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Cloud and the Digital Transformation

How is this actually connected?

Cloud and the Digital Transformation
Digital Transformation

Everyone is talking about Digital Transformation. However, it is seldom explained what exactly it means and what role the cloud plays in it - the danger is correspondingly great that companies' digitization initiatives simply get "bogged down" in the complex and volatile environment.

The Digital Transformation as the Sum of Its Transitions

At least the cloud reference is quickly explained - to do this, you only need to understand what a "transformation" actually is: A transformation initially knows no beginning and no end - it describes a continuous change of a system such as a company or market.

This change can be broken down into individual steps: Transitions transfer the system (such as a company or a market) from an old to a new state. An infinite chain of transitions then forms the continuous transformation.

So what does this have to do with the specific challenges of the cloud? The cloud describes some of these transitions that companies must face in order to successfully master the Digital Transformation as a whole.

Big Picture of Cloud Transitions

When we talk about the cloud, everything revolves around a strategically thought-out roadmap of cloud transitions which, taken together, form an integral part of the Digital Transformation. Cloud transitions are divided into three clusters based on Gartner's 5R model.

Infrastructure transitions

At the level of the classic data center business, infrastructure transitions form the basis. Here, individual business processes and the associated IT systems or the entire data center are transferred from a classic to a virtual environment of the public or private cloud. Various variants can be used to provide the infrastructure (IaaS): In addition to cloud hyperscalers such as AWS, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure, there are various offerings on the market for the transition to a private cloud. A combination of public and private cloud solutions is referred to as multi-cloud integration.

Infrastructure transitions are either planned as "big bang" migrations or implemented in a phased approach (e.g. via "SmartShift").

Cloud cative software design & redesign

The Gartner Rs Refactor, Revise and Rebuild are combined in the Cloud Native Design and Redesign area. Individual solutions and innovation projects are implemented here.

Cloud Native refers to the latest evolutionary stage of software development, which was only made possible by cloud technologies. Some of the key features of Cloud Native are:

  • The BusDevOps model breaks down silos that used to exist between development, operations and business units. Each developer also has operations in view at all times, eliminating unnecessary escalations. Subject matter experts are an integral part of the teams.
  • Continuous development, testing & integrations, i.e. a high degree of automation in service delivery, lead to drastically shortened release cycles.
  • The intensive use of given platform services (PaaS) from AWS, Microsoft Azure or IBM Watson lead to a drastically shortened time-to-market as well as the possibility to tangibly implement innovation experiments and prototypes in a short time.
  • Container architectures (e.g., with Docker) are the tool par excellence for the volatile times in which the markets find themselves. Software solutions thus become flexible, elastic, robust and changeable.

Cloud Native Design is about new solutions, e.g. for innovation projects with Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Chatbots, Robotic Process Automation, IoT or Big Data/Analytics, where typically fast, tangible results and experiments have highest priority.

The renewal of already existing application landscapes according to Cloud Native principles and methods can be found under the term Redesign. This ranges from the removal of individual components (e.g., the replacement of an on-premise database with a database-as-a-service) to the holistic refactoring/rebuilding of complete applications.

Application transitions

The Replace aspect covers all application transitions. This means the change from classic software provision methods and licensing models to the use of software-as-a-services (SaaS). This is also the final stage in the cloud transition environment.

Both industry-specific (such as editorial applications) and process-specific solutions (such as O365 as part of the workplace of the future) can be considered for the transition to software as a service. The challenge is to develop an individual overview of which SaaS are relevant for one's own application landscapes.

Cloud and Digital Transformation

A well thought-out cloud strategy can therefore be divided into three fields of action:

  • Infrastructure transitions
  • Software design & redesign
  • Application transitions

So how are Digital Transformation and the Cloud related? 

The cloud strategy describes some (but not all) of the Digital Transformation transitions. Every company should embed its cloud initiatives in an overarching digitalization strategy. Only if both topics are considered as a whole can you avoid the risk of getting bogged down in many digitization construction sites.

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Written by

Martin Weitzel
Expert for innovation topics