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­­2022 is becoming the year established industries shift to cloud-first models  

Article by Rajesh Awasthi, Vice President & Global Head of Managed Hosting and Cloud Services, Tata Communications.

The last two years saw cloud technology become heavily encouraged across almost every sector. For businesses wanting to thrive in the chaos of the pandemic, the move to cloud environments became a necessity amidst the shift to remote working and the inability to access data centers.

As a result, more businesses than ever – including many from established industries such as manufacturing, retail and healthcare – have increased their adoption of cloud-first models and strategies. This approach is empowering these industries with more agility and efficiency in what has been a very uncertain time for the world, and thus, business.

But how exactly have businesses in these established sectors managed this impressive shift, and what impact has being cloud-first had on their operations and customers?

Regulated industries making progress with the cloud

Rajesh Awasthi, Vice President & Global Head of Managed Hosting and Cloud Services, Tata Communications

Healthcare is a great example of an industry that can transform societies for the better, but that is often hamstrung in its efforts, partially due to the sensitivity of the data it handles. This is where the cloud comes in – it can help healthcare leaders balance progress and change with efficiency and security.

In India, for instance, the government launched a new project, eHealth Infra, to help the underprivileged of the nation gain access to a public health insurance scheme.

In the past, regulatory and data privacy concerns would have stymied efforts like this. However, private cloud services have caused many of those concerns to fade away.

As a result, the project has since been joined by 26 states and covers 45-47% of the Indian population, providing consistent connectivity that enables citizens to reliably enroll in the service.

Finance is another industry that must often deal with strict regulations concerns due to the sensitive data they handle, along with legacy technology concerns. However, since digital native fintech started using their cloud-attained nimbleness to provide customers with next-generation services, established financial institutions have had to reconsider their strategies in favor of more cloud-first approaches. This has allowed them to work with an increased level of efficiency and security, offering their customers the same high-quality experience that born-in-the-cloud, new-age fintech offer.

Physical businesses going virtual for more efficiency

Even in the incredibly physical world of manufacturing, businesses are finding new ways to adopt cloud-first models. Manufacturers need to keep track of numerous moving pieces; from assembly on factory floors to the timely delivery of raw materials. And while some operations are external, in the case of manufacturing execution, workloads need to be closer to the factory floor.

So, in these instances, a distributed channel of technology platforms to leverage edge computing and bring cloud technology closer to on-premise deployments is necessary. By using cloud tools to optimize operations and bring all these disparate actions into a single view, a manufacturer can dramatically improve its operations’ efficiency and reduce production timelines, both of which help organizations to sustainably expand.

Cloud-first model in action

While the advantages of a cloud-first strategy are many, as signaled above, it’s also crucial to see how businesses work with the cloud to gain these benefits.

A great example is the case of a large retailer that specializes in designer fashion, accessories, and furniture. It was looking to accommodate the growing number of data and applications that were accruing as it rapidly scaled up, both physically and digitally.

It also wanted to flexibly support traffic spikes during periods of discount sales, festivals and the holiday seasons – all while ensuring its system’s security was maintained and its costs around ownership and maintenance were all under control.

By shifting the bulk of their processes, including their critical workloads, to a private cloud, the retailer was able to address all of these requirements, enabling higher performance, security and instant scale up.

Additionally, with a partner helping it tailor the cloud solution to their specific needs, they also created secure, high-speed Internet Protocol (IP) and Virtual Private Network (VPN) connectivity links between the retailer’s different sites, allowing for speedy data archiving, billing and real-time back-up services to protect against data failover incidents.

Since the implementation, the retailer now has a high-performing, secure, private environment with an availability guarantee of 99.9%. It can instantly spin up additional resources as and when it needs them, so it can cope better with the rapid opening of new outlets and the exponential growth in data that goes with it.

And with the 24-hour, 365 days a year maintenance and support it receives from its cloud provider –another perk of having such a high utility of the service – additional on-demand resources to help deal with seasonal traffic spikes can be easily acquired.

Embracing the cloud-first paradigm

One of the most powerful factors driving businesses to change is their consumers. We now live in a world that, for the sake of accessibility, must be internet-first. And that affects every business and institution the public interacts with in any fashion.

For instance, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has an internet-first policy that states, “all new health and social care digital services should be internet facing and existing services should be changed to be made available over the internet as soon as possible.”

But businesses looking to make this transition must understand that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy that established sectors can take. This is why it’s crucial every business begins by looking inwards to see how a cloud-first approach could benefit them, as well as outward for a partner to help them successfully make the transition as non-disruptively as possible.

We all know cloud technology will be part of the future of every organization. However, the true winners in the coming years will be those organizations that not only figure out how to optimize their present operations with a cloud-first strategy but also begin to lay the groundwork that will lead to exponential growth in the future.