Don't get too comfortable. It's time to co-create for cloud success

The cloud remains the autobahn to transformation, provided you have the right ecosystem in place says Mark Phillips, Head of Digital Pursuits, Fujitsu EMEIA

Are you sitting comfortably? The World Bank predicts that if digital technology continues to disrupt traditional industries at the current rate, then 30 percent of total global business revenue, that’s more than $60 trillion, will be redistributed by 2025 to brand new players.

It doesn’t make comfortable reading, does it? Faced with a challenge of that scale, businesses have no choice but to transform. Competition has become hyper-intense and business-as-usual is a recipe for failure. Organizations need to do more than evolve and change – they must find ways to match and surpass new competitors, many of whom are playing by entirely new rules.

Blame it on the cloud?

Much, probably most, of the new disruption has come from one particular quarter: new players leveraging the power of the cloud. And this remains the most fertile place for businesses searching for transformational ways to innovate, to respond to change faster and to launch and deliver more seamless services.

The cloud is so much more adaptable, responsive and connected than any alternative, and more economically flexible too. Whereas on-premise was the automatic choice in the not-too-distant-past, enterprises now favor the cloud, specifically in the right shape and size for their organization. And there are many reasons why they would do that: resilience, security, agility, and scalability, not to mention lower costs. But perhaps even above all these factors is the ability to move at pace and innovate faster, to build the new services and applications of tomorrow that will accelerate growth and greater customer engagement.

Economies of hyperscale

Another reason why enterprises are still turning to the cloud, which has been with us now for many years, is that things have moved on and the scope of what is possible is now even more exciting than when it first emerged.

One of the biggest, most impactful changes has been the genesis and huge growth of hyperscale cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS) – with which Fujitsu has recently announced a strategic collaboration and new, co-created service – where the scale of operation and investment has resulted in breathtaking economies, advances, and future roadmaps. These platforms allow organizations to build new services that transform the user experience and increase customer engagement. They are a great leveler and enable any business to access enterprise-class services and capabilities as well as advanced development tools, enabling innovation at a rapid speed.

Not one, but many

If the picture I’m painting seems a bit monolithic so far, let’s unbundle that. Most established businesses still have some strategic applications that have to remain on-premise for regulatory reasons, or because the software has been customized over numerous years and does a job that would be too daunting to reproduce. As such, their resulting architecture is likely to be a blend of cloud and the best of what they already had – or Hybrid IT – a phrase we coined some years ago and has since become the norm.

But that’s not the end of the complexity. Multi-cloud is now a reality, in fact, it has even become the computing paradigm of choice and will only continue to grow, with the majority of enterprises going with a ‘right workload for right cloud platform’ approach, to achieve a model that works perfectly for their business. One size rarely fits all, so multi-cloud is the answer for blending the agility, service and cost advantages of hyperscale cloud with the solidity, robustness and compliance-ready features of private cloud and on-premises IT. Integration and orchestration is key to doing this, but when a multi-cloud environment is well-connected in this way, it can deliver transformational outcomes – some of which you might not even have thought were possible in your business context.

Co-creation – the key to speed and coping with complexity

The reality is that no organization can drive cloud success alone and no single technology provider can deliver a broad scale of objectives that a business wants to achieve. The most successful transformations are enabled through co-creation, powered by an ecosystem of partners working together with customers to add their business context to their overall solution. Co-creation brings together the necessary technology and application expertise in a single team to make change happen at rapid speed.

Speaking of rapid change, multi-cloud hybrid environments are undoubtedly the direction of travel but they are also extremely demanding, especially when you layer in the realities of day-to-day operations. Over two-thirds of organizations say changes in cloud services they have running happen every few days or less, according to Fujitsu’s State of Orchestration Market Report 2018/19. Keeping up with the pace of change in leading cloud platforms and services is essential if you want to compete at the forefront of your market… and there may be many providers involved.

Our orchestration report also found that organizations now work with an average of nine cloud providers and continue to use more, with many already using over ten. On this basis, IT simplification is crucial and can only be achieved through co-creation. Fujitsu’s strategic collaboration with AWS allows customers to get the most out of extremely powerful platform capabilities while ensuring everything is connected and well-orchestrated to drive greater value from existing processes.

Steps towards transformation

Speed and deploying the latest technologies at pace are clearly important, but they don’t guarantee successful digital transformation – the necessary steps must be carefully planned and executed. Fujitsu divides digital transformation for its customers into a number of distinct steps corresponding to their digital maturity level. This allows them to identify where they are – from establishing the necessarily connected enterprise to building artificial intelligence into services and processes – and then mapping the moves that will take them forward.

Something we really look at in the digital maturity model is how large organizations can really accelerate innovation by going beyond ‘just’ re-hosting in the cloud. A platform like AWS provides even greater value when organizations re-architect applications in the cloud or make them cloud-native. However, undertaking such a project often involves going into the unknown. With our co-creation approach, we have a series of initiatives called Cloud-Native Accelerators, where a dedicated team and partners help customers understand how a cloud-native approach might work for their business, and explore the latest cutting-edge technologies applied to their business environment and processes. All of this is helps towards responding to digital disruption, innovating faster and of course, delivering the type of services which customers now expect.

The cloud remains the locus of interest for organizations wanting change. Transformational? Yes. Complex? Yes. Doable? Yes. Challenges exist, of course, but, as I hope I’ve demonstrated, with the right ecosystem in place combining hyperscale providers and global-scale integrators and service providers with the right hybrid IT orchestration skills, your organization can leverage the power of the cloud to truly transform.