Not Sure How Your Company Should Approach the Cloud? You Don’t Have to Figure It Out Alone
by Ali Fayazi
As a concept, cloud computing is hardly new—it’s been around for almost three-quarters of a decade at this point. In technology years, that’s practically a lifetime. However, only within the last year has it really taken shape in a meaningful way for businesses everywhere.
Until then, people didn’t trust it. They didn’t believe their data would be secure, or that they would truly be able to work “anywhere, from any device, at any time.” But in an era where 83% of all enterprise workloads are expected to be in the cloud by as soon as 2020, it’s safe to say people got over these hangups.
Personally, I refer to it as the “cloud space,” because it encompasses many different areas. Software-defined networking (SDN) makes networks more agile and flexible. Virtualization finally frees organizations from the restrictions of legacy hardware. DevOps automates processes between software development and IT teams, allowing people to build, test, and release apps faster and more reliably than ever before. Private, public, and hybrid clouds—the list goes on, and we’re still only hitting the tip of the iceberg.
Regardless of what the cloud space means to you, the major benefits are still the same. You get to empower collaboration across your organization, increase the agility of even the largest infrastructure, and significantly decrease capital expenditures—essentially all at the same time.
The cloud means collaboration, agility, and lower costs. All at the same time.
In the last two years that I’ve been heading up the Cloud Practice at Agilant, I’ve seen the cloud space evolve a great deal. And what prepared me to quickly adapt to this constant evolution is the experience that led me to where I am today: my career at the United Nations; at Value Line; organizing global security operations for Morgan-Stanley; and participating in the chief network architect group for AT&T. Throughout my career, I’ve grown to understand the complexity of IT and the right way to navigate these “cloudy” waters.
The Cloud Revolution: The Advantages and Challenges of Disruption
While the cloud space is exciting, there are also a lot of challenges that come with it. The cloud is nothing if it’s not malleable. It can be anything you need it to be, whenever you need it to be. But this also increases its complexity. To be successful, a cloud deployment must be properly aligned with a business’s long-term strategy—and that takes a lot of fine-tuning: time, care, and attention to detail.
The cloud is also not an option that is right for everyone. Organizations shouldn’t move into the cloud for some false sense of being on the cutting edge. They should make that move only when—and if—it’s right for their business.
These issues are a large part of the reason why, when moving into the cloud space, most companies need a partner who can stand by their side and guide them along the way.
This is where Agilant comes in.
It doesn’t matter what cloud technology can accomplish. It’s what it can do FOR YOU.
At Agilant, we see ourselves as more than just a cloud consulting or cloud services provider. We’re a value provider, first and foremost. We often see businesses struggle to understand the cloud space and what it can do for them. At Agilant, our role becomes simple: We help people focus on the “why” of the cloud before we ever even approach the “what.” Because what the cloud does is ultimately less important than what the cloud can do for you.
Where Knowledge, Experience, and Passion Meet Innovation
One of the major factors that separate Agilant from other organizations is that we’ve worked hard to remain vendor-independent. We believe in the cloud space and what it can bring to the table, but we don’t align ourselves with any one particular company. Agilant doesn’t push a specific vendor over another. Instead, we push cloud solutions that solve the problems our clients face.
We always work hard to come into any relationship from a consultative approach. We take the time to understand the customer’s core business and always ask ourselves, “How can we bring the most value to this situation?” Once we can make a use case, then we fill the gap with the required transformational technologies.
Our interest is the customer’s interests, making sure that if we’re tasked with giving them a cloud strategy, we leave them with a true roadmap into meaningful transformation. We want to add value to their bottom line and make their business more agile and more robust. If we’re not doing that, we’re not adding value. This is more than just a PO for us.
Modern Technology, Modern Use Cases
To give you an example of our work, let’s touch on DevOps and CI/CD use cases. These are major areas of focus for us due to their growing demand. Recently, we began working with one of the top ten financial institutions in the United States. They needed to leverage a DevOps- style practice to transition their existing applications into the cloud. We started by developing a completely customized environment in the cloud, totally independent of which type of cloud (public, private, or hybrid) they’d want to use.
Internally, this customer has ten different business units—each of which is essentially an internal customer of their IT department. Say one of their departments wanted to offer a new service for their credit card customers. Before engaging with Agilant in the cloud space, that would have been a lengthy and convoluted approval process that relied heavily on the IT department.
Instead, they now go to a portal that we’ve created for them. That department creates a request and then a workflow kicks off for approval. The approval goes directly to the right people through this system we’ve designed. The moment the final approval comes in and the chain is completed, the service is orchestrated by automation and is quickly enabled. Once enabled, users are notified of service availability and individual credentials are provided in a secure manner.
A year ago, this would have easily taken three months, if not longer. Today, it takes about 30 minutes from start to finish.
That is speed. That is agility. That is Agilant.
Automation lets teams work more independently, but also better together.
This new setup isn’t about freeing departments from working together. It streamlines how they work together. Manual processes fall by the wayside as automation takes over. This allows teams the flexibility to move effectively, efficiently, and at their own speed.
We’ve Seen It All
From a DevOps perspective, we’ve done it all. Automation, automated workflows, automatically enabling and disabling services when the lifecycle is complete—you name it. This is an area that’s of critical importance to organizations, and it’s one where Agilant adds an incredible amount of value. We can provide this level of guidance and leadership because our team has decades of experience.
The companies we serve in the cloud space are as varied as the technology itself. We do a lot of work with financial firms, for example, partnering with everyone from banks to insurance firms. We’re also strong in the healthcare space, working with organizations like hospitals and imaging facilities. These customers need a unique level of care because they have a requirement by law to not only retain data but to do so for a given amount of time in a secure manner. We work with different compliance types like PCI and HIPAA.
We’re also doing a lot of work in the educational space, teaming with private schools, universities, boards of education, and more. Some of them are also in the state and local government areas, as well. Regardless of the industry, our approach is always the same: We sit down at the table, as partners, to understand and grow your business.
The Shape of Things to Come
Over the last few years, a lot of companies have emerged, trying to do compete with Agilant. But again, the services themselves are less important than the value they can provide to the customer. Ultimately, this is how we differentiate ourselves and stand out from the pack: We offer the depth of knowledge, along with the platform-independent offerings most customers won’t find anywhere else.
The cloud space has already disrupted a wide range of different industries and, believe it or not, it’s just getting started. Over the next few years, we have machine learning and artificial intelligence to look forward to. Virtual reality is going to become ubiquitous. All three of those are buzzwords in the industry right now, but they’ll soon become the foundation upon which entire infrastructures are built.
But that’s not what excites me.
What truly excites me are the possibilities those ideas bring to the future of technology. AI is going to make us naturally more productive. Businesses will be transformed by using AI with information and data in ways that were impossible five years ago. Machine learning will allow us to live in a world where your air conditioner can automatically service itself as necessary, eliminating the need to make phone calls, deal with credit card information, and wait for service technicians. With AI alone, we’ll be able to eliminate traffic and avoid 90% of the accidents that happen every day.
But companies won’t get there all by themselves. They’ll be enabled by partners who understand the space and understand their business. We’ll do this together.