As cloud providers offer increasingly sophisticated and rich offerings, companies are realizing that the move to the cloud provides them with a real opportunity to modernize their architecture, cope with chronic resource shortages and pursue the agility they need to meet their company’s competitive demands. 

This was the heart of the discussion at a recent  CanadianCIO IT Executive Roundtable, which showed how companies like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS),  a global leader in IT services, consulting, technology and digital solutions, are working collaboratively with public cloud leaders like Amazon Web Services (AWS) to fulfill the need for an enterprise-level platform. The session covered everything from understanding where companies are on the maturity scale to planning a roadmap to a sophisticated cloud-based architecture. 

Technology experts from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) explored how to optimize the enterprise cloud journey moving from a lift and shift to new reference architectures. They brought forward methods and case studies to help attendees understand the migration process from implementation strategy to harnessing the true power of analytics.

Start with a goal and a foundation

“It’s important to know what the goal is of migration and build it with a trusted partner,” said a representative from AWS. There are tremendous benefits to be gained, but it takes planning and a clear road map.

The first thing to ask is “what kind of application architecture do you need?” said Rajarshi Ray, TCS Practice Director, North America, Cloud Apps, Microservices and API. After that, it’s imperative to know what and how many services are really required. “If you have too many, it will get too complicated; if you have too few, you won’t get the job done,” he added.

Indeed, enterprise cloud is scalable and agile, but it can also be complicated. Clear goals are required. Savings or reduced inefficiencies may not be realized if the implementation goals are unrealistic or vague.

“It’s essential for you to build a robust foundation,” Ray said. But that requires a real understanding of your goals and objectives. Savings or reduced inefficiencies may not be realized if the implementation goals are unrealistic or vague. 

 Rethink your data architecture

The strategic use of data will be the key to any company’s competitive advantage, though currently, many companies fall far short on action, speakers noted. According to Forbes, about two-thirds of businesses don’t have a comprehensive long term strategy for analytics (McKinsey Analytics). Yet understanding how to drive value from their data is key to remaining competitive.

“Staying digitally relevant” is top of mind for many companies as they feel pressure to keep up with increasing data loads, and the technology that manages it,” said Dipyaman Sinha, a business development manager for TCS. Many in the room concurred that they felt this pressure.

A real data strategy will help you “understand the data, make sure all of the data is available, finding insights in the data, and acting on the data,” said Sinha.

“When you think about your data, you have to think about where your data is going to be, how long it takes to transport, where you are going to process it,” said Jim Love, ITWC, who hosted the discussion. “The size of our data sets presents us with real challenges. We may be able to use AI to analyze our data, but still not be able to use a single ‘collect and centralize’ strategy as we did in the past for data warehouses.” 

For example, he said, sensors feeding incredible amounts of data, may need to be processed at the ‘edge’ to provide real-time analytics. “Conversely, we may need to pass other data to a central repository to do wider trend analysis.”

One of the participants, who has a large real-time payment application concurred. Any move to the cloud must consider the complexity, the degree of integration and the performance and latency restrictions of a true enterprise application. Love acknowledged this, noting that the new cloud architectures are inevitably hybrid models, having the processing and integration where it needs to be to meet these challenges.

Another key constraint mentioned by all of those in attendance was the difficulty in finding and holding onto staff with the skills and abilities to meet these new needs. Nav Taneja, AWS leader responsible for global strategic partnerships, noted their response was to develop local teams focused on particular customers to help alleviate these constraints and free up existing resources to work on key strategic projects and planning.

New approaches 

TCS’s Cloud Solutions lead Sanjay Prabhu noted that there are at least three different strategic approaches, ranging from a simple conversion to redeveloping an application to a cloud-native, micro-systems architecture.” Each of these strategies depends on the application, the complexity, and the business case.”

“The potential is enormous, but it takes real planning and a sophisticated understanding of our data and what we want to get from it.”

If we want to take advantage of the real power of cloud architectures and processes, lift and shift is not going to cut it in many cases, said Love.

“This is the opportunity to rethink our architecture. If we can make the business case, and if we can leverage these tools to do them at the speed and cost, we can help our organizations cope with the new hypercompetitive world and achieve their transformation goals,” said Love.” The good news is that in the next few years, we will discover that we are not limited by technology, but by our imagination. But realizing that potential cannot be done with old infrastructure.”