Gaining Control of the Cloud in a High Velocity Digital World

Mike Pearl, Principal and Global Cloud Computing Leader, PwC
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Mike Pearl, Principal and Global Cloud Computing Leader, PwC

In today’s fast-paced, digital world, businesses struggle to keep pace. They need to execute swiftly, without sacrificing quality, customer experience, or security. As such, businesses need to transform nearly every aspect of their operating models.

Cloud computing is one of the greatest disruptors of our time—now well-established and increasingly accepted among the C-suite. Cloud enables large-scale digital transformation, helping speed time-to-market, and drive growth, innovation, collaboration and new revenue streams. Yet businesses face growing complexity in managing the impactsof Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and other cloud models.

Challenges are only intensifying as digital investments become increasingly fragmented across the enterprise. Approximately 68 percent  of spending on technology now falls outside of IT budgets, according to PwC’s 2015 Digital IQ Survey, as business units and functions move in silos and make investment decisions in cloud without involvement from IT.

These uncoordinated investments lead to an ad hoc array of legacy systems, emerging technologies, applications and third-party services that all need to interconnect in real time—not only across the enterprise, but across the entire ecosystem of employees, suppliers, customers and partners.

As the cloud ushers in new demands around security, availability, compliance, and monitoring, businesses seek new approaches to manage the cloud. PwC’s New IT Platform is a holistic framework that helps enterprises think about cloud-related transformation across five key areas:

  • The role of IT emerges into a strategic orchestrator of business services.
  • Assemble-to-Order powered by DevOps replaces custom development.
  • Integration Centric Architecture resembles a tight knit fabric of seamless and secure interconnections across an ecosystem of cloud technologies.
  • Digital Keystone Skills and the role of the enterprise architect change.
  • Governance processes adapt to empower, not control.

By implementing change across these five areas, businesses can integrate cloud services more simply, quickly and securely to take advantage of all that they have to offer.

The New Role of IT

Cloud services are fundamentally changing the long-standing role of IT, as IT evolves from a controller of all things IT into an orchestrator of services that empowers all employees with technology. In this new role, IT becomes a consultant and broker of cloud services—embracing, integrating and supporting cloud capabilities wherever they reside. IT offloads mundane tasks, and manages, governs and configures cloud services, fosters collaboration, and looks at cloud through a business capabilities lens.  

Assemble-to-Order

While cloud enables new levels of speed and agility, businesses need to consider new demands around experience, security, quality, and control. As customer expectations take center stage, businesses are moving away from small groups dictating custom-built products. Instead, IT is embracing a fluid, iterative assemble-to-order approach that allows flexibility, collaboration and innovation.

As part of this shift, businesses are turning to DevOps, where operations and development teams collaborate from ideation through design, development, and support. Ideas come from cross-functional communities of employees, customers and partners, through a structured innovation and design process based on cloud and other emerging technologies.

One leading international insurance carrier turned to DevOps to support global software deployments, improve release times, and reduce complexities due to multiple systems. The approach helped the carrier lower costs through higher utilization of resources, improve quality through standardization, increase delivery speed through automation, and become more agile.

An Integration Centric Architecture

Among the biggest challenges caused by cloud is massive integration required to connect cloud and on premise technologies. PwC’s Integration Fabric framework helps deliver seamless, secure and flexible interoperability across a diverse and distributed ecosystem. The Integration Fabric goes well beyond technology—providing a scalable platform for gradual migration, and adapting to changing business needs and policies with reduced involvement from IT.

The Integration Fabric holistically addresses integration of the user experience across devices, business process and business rules integration, application and service integration, data Integration, and master data integration, taking into account security and manageability, across cloud and ground end points. It also enables a more federated approach that introduces the notion of a “Citizen Integrator” who can perform integration tasks without the involvement of IT.

For one software company, a large portfolio of integration platforms and custom point-to-point integrations limited the agility of business teams. Further, increased adoption of SaaS led to a proliferation of integration endpoints in the cloud. Lack of governance around integration resulted in uncoordinated use of technology and processes.

The company created a thorough Integration Fabric for enterprise integration based on an Integration-Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS). They migrated from five legacy platforms (from the original 10) to the new iPaaS platform, reducing complexity, enabling better operational control and faster integrations. Interface development went from taking a month to requiring two to three days. Total cost of ownership is lower and decentralized service ownership has increased.

"As the cloud ushers in new demands around security, availability, compliance, and monitoring, businesses seek new approaches to manage the cloud"

Organizational Change and Skills

In light of the cloud, organizational change and new skills are crucial. As the role of IT changes, IT needs experienced problem solvers and enablers of the business—employees with multi-disciplinary technology expertise, deep business domain knowledge, and the ability to evaluate the impact of decisions across the enterprise. Enterprise architects are becoming more important to help drive capabilities-backed enterprise architecture approaches. Core market knowledge, business judgment and prototype design and management are also necessary.

Governance

With the flexibility afforded by the cloud, traditional governance models need to adapt from those that control to those that provide freedom within boundaries. IT provides necessary guidance while entrusting others to act independently. In a cloud-centric world, new governance mandates should include a minimal set of critical standards and guidance, like data and interface standards, so that business units can directly engage with cloud service providers. Further, standards, policies and enforcement should be defined by a more collaborative approach. A minimal set of standards should be jointly identified by constituents from the broader enterprise.

While change itself is not new for IT organizations, the velocity of change and associated complexity—driven in large part by the cloud—is unprecedented. Organizations unable or unwilling to move away from the traditional IT paradigm may be at risk. The New IT Platform can help organizations benefit from the potential of the cloud and build their competitive advantage.

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