Consulting & Innovation
Solutions & Products
Infrastructure & Operations
About us
Solutions & Products

How the Cloud can help transform Businesses

Of chefs and new business models

How cloud can help transform businesses

Of chefs and new business models


In recent years, industries and sectors have been swept up in digitization. While B2C applications were the initial trigger for this development (e.g., Uber, Netflix), numerous B2B applications are now waiting in the wings to repeat the great success.

Platform-as-a-Service for new business models

Digital technology platforms enable companies in these industries to test new applications in the market. For example, the U.S. company Medtronic is working with IBM Watson to analyze patient data in real time and suggest suitable treatments. The "Sugar IQ" system, jointly developed by the two companies, is aimed at diabetes patients who can have their insulin levels analyzed in real time. In the process, IBM Watson's cognitive system helps to adapt the analysis to the conditions and life situations of individual users.

To keep pace with this development, companies must learn to implement new business and business models with the help of innovative platform technology. Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, IBM Watson and others provide cloud-based solutions (Platform as a Service - PaaS) that can be implemented in companies' business processes with little effort and high scalability. This makes Platform-as-a-Service offerings significantly different from previous cloud technologies such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). In order to understand the context, an image from the kitchen should be used at this point.

The kitchen analogy - IaaS, SaaS and PaaS and what dishes you can cook with them


In our analogy, the task of a company's IT department is to cook tasty meals. These meals serve as the basis for the production of the company's own products and services. To prepare them, a corresponding IT infrastructure is required: a kitchen. Part of the kitchen equipment are all the devices that the employees need to produce the dishes: servers, data storage and networks.

In the days before the first cloud computing applications, companies had to set up the kitchen themselves. In a bare room, the pipes, electricity and gas lines first had to be laid. In a second step, the necessary household appliances had to be selectively connected and operated. Finally, the kitchen staff and janitors were hired and trained. That is, in this architecture, the company not only paid for the production of dishes, but also bore the cost of repair and maintenance.

With the advent of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solutions in the early 2000s, the initial situation changed: Now every company with a broadband connection had the option of accessing a functioning built-in kitchen. The beauty was that many of the maintenance tasks now no longer had to be performed by the company's employees. The kitchen manager saved himself the janitor, so to speak, and always found a "warm" kitchen. The downside: every time he wanted to use the kitchen, there was a cost to the company (e.g., pay-per-use). This is like having a pay slot at the entrance to the kitchen and the kitchen only opening if money was also inserted.

A second option for using cloud technology is software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. In other words, the business model with which the Salesforce company operates successfully. In the kitchen analogy, SaaS takes the position of a food delivery service. The customer can select the dish that is relevant to him from the range on offer and have it delivered directly to his home. The kitchen stays cold. And the customer only pays for what he has eaten.

But what are Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings in such a thought model?

First of all, PaaS is a big suitcase full of kitchen appliances that have not been used in one's own kitchen so far and that radically change the possibilities of cooking. However, these do not have to be installed in the kitchen at great expense, but can be used immediately via API and are practically infinitely scalable. This means that the culinary needs of a corner pub, the gastronomic turnover of a beer tent at the Oktoberfest, and the demands of a three-star kitchen can all be covered with the devices.

This allowed Medtronic to begin implementing Watson - and thus harness the innovative power of a cognitive system for its own products - without having to program a cognitive system itself.

Just like Medtronic, any company (any kitchen) can now access Watson via PaaS. And it's not just Watson that can be accessed. Amazon (AWS), Google and Microsoft (Azure) offer a huge portfolio of cognitive, analyzing and process-controlling digital services. What dishes are cooked depends solely on the imagination of the chef. No one can predict what dishes are possible with all these machines. The motto is: "gratinated asparagus casserole" instead of ready-made pizza.

With this option, digital cloud applications such as PaaS form the springboard for companies into the digital age. In a study for arvato sytems GmbH, the consulting firm Gartner assumes that 90% of all companies will already be dependent on the use of such digital platform solutions in the implementation of new business models by 2020.

Was aber sind in einem solchen Gedankenmodell die Platform-as-a-Service-Angebote (PaaS)?

Zunächst einmal ist die PaaS ein großer Koffer voller Küchengeräte, die bislang nicht in der eigenen Küche zum Einsatz kamen und die die Möglichkeiten des Kochens radikal verändern. Diese müssen aber nicht aufwendig in der Küche installiert werden, sondern sind sofort via API einsatzbar und praktisch unendlich skalierbar. D.h. es kann sowohl der kulinarische Bedarf einer Eckkneipe als auch der gastronomische Umsatz eines Bierzelts auf dem Oktoberfest als auch die Ansprüche einer Drei-Sterne-Küche mit den Geräten abgedeckt werden.

So konnte das Unternehmen Medtronic mit der Implementierung von Watson beginnen – und damit die Innovationskraft eines kognitiven Systems für eigene Produkte nutzen – ohne selbst ein kognitives System zu programmieren.

So wie Medtronic kann nun jedes Unternehmen (jede Küche) mittels PaaS auf Watson zugreifen. Und nicht nur Watson kann angesteuert werden. Amazon (AWS), Google und Microsoft (Azure) bieten ein riesiges Portfolio an kognitiven, analysierenden und prozesssteuernden digitalen Services an. Welche Gerichte dabei gekocht werden, hängt einzig von der Fantasie des Küchenchefs ab. Niemand kann vorhersagen, welche Gerichte mit all diesen Maschinen möglich sind. Das Motto lautet: „gratinierter Spargelspitzenauflauf“ statt Fertigpizza.

Mit dieser Option bilden digitale Cloud-Anwendungen wie PaaS das Sprungbrett für Unternehmen in das digitale Zeitalter. Das Beratungsunternehmen Gartner geht in einer Studie für die arvato sytems GmbH davon aus, dass bereits im Jahr 2020 90% aller Unternehmen auf den Einsatz von solchen digitalen Plattformlösungen bei der Umsetzung neuer Geschäftsmodelle angewiesen sein werden.

Multi- and Hybrid Cloud Services

Learn more about Arvato Systems' services in the area of Multi- and Hybrid Cloud.

Cloud Transformation with Arvato Systems

Learn more about Arvato Systems' cloud transformation services here.

Written by

Prof. Dr. Roland Frank
Professor Mediadesign Hochschule