The time for idle chat about digital transformation has passed and CEOs are quickly realising that old legacy systems they’ve been relying on are not cut out for the new era of modern business.
In just three years, the New Zealand cloud market is projected to reach $2.5 billion, with public cloud growing 20 percent, according to the Microsoft Intelligent Cloud research conducted by IDC
The report notes most Kiwi organisations expect to have cloud-based solutions to transform their operations within the next two years. And 65 per cent are focused on hybrid cloud.
The surge of AI (artificial intelligence) and IoT (Internet of Things) technology, with its myriad of interconnected devices and applications, has led to an explosion of data.
With that comes the potential for incredible competitive advantage, as well as growth in efficiency, productivity and flexibility. However, there simply isn’t the speed or the agility for all this data on traditional systems, meaning future-ready businesses need to jump on the cloud, and now.
The major barrier for many is the disruption to tried and true ways of doing things, according to the IDC report. In fact, 34 per cent of Kiwi organisations see change management as the biggest single challenge of the digital economy.
This is where a hybrid cloud solution really flexes its muscles – offering the best of both worlds by minimising disruption, while maximising flexibility.
Hybrid platforms like Microsoft’s Azure Stack combine the scale and regular improvements offered by public Azure cloud with the speed, security and customisation of private cloud – and best of all, it’s seamless.
A match made in the clouds
Integration is a top priority for many businesses, but it can be hard to know how. The trick is to work out where to split your data and processing so that it plays to the strengths of both the public and private cloud.
The reality is most of us are already using a mix of public and private cloud applications. Google Docs, Hotmail and Office 365 are all cloud-based, as are most of the backup systems on our laptops and servers.
As we look to take advantage of exciting technologies like AI, Internet of Things, mixed reality, and advanced data analytics, there simply isn’t a one-size fits all solution.
You might need local infrastructure to ensure your business has fast access to critical data at all times and to prevent you from being reliant on your internet connection. On the other hand, public cloud will be essential to reduce the cost and time involved in testing and deploying new applications, harnessing the sheer scale of data in a way private servers simply can’t.
Imagine a platform that benefits from millions of worldwide test users instead of dozens of local ones and upgrades regularly as a result – a product developer’s nirvana. In future, such technology will be able to learn customers’ preferences, just as a search engine like Bing or a business application like Office 365 does.
Cybersecurity vendor Symantec has adopted Microsoft Azure company-wide, delivering its Norton software products to more than 50 million people via the platform. This speaks volumes about the security and trustworthiness of Azure and hybrid solutions in general.
Sensitive data can be stored under lock and key in your on-site hardware, while still merging seamlessly with the data on the public cloud, all accessible through one consistent application.
Also, with a hybrid structure, you don’t need to reinvest in new hardware right away, keeping your existing infrastructure and moving applications to the public cloud as and when it makes sense. For businesses, that spells fewer disruptions and bigger cost savings, even as they introduce new software applications.
The key is to democratise data science and AI so Kiwi businesses can turn their data into real insights that give them a competitive advantage.
The new tech democracy
We’re seeing a shift to customers wanting the ability to add on and create their own software.
Hybrid cloud platforms have opened the door for customers to become partners. In New Zealand, Microsoft has partnered with Datacom, Revera, and Umbrellar, who offer their own unique versions of Azure Stack as hybrid solutions that can be easily customised to the needs of their customers.
Small businesses can now benefit from off-the-shelf hybrid solutions tailored to fit their operations at a fraction of the cost of bespoke architecture.
This model has created a more democratic environment, allowing small organisations to harness the power of big data just the same as a large corporation, with minimal investment and maximum reach.
Local school-based digital health organisation iMOKO democratises healthcare by putting everyday technology in everyday people’s hands, achieving improved outcomes for children in underprivileged areas. iMOKO supports more than 8000 children through its app, which enables remote diagnosis of non-serious conditions such as skin infections, strep throat and other health problems.
Using the Azure Stack platform by Revera’s Cloud Creator enabled the app to become much faster, boosting agility and enabling it to be used by more volunteers in more remote locations. It’s a real by the people, for the people solution that wouldn’t be possible without cloud technology.
Hybrid cloud is a hugely powerful force in digital transformation, not least because of its ability to convert data into something much more meaningful than a screen full of numbers.
The key is to democratise data science and AI so Kiwi businesses can turn their data into real insights that give them a competitive advantage. These are exciting times for the data economy, and it’s great to see local businesses catching on.
Patrick Quesnel is Microsoft cloud and enterprise BG lead in New Zealand.
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