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Cloud Native Ecosystem / Kubernetes / Tech Culture

From Cloud to Edge, the Building Blocks of Modern Enterprise IT

This article focuses on the key technologies driving the digital agenda for modern enterprises and how they can be leveraged to create a sustainable competitive advantage.
Aug 3rd, 2021 11:40am by
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Subash Natarajan
Subash Natarajan is an associate director of digital consulting and engineering at NTTDATA; He has over 10 years of experience helping enterprises to connect their business objectives with IT strategy by weaponizing cutting-edge technologies.

Digital transformation is one of the hottest topics of recent times, predominantly during the COVID pandemic. You hear it a lot, but what is it? It is the process of changing from one way of doing things to another. For businesses, digital transformation is all about enhancing the ability to provide a much better customer experience by leveraging digital technologies. It should be a natural part of the evolution for any organization, and it’s happening more quickly than ever before because of the rise of digital technologies and the growing complexity of digital landscape.

This article focuses on the key technologies driving the digital agenda for modern enterprises and how they can be leveraged to create a sustainable competitive advantage.

Harness the Power of Modern Applications with Cloud Native

Let us start with cloud native computing. It is a paradigm shift that pushes the cloud boundaries to a new way of design, developing, and deploying the increasingly complex applications architectures. Previously, we had “cloud-ready,” which focused on giant monoliths running as instances on private or public cloud environments. However, cloud native has raised the bar and encourages developers to focus on the code and deploy it to a distributed, versatile, and open source-driven environments such as containers, which adds a layer of abstraction and is better for scale, resilience, and release velocity.

Unlike monolith applications, cloud native code is portable and leverages the microservice-based architecture and 12-factor principles. Switching to a microservices architecture reduces considerable overheads and enables parallel development practices. Since microservices are loosely coupled, allowing developers to update their code without impacting the other events of the application. For example, development teams can handle individual services and focus on their area of expertise. Adopting strategies for deploying, testing, and scaling best suited to their service, enables developers to be more innovative and promptly react to market demands.

As mentioned above, cloud native computing is quickly becoming a trend, and industries have started appreciating the values; while benefiting technically by increased speed and agility, they also advance business benefits like achieving the economy of speed and innovations.

However, transforming legacy/monolith application to microservices-based architecture is an exciting topic, where culture and mindset are the key drivers, and there is also a lot to take into consideration when architecting modern application with cloud native approach.

Take Advantage of Hybrid or Multicloud Deployment Models

In the previous section, we have established how the cloud native approach enables developers to deploy their code in multiple environments with modern development practice and mindset. However, improving the application capabilities also requires a range of underlying technologies and cutting-edge cloud services to deliver the actual business outcomes and improved experience. This is where cloud native meets the hybrid or multicloud to solve the needs of infrastructure platform requirements and providing a consistent applications management by leveraging a mix of on-premises and/or private/public cloud services from multiple providers.

For any digital transforming organization, a consistent technology foundation is becoming necessary to enables workloads to be optimally placed and managed, facilitating workload portability, and avoiding lock-in to a particular cloud vendor. With this cloud native hybrid or multicloud model, they can take advantage of the best-of-the-breed services from each cloud platform by choosing what makes sense for their component, task, and projects.

Think about it like this, with a hybrid multicloud model, users can run their business intelligence and the data warehouse in one cloud and their modern artificial intelligence workloads on another cloud. They may also have a third cloud provider for hosting their scalable customer-facing/frontend applications on managed Kubernetes services. In contrast, businesses can also extend more than one cloud for disaster recovery and business continuity while operating mission-critical apps in one of the other cloud environments.

Customer Experiences with Edge and 5G

The customer experience plays a crucial role in digital transformation. We can relate to digital transformation from our day-to-day activities like online shopping, ticket booking, and other services. However, when it comes to cloud native and hybrid or multicloud, how can we deliver best-in-class experiences from a business point of view?

Here’s how edge computing comes into play, bringing the processing and storage of data closer to user devices. In a modern IT landscape, edge computing has become the middle layer between the client workload and the cloud providers, thanks to the expansion of 5G and its availability to make edge computing meet its demands.

As proof of these developments, cloud providers today are elevating their partnership agreements with telecom providers today to enhance the “Distributed Cloud” experiences, connecting the macro datacenters with micro data centers (edge devices). For example, Microsoft has a strategic alliance with AT&T, Google has a partnership with Ericsson, and Amazon Web Services has a partnership with Vodafone.

We can strongly expect, the edge will change industries such as manufacturing, retail, automobiles, and even consumer goods. It links everything together to provide a better user experience and brings on the next level of customer engagement to enterprises. And, these developments will lead to a plethora of new use cases that will improve the human experience, such as VR/AR, the Internet of things, and a lot of artificial intelligence (AI)-driven automation.

Embrace AI to Drive Data-Driven Operations

Cloud native, hybrid, multicloud, and edge computing are great synergies, However, they generate lot of data when they become operational. Whether metrics, logs, events, traces, all these data need to be correlated and contextualized. The question is, how will we handle and manage these telemetry data for good and maintain consistency across all the environments?

In a typical scenario, the traditional role of IT operations was to monitor systems and deal with alerts when something goes wrong. However, with the new distributed application and systems, there are many new streams of data that will deluge in. It will be challenging for operators to maintain end-to-end reliability and resiliency as they did previously with the legacy monitoring, which is no longer the best solution for modern IT practices.

With digital transformation and the introduction of AI into IT operations, we get AIOps. The term “AIOps” stands for “artificial intelligence for IT operations.” Originally coined by Gartner in 2017, it refers to how an IT team manages data and information from an application environment with the help of AI. AIOps helps enterprises to be data-driven by modernizing their processes and applying a new class of technology that uses machine learning to detect patterns automatically and reduce noise.

There’s enormous potential for AI-driven operations that bring huge efficiency, self-healing, and other features, which helps IT operations to reap the natural freedom and flexibility without worrying about the “Day 2” challenges and business continuity.

In this article, we discussed some of the critical technologies of modern enterprise IT. While many great things come from these, they will undoubtedly add challenges to the digital landscape. Therefore, organizations must identify their transformation goals and ensure that these technologies help them achieving results while adopting new strategies to deal with the complex changes they bring.

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