology from whoever best supplies it.
Build, and run, wherever is best
Simplicity, speed, scale, security and management are all benefits that every business adopting an effective multi-cloud strategy should be able to realise. We believe you need a single, common platform that delivers all apps — whether cloud-native in public or private clouds, hybrid apps, or on-premises traditional applications — and enables developers to use the latest development methodologies and container technologies for faster time to production. And all this should be delivered from a single unified platform, with consistent management and operations.
Organisations looking to improve productivity, agility, and customer experience are embracing container-based microservice architectures, and standardising on Kubernetes for the management of those containers. This will only happen by streamlining the enterprise adoption of Kubernetes – the game-changing technology that automates how businesses build and run containerised apps, thanks to its ability to bring together developers, operations and security to deliver an “enterprise-consumable” approach.
Doing this is helping them establish a simplified cloud foundation, an approach that empowers enterprises to increase their pace of innovation, offers developers the freedom to deliver apps to any cloud, removes barriers to Kubernetes adoption, and helps IT admins enhance their skillsets to support a new wave of modern apps.
This means that developers, who need to develop and get apps into the hands of users fast, and IT operations, who are vital in supporting this effort, can be truly aligned via a developer-ready infrastructure that can deliver code to any cloud — an alignment that has historically been difficult and a significant source of tension.
International cargo shipping company ZIM, achieved this when it wanted to accelerate order confirmations and make business decisions based on real-time data. Working with VMware Pivotal Labs, it moved its software teams to a cloud-native model, cutting down the time it took to get apps into the hands of users from months to days. These apps improved the overall customer experience and meant that teams within the business could have faster, automated access to the data they needed to make effective decisions.
Unlocking the enormous potential of multi-cloud means providing developers with the freedom they need to innovate, whilst providing IT with consistent and efficient security and operations. Doing so is a digital imperative for modern businesses, ensuring that they are free to build run, manage and scale applications across any cloud and to any device, putting them at the forefront of innovation — to deliver the best apps, to the right users, at the right time, securely and at speed.
That’s why putting a multi-cloud strategy at the heart of IT operations is crucial. It serves as a universal foundation; a seamless pool of resource powering all applications without compromise, delivering greater innovation and a differentiation capability with resilience and the provision of consistency across the board.
By bringing together the world’s leading cloud providers and hyper-scalers via a unique and consistent model for management and operations, multi-cloud is helping organisations become future-ready. More resilient, more able to innovate and differentiate, better able to retain and attract customers, better able to empower engaged ‘anywhere’ workforces. And above all, better placed to manage and exploit change.