How Cloud Makes Big Data Better?

Information technology at one time was that exclusive club that allowed only the elite few such as very large organizations and government bodies etc. through its doors. The story is quite different today. The rise and adoption of technologies such as the cloud have led to the democratization of IT, increasing the reach of technology, enabling cost reductions, and providing a plethora of applications to choose from without making any heavy investment. The cloud has given the much-needed horsepower to make the world more software defined. It hardly comes as a surprise that the cloud ranks high up in the priority for organizations across the globe.

Along with the cloud, we have also witnessed the rising importance of Big Data. Big Data has moved from the ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’ initiative as we move deeper into the data economy. The promise of valuable insights to create competitive advantage, drive revenues and spark new innovations are reason enough to bring it on the agenda of all kinds of businesses. As the adoption of Big Data and Cloud continue to increase, we are witnessing a growing interdependence between these two technologies with the promise of phenomenal gains.

How cloud makes big data better?

  1. Convergence – is the name of the game:
    While big data and cloud evolved independently over time, today these two technologies are becoming increasingly intertwined. The growing volumes of data and the need for faster analytics have driven big data to the cloud. Organizations today are looking at new data models derived from structured and unstructured data sources, they need complex event processing applications, they need usage-based compute resources, and they demand greater computing power. With an on-premise data store, processing and analyzing these high volumes of data becomes hard to execute. And given the operational and management costs associated with these on-premise solutions, it does not present itself as an agile and cost-effective solution.
    The cloud, on the other hand, helps in alleviating the enterprise data load and offers not only greater computing power, increased storage, and data agility, it also makes it infinitely easier to analyze and derive faster data insights.
  2. A conversation shift:
    With the conversation moving from ‘where can we store all this data’ to ‘what can we do with all this data’, organizations are moving towards an orientation that is more outcome-based. Clearly, cloud computing and big data are better together. With a growing dependence on data, enterprises are looking at greater effectiveness from big data platforms. With the greater integration of data from both structured and unstructured resources, the big data platform that we need must be highly scalable, elastic, and performance driven. And this can be achieved by leveraging the computing capabilities of the cloud.
  3. The need for greater scalability:
    Performance issues such as latency have no place in the enterprise today. When it comes to analytics, latency can play havoc with performance. The lack of efficient data warehousing and an inability to access real-time BI to answer business queries is a challenge that can be navigated using the cloud. Latency can be brought down efficiently to almost single digit milliseconds using the cloud to create direct interconnections between the data and the analytics. The need for additional processing power can also be addressed with the cloud as it is always there for the taking.
  4. The financial advantage:
    Cost is an obvious advantage of the cloud. On-premise big data storage and analytics can cause a huge drain on the IT budgets as the organization then becomes responsible towards maintaining the big data centers. The cloud, on the other hand, makes no such demand and gives the organizations the flexibility to maintain small and efficient data centers that can be scaled on-demand. The cloud also makes it much easier to gather external data, something that is growing exponentially today. It also enables data access anytime, anywhere without any additional infrastructure demands, thus making it more cost-effective.
  5. Increased collaboration:
    Analytics is collaborative. Collaboration is also a driver of cloud adoption.
    BI and big data analytics work better in the cloud as the cloud provides ready access to data, BI, and processing applications. The cloud makes it possible to share visualizations, share data, and perform cross-organizational analysis. This makes the data analysis available to a distributed user base as well and makes information more accessible to a broader demographic.
  6. Better maintenance and lesser complexity:
    Analytics platforms, like software products, need maintenance. They need frequent upgrades, redesigns, migrations…the list goes on. By moving the analytics platform to the cloud, organizations can ensure that everything remains up-to-date at all times. The cloud also takes away the cost burden of over-provisioning for peak consumption as organizations can access on-demand scalable resources. With the convergence of cloud and big data, today we have cloud-based analytics applications that move the analytics closer to the data. Cloud analytics platforms also take away the effort that goes into putting together a functioning analytics platform. With a ready-to-use data processing and analytics setups, organizations become capable of accessing real-time data-driven insights faster. The can hit the ground running, as it were.

Big Data is only useful when it is used for analytics. It is also clear that the data deluge is only going to increase. And organizations will be hungry to use this rising deluge to their advantage. The key insight from this post is that this will only be possible by multiplying the power of big data with the advantages of the cloud.

5 Technologies that are the Building Blocks of Digital Transformation

Organizations are in the quest to accelerate business activities and offer an exceptional product and customer experiences by driving digital transformation. With 57% of organizations believing that digital transformation is a competitive opportunity, it is without the doubt that technology is enabling organizations to become more agile, responsive, innovative, and efficient in addressing their needs.

The Building Blocks of Digital Transformation

In a highly dynamic and competitive world, having an amorphous digital transformation goal is not enough; what is required is an understanding of the tools and technologies that can enable you to get there. Digital transformation spending is expected to reach $1.7 trillion by the end of 2019. Clearly, leveraging modern technology to significantly drive transformation has become a mandate for organizations around the world. However, only 10 percent of companies around the world describe themselves as fully digital – a significant gap. One of the challenges is the vastness of the scope. Where to start? What technologies will play a role? The questions are many.

Since markets, customer demands, and technology is changing rapidly, leading digital change requires you to embrace modern technologies. This will allow you to evolve with the rapid pace of digital change. Here are 5 technologies that are the building blocks of digital transformation:

  1. Cloud:
    For digital transformation to have a profound impact on business activities, the cloud must play an important role. The cloud offers digital organizations the flexibility to do business from anywhere, freeing them from the hassle of investing in and managing physical IT resources. It offers businesses the scale and speed needed to become agile and focus on continuous transformation. The cloud enables organizations to fuel better collaboration and constantly develop, deploy, deliver, innovate, and implement modern solutions. By offering flexible, on-demand access to resources, the cloud enables organizations to execute plans faster and address the changing needs of the market. With the cloud computing market projected to reach $162 billion in 2020, it is past the time for businesses everywhere to embrace cloud solutions to drive digital transformation.
  2. Mobility:
    A key pillar of digital transformation in today’s fast-paced world is mobility. Digital transformation involves radical reconsideration of how organizations use technology to build new revenue streams or business models. Mobility enables them to do that and achieve a host of benefits: anytime anywhere access to information, improved productivity, better process efficiency, lower operational cost, and an enhanced customer experience. Since mobile technology bridges the gap between the physical and digital world, it helps organizations make use of the right data in the right context at the right time and at the right place. It also fuels better communication and collaboration within the organization – helping organizations make more informed decisions, be more proactive, and engage with their customers and employees better. With 82% of organizations believing mobile is the face of digital transformation, the role that it plays is now self-evident.
  3. Big Data and Analytics:
    In today’s digital economy, organizations need to embrace technology not just to support existing business processes, but also to drive new avenues of competitive differentiation. Big data and analytics are driving organizations to analyze humongous amounts of data and unearth critical insights. They are examining business processes, customer behavior, market trends, and competition data and creating value. Since today’s digital customers are a major catalyst for digital transformation, harnessing the right data helps organizations to understand customer needs, make data-driven decisions, build products and processes to meet those needs, and shape the right experiences for them. As big data and analytics enable organizations to get answers to critical questions in near real-time, it allows businesses to react quickly to change, improve performance, and build competitive advantage.
  4. IoT:
    The Internet of Things is driving substantial transformation across industries by linking critical assets in a connected ecosystem. The data generated from these systems can be used to drive sufficient business value, potentially transforming operations and improving business efficiency. Gartner predicts that 1 million new IoT devices will be sold every hour and that IoT spending will reach $2.5 million per minute by 2021. Using IoT, organizations can extend their enterprise and make the most of the exciting business opportunities for transformative business growth. IoT can help drive industrial automation, derive insights into equipment data, enable predictive maintenance, and improve the safety of the workforce. What’s more, IoT data can also be used to boost efficiency, improve customer experiences, and increase overall business agility.
  5. AI:
    In a bid to drive transformation, organizations across the world are looking at ways of applying Artificial Intelligence to boost their business outcomes. AI is already a key driver of digital transformation across a wide range of sectors. Nearly 9 in 10 businesses believe that AI will serve as a key competitive advantage, and help them explore new opportunities and revenue streams. AI can drive significant automation in the enterprise. It enables organizations to apply a more agile framework for digital transformation and create repeatable, reliable functions that can be used widely. By understanding customer journeys and the outcome of future interactions with customers, AI can also be used to drive personalization in customer engagement – a key expectation of the modern digital customer.

Technology at the Core

The pace at which the world is moving is compelling organizations to embrace modern and innovative technologies. The aim is to become extremely agile, to quickly respond to market changes, and to address customer needs. Digital transformation requires you to leverage the available technology to enhance your business process efficiency and become more competitive. Modern technology advancements such as cloud, mobility, big data and analytics, IoT, and AI, offer a variety of potential business benefits. Picking an area of impact to your business and applying the right technology mix will help you take the first successful step towards digital transformation.

What the widespread adoption of digital transformation means for us?

Digital Transformation – These two words have changed the enterprise as we know it. Given the intense focus on digital, it has become evidently clear that the world will soon be divided into two parts – that of ‘digital leaders’ and of ‘digital laggards’ as per a Harvard Business Report. Unsurprisingly, HBR believes that it is the digital leaders who will outperform the digital laggards. Digital transformation has impacted business models, customer experiences, and operating models. This trend is all about employing digital technologies to business workflows and operations along with customer interactions. The aim is to enhance existing processes and improve the existing modes of interactions and consequently enable new, better, and more relevant products and processes. So pervasive has been the impact of Digital Transformation that it has topped the CIO agenda in 2017 as per a Wall Street Journal report. Having said that, here’s a look at what this widespread adoption of Digital Transformation means for companies like ours who support the organizations that have embarked on this journey.

  1. Web App Development:

    The enterprise today has to keep up with an insatiable demand for apps. It is because of the demand for enterprise-grade, secure, robust, and intuitive applications that organizations developing these apps have had to rethink how applications are created. Development methodologies such as Agile, DevOps, Behaviour Driven Development, and Test Driven Development thus have emerged as key enablers of digital transformation. They give organizations the capability to deliver reliable applications faster. Low-code, rapid application development platforms, also, have been thrust into the spotlight to fuel this digital economy that depends on applications. Given that organizations have to be more consumer-focused in this digital age also means an increased focus on UX. Organizations also have to realize that apps now have to be tightly integrated with existing systems and deliver value to the business. The need for IT agility also means that apps become more customized, simple and modular, and highly secure. App development needs to accommodate these needs. As digital transformation becomes stronger, app development also has to factor in the interfaces with and the working of all networking elements, servers, and databases. Insights into how they are likely to perform under application conditions will become key inputs to delivering service assurance. That is our challenge now.

  2. Mobile App Development:

    The mobile has a decisive role in digital transformation. The growing mobile obsession irrespective of geographical, cultural, and social diversity means that enterprises have to calibrate their digital transformation initiatives around mobile consumerism. For software partners like is, this means mobile app development has to look at emerging technologies such as bot frameworks, machine learning, AI etc. to elevate mobile apps to match consumer expectations and have a transformational business impact. Having a mobile plan for all the disparate systems, and ensuring all legacy applications have a mobile front-end will be imperative. Mobile app developers also have to take into consideration business intelligence and analytics as more enterprises move towards SaaS applications and the cloud. At the same time, traditional mobile apps will make way for intelligent mobile apps that employ cognitive API’s and focus on delivering hyper-personalized UX’s to finely-tuned mobile app experiences. With greater digital proliferation, mobile app development will also move towards amalgamating experiences of the web with the mobile to develop apps that are extendable, performance oriented, highly secure, discoverable, and shareable.

  3. Software Testing:

    The shift towards methodologies such as Agile and DevOps is changing the way software is tested. The need for fool-proof, secure, available, comprehensive, and robust applications has never been greater than today. Owing to this, shift left testing is becoming popular. Here testing is integrated into the development process itself and starts early in the development cycle. Testing in the digital world is not only about finding faults but also about assisting in creating an application that focuses on customer experience. Testing teams have to now not only look at the business aspect but also focus on providing intelligence for business creation. The speed of testing has to increase and thus, we have to implement higher levels of test automation and leverage technologies such as AI and Machine Learning to make testing smarter. Software testing teams also have to focus on ensuring consistent application performance across different platforms, mobile devices, and operating systems, even with an increased focus on UX. Most importantly, test automation initiatives have to be open to evolution in keeping with constantly evolving application demands.

  4. Cloud

    The cloud is a key enabler of digital transformation efforts as it offers enterprises the ease, speed, and scale that businesses need. The digital economy demands application availability. There is no place for latency in this business environment. The cloud emerges as the enabler of efficiencies here to ensure the anytime, anywhere availability of applications and information access. The need for greater computing power, storage, and a robust IT infrastructure can be addressed with the cloud. We have to consider that the cloud will become even more pervasive in enterprises looking at the digital transformation. This is inevitable as it provides enterprises with the capability to continuously innovate, build, test, implement, and experiment with different applications on multiple platforms. Additionally, since digital transformation demands the adoption of a culture of collaboration, it enables people to work more efficiently, to find ways to service customers better, generate revenue, and to find solutions to unsolvable problems. The cloud emerges as its critical enabler of innovation, creativity, and productivity and it has to form a key part of our arsenal.

The true value of digital transformation lies in complete transformation- not just tweaks. This transformation implies disruption and halting a previous trajectory to allow a fundamental change of path. It is only then that you can achieve the goal of digital transformation – to raise the bar and change the ground rules so that you can win in this competitive global economy. And yes, it will be software service partners that will help power that transformation.

What is a Multi-Cloud Strategy and When is it right for you?

The developments around cloud computing just seem to keep coming. With the cloud computing market expected to reach $411 billion by 2020 according to Gartner, the sheer degree of adoption is massive. For organizations, the world over experiencing challenges of market dynamism, competition, and customer demands, cloud computing is helping them to be responsive and relevant.  With cloud computing spending expected to grow at 6 times the rate of IT spending from now through 2020 according to Gartner (again!), there is a high likelihood that you will, sooner or later, consider moving to the cloud (i.e. if you haven’t already!) When you decide to migrate to the cloud to streamline your processes, boost collaboration, and increase accessibility, you will come across a variety of cloud models such as private, public, community or hybrid, and cloud offerings such as IaaS, PaaS or SaaS, as well as cloud architectures such as the multi-cloud. So what is the multi-cloud?

what is multi cloud strategy and when is it right for you

The Growth of Multi-cloud

As cloud computing becomes more and more mainstream, the introduction of new and innovative cloud technologies is inevitable. Although cloud computing started with the placing of workloads on a single cloud – whether private or public – the hybrid cloud quickly became a more attractive option because it gave enterprises more choice over storing their critical and not-so-critical data.

Soon enough, more and more vendors got into the public cloud business – starting with Amazon, and then Google and Microsoft, and now several others as well. Each has their own set of features and capabilities. Organizations were soon spoilt for choice. With such a variety of viable public cloud options, enterprises began to mix them together, both through formal architectural processes and through shadow IT. This signaled the emergence of Multi-cloud strategies.

A lot of times, the terms multi-cloud and hybrid cloud are used interchangeably. But the fact is, they are quite unlike each other.

  • While the hybrid cloud usually consists of a combination of a private and public cloud, the multi-cloud uses more than a single public cloud
  • A hybrid cloud environment refers to different deployment modes (public or private), while a multi-cloud environment refers to services from multiple cloud providers.
  • The multi-cloud enables organizations to avoid dependence on a single public cloud provider – so they can choose to opt for specific services from different public cloud providers and get the best of all their features and benefits.

When is multi-cloud strategy Right for You?

A typical multi-cloud infrastructure allows for the distribution of cloud assets, software, applications, and resources across several cloud-hosting environments. With a typical multi-cloud architecture utilizing two or more public clouds (and in many cases multiple private clouds as well), the reliance on any single cloud provider is eliminated. The benefits of a multi-cloud architecture include choosing price-competitive and feature-rich cloud services from different providers, avoiding vendor lock-in, improved mitigation against disasters, and increasing performance and redundancy.

Many organizations think they can multiply benefits from multi-cloud environments (with the assumption that if they can benefit from one cloud, benefits will multiply if they use multiple clouds!).  But that’s not always the case. It’s not all straight-forward though -there are some specific factors to consider too. Although many businesses can benefit from it, especially those looking to improve reliability, protect privacy, remain flexible, and optimize the cloud experience, a multi-cloud environment is not for all organizations. A multi-cloud strategy makes sense only if:

  • You operate in countries where laws, regulations and corporate policies require enterprise data to physically reside in certain locations. For example, a healthcare organization can choose from multiple providers’ data center regions or availability zones to improve performance and reduce latency.
  • Your business and technical goals require you to leverage price-competitive cloud services. For instance, an automobile manufacturer can take advantage of the speed, capacity, and cost benefits of the storage and workload requirements offered by a particular cloud provider in a particular geography.
  • Your business relies on critical data where data loss or downtime due to a localized component failure in the cloud can have severe consequences. For example, a stock exchange can leverage a multi-cloud environment to ensure round-the-clock availability of data, reduce the likelihood of data loss, or shutdown, and eliminate business interruptions.  
  • You operate in a business environment where responding quickly to changing business requirements is critical for business survival. For instance, retailers who experience sudden spikes in demand during the holiday season can accommodate unexpected surges and meet demands in a more flexible and reliable manner.

Make the Most of Multi-cloud

In a world of constantly changing business requirements and customer preferences, organizations have to embrace the cloud in order to thrive and grow. Deciding to move to the cloud can be critical in improving business flexibility and agility. In that situation, choosing a multi-cloud environment can allow you to get the best features of multiple cloud service providers -a win-win all around.

Hybrid Cloud is Taking Over the Cloud – Why?

The Rise of the Hybrid Cloud – What’s Driving Global Adoption

Cloud computing is no longer just a buzzword. According to reports, the total global public cloud market will be $178B in 2018. The explosion in data sources in recent years and the pressure to use that data meaningfully has driven a further rise in cloud computing. Although the public cloud is comparatively cheaper, there are concerns about security; and while the private cloud offers high levels of security, the cost is substantially more. Therefore, a majority of organizations are looking to opt for hybrid clouds, so as to leverage capabilities of both the private and public cloud. In a highly competitive business environment, hybrid clouds are extremely sought after; this strategy allows organizations to deploy workloads through a mix of cloud variations, with various degrees of integration between them.  

hybrid cloud is taking over the cloud

The Rise of Hybrid Cloud

Enterprises are moving away from on-premises data center systems and are reallocating budgets on IT infrastructure for deployment in cloud environments. Spending on cloud services demonstrates just how rapidly usage has grown; according to IDC, cloud services spending will reach a whopping $266 billion by 2021. Although a shared public cloud offers the convenience of easily scaling infrastructure up and down on-demand, concerns about privacy and security within a shared tenancy arrangement are widespread. That’s where a hybrid cloud comes into the picture; it offers the right mix of IT infrastructure services to meet specific scalability, control, performance, and cost requirements.

A hybrid cloud architecture offers the best of everything: top-notch security for critical workloads (such as financial data and intellectual property), and high performance to run common business processes (such as marketing, and human resources). These cloud services operate independently of one another, although they integrate with each other at various levels. By enabling workloads to interoperate across heterogeneous cloud environments, hybrid cloud bridges data silos, allowing organizations to seamlessly conduct business.

Business Drivers

Hybrid cloud is a coming together of multiple individual cloud infrastructures that remain distinct but are tied by technology that allows data and application portability. The Hybrid cloud takes advantage of the quick provisioning capabilities of the public cloud while also keeping the security and control of private cloud solutions. With Markets and Markets expecting the hybrid cloud market to be $91.74 billion by 2021, the model is being adopted by numerous organizations looking to leverage the direct benefits of both a private and public cloud environment.

  • A major reason why enterprises opt for a hybrid cloud is security. Using both private and public clouds in tandem allows them to pick and choose which data and services they want to keep in the private cloud for added security, and which in the public cloud.
  • The hybrid cloud offers the much-needed on-demand scalability that helps organizations manage any unexpected surges in workload. By enabling workflow automation, organizations can ensure resources can be made available when needed, giving them much-needed agility to efficiently run their business.
  • Hybrid cloud offers the ability to host environments in the public cloud and link them on demand to mission-critical data stored in private clouds, allowing businesses to ensure high performance of applications while simultaneously safeguarding sensitive data from prying eyes.
  • In a highly competitive environment, improving time to market is every organization’s goal. The hybrid cloud environment improves the speed of deployment of applications and services, enabling organizations to offer products and services quickly.
  • Hybrid cloud offers significant advantages in terms of disaster recovery. Although a private cloud would offer total control over data and recovery timelines, it also presents the problem of a single failure point. By migrating at least some of the recovery workload to public servers, companies can get the benefit of speedy restoration while decreasing the chances of complete system breakdown.

The Future of Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid cloud migration is rapidly becoming commonplace across industries due to the benefits of improved security, better cost control, and enhanced disaster recovery. Hybrid cloud will see an upward trend in a variety of industries: in the financial industry, it will help organizations ensure minimum downtime, in the healthcare industry, it will help organizations in limiting information and in the retail sector, it will help in substantial cost savings by scaling resources based on surges in demand. If you’re looking to migrate to the cloud, take a step by step approach in order to realize the benefits of the hybrid cloud in your ever-evolving IT landscape.  

Why the Cloud will Rule the 2017 eCommerce shopping season?

Online retailers are rolling up their sleeves in preparation for the holiday season that is practically upon us. According to a report by IBM online sales have increased by 21.5%, of which 57.2% are mobile shoppers. Global online sales in this period are projected to touch 8.8% of the total retail spending in 2018, a considerable sum when you consider that the industry is geared to haul in $2 trillion in 2017.

That being said, online retailers have their work cut out for them to avoid becoming that bad headline during the blockbuster season. In the past, we have been witness to many such incidents where established retailers buckled under the pressure of high traffic during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. In 2016 we saw the Macy’s website succumb to the holiday e-traffic on the second biggest online shopping day of the year, Black Friday. The year before it was Target and Neiman Marcus, and Best Buy in 2014. Clearly, performance is of strategic importance for eTailers as almost 67% of Millennials and 6% of Gen Xers prefer online shopping to in-store shopping. As time and performance become the ultimate currency, here’s a look at why the Cloud is all set to rule the eCommerce shopping season to help the eTailers pass this stress test.

  1. Speed and Performance:
    The cloud is built for speed and performance and the consumers of today look for just these qualities in an online store. Consumers are looking to access the products, assess and compare them and to proceed to complete the check-out in the shortest possible timeframe. Any lags here, whether it is to load pages or to complete the transaction is only going to lead to cart abandonment. The cloud servers and platforms are designed to give eCommerce sites the advantage of speed with optimal performance.
  2. Scalability:
    An eCommerce store has to be ready to handle seasonal spikes in heavy traffic, especially during the special sale days. The cloud gives an eCommerce store the capability to increase their capacity, in terms of the bandwidth, storage, CPU etc. on-demand, when the eTailers need it. This gives eStores the capability to scale up to cope with the increase in traffic and scale back down when the holiday rush is over. Cloud servers bring operational agility to eCommerce stores and allow them to deal with high traffic much faster than in-house applications or servers.
  3. Security:
    Delivering a secure shopping experience is of paramount importance for eTailers. A number of high-profile data breaches and vulnerabilities have impacted consumer confidence. This means that eCommerce vendors have to ensure that they take all the necessary steps to deliver a secure shopping experience to their consumers. Leveraging cloud managed services, eTailers can easily manage vulnerabilities as the software gets updated automatically regularly. This immediately eradicates vulnerabilities from legacy applications.Additionally, now cloud platforms have their own vulnerability scanning and intrusion detection, and prevention measures which increase the security of the eCommerce platform. The cloud also helps in data protection since all the data is stored securely on the cloud servers. Most cloud providers go for ISO 27001 certifications and various types of security audits to make their solutions more secure for their customers. This allows security layers to be implemented at application, facility, and network levels, thus ensuring complete data protection.
  4. Disaster Recovery:
    The cloud gives eCommerce stores great disaster recovery capabilities. If an eCommerce website is hacked or if the server develops a fault, the consequences would be enormous especially during the holiday season. However, with the backup and recovery solutions provided by cloud server, eTailers can rest easy. The disaster recovery solutions are easy to implement, cost-effective and use the expertise of the cloud hosting company, making the cloud even more attractive for eCommerce.
  5. Greater control and reduced burden:
    One of the greatest advantages that eCommerce stores get with the cloud is that of greater business control. They can reduce the hardware burden, the time and money spent on making software upgrades and their dependence on IT. The cloud gives retailers the flexibility to seamlessly integrate with third-party solutions (ERP, CRM etc.) that often go hand in hand with robust API-driven integration. Product upgrades and changes to the eCommerce sites can be done easily across devices. This helps eTailers improve conversion rates. By leveraging Cloud testing, eTailers can determine how their site will respond under a load based on a set of defined parameters, and from a variety of virtual device types, including smartphones, tablets, and desktops. Along with this the cloud also helps eCommerce sites respond to issues and bugs faster and also provide a connected digital experience across all devices and channels.

Along with getting their marketing plans ready for the holiday season, eCommerce sites have to make sure that this time around they are ready to face the holiday rush. In the growing eCommerce landscape, hope is not a strategy. So, instead of hoping for a good holiday run, prepare for one by leveraging a robust cloud solution to ensure great site performance. Do this to set the cash registers ringing this holiday shopping season!

How the Cloud has Transformed Product Development & Launch?

Today organizations across the globe are leveraging the cloud to boost innovation and productivity within the enterprise and consequently improve their profitability as well. Gartner called the cloud one of the top technology trends back in 2015 and now expects cloud adoption to be worth USD $250 billion this year. Use-cases are also constantly evolving. While the cloud has for long been used to host business applications, given that issues such as security have been mitigated, product development is the cloud is now becoming the new normal.

IT-driven organizations now need the flexibility to work flexibly with a diverse array of technologies that are easily customizable and allow for easier integration. This need for speed and modularity has propelled the rise of SaaS or cloud products that have shaken up traditional development approaches. The traditional, monolithic style of product development has been forced to undergo a radical overhaul. Organizations today need to be more agile and responsive. They must ensure that they reduce their time to market and release features faster while creating new foundations that allow integrations and continuous deployments. In this blog, we look at how the cloud has given product development, and launch a new age facelift.

More value and Less pain:
With the cloud, product development organizations today can save themselves the pain of managing and maintaining complicated and time-consuming tools and technologies. Cloud products generally employ a common hardware infrastructure, are served from a common software instance and, often, use a common code base. This has made product development more cost-effective, manageable, and maintainable.

Speed of Development:
The traditional software development cycle has been thought of as long and time-consuming. Here the product must go back and forth amongst development, QA, and deployment or operations teams before it is finally ready for release. Clearly, such long development cycles have no place in today’s business environment that demands work to be done at light speed. Businesses should make sure that they release upgrades and patch fixes faster so that they can remain relevant in today’s competitive market place. Software development cycles have become crunched, teams have become cross-functional, release cycles have become shorter, and MVP-like iterative development has become the norm. The cloud makes the software development cycle more efficient as developers can just focus on building, testing and deploying the application and do not have to worry about the infrastructure demands.

Collaboration:
Cloud product development gives software engineers the benefit of real-time collaboration which ultimately helps in developing a superior product. Unlike traditional software development teams, software development in the cloud does not take a siloed approach and provides developers the capability to collaborate real-time in a distributed environment without worrying about customizing or upgrading existing tools or installing new tools.

The Importance of Testing:
While traditional software development used testing at the end of the development cycle, cloud product development places testing at the core of development. This change in the development methodology helps in building a product incrementally, in lesser time and with fewer defects. Since a cloud product is used by multiple users, testing application performance in conjunction with the shared resources becomes central to ascertaining application performance. In addition, testing for SLA adherence, interface backward compatibility, multi-privilege tests etc. become essential. Development and testing are brought much closer together.

The Changed Launch:
Product launches too have changed considerably in the age of the cloud. Testing product concepts has become much easier for one as information generated from connected systems can be accessed from anywhere and anytime.

Product launches have also become more fast-tracked. Platforms, frameworks, and backend services are all offered as a service under the cloud umbrella and hence developers do not need to spend time focusing on getting these in place before they get working. The cloud has also helped address the problem of capacity planning for organizations and development teams. Applications can scale easily so developers can make updates and releases without worrying about additional infrastructure investments or setting up additional computing resources. Load balancing has become easier with the cloud and has taken outage worries away with the help of load balancers and content delivery networks.

It can be said that with the cloud, product launches have become faster and easier as some of the major pain points that plagued development teams in the past have been removed.

Today organizations have turned to the cloud to optimize their development process, lower their application maintenance and operations costs, and to improve their cost efficiency. In the process, software product development and launch too have got a much-needed facelift.

Private vs. Public vs. Hybrid Cloud – When to choose what?

Today, it’s fair to say that almost all organizations have either moved or are planning a move to the cloud owing to the operational flexibility it offers. Statistics prove as much – consider these as a sample. According to the “2016 State of the Cloud Report” by RightScale, in 2016, the Private Cloud adoption rate stands at 77%, up from 63% in 2015. Hybrid cloud adoption rates increased to 71% in 2016 from 58% year on year, and Enterprise Cloud adoption increased to 31% from 13% in 2015. Gartner estimates that the global public cloud market is expected to grow approximately 18% in 2017 to a tick over to USD$246.8 billion. Further, almost 74% of tech CFO’s credit cloud computing for delivering the most measurable impact on their business this year. Given the wide scale adoption, over the years we have witnessed three main cloud models appear – private, public and hybrid clouds. However, the question remains, which one is the most suitable for your enterprise? In this blog, we take a look at these three models and assess when to use which one.

The Public Cloud

In the Public Cloud space, Windows Azure, Amazon Cloud Services and Rackspace are big players. Amazon elastic compute cloud (EC2) for example, provides the infrastructure and services over the public internet and are hosted at the cloud vendor’s premises. The general public, SMEs or large enterprise groups can leverage this cloud model. Here the infrastructure is owned by the company that provides the cloud services. In a public cloud, the infrastructure and services are provisioned from a remote location hosted at the cloud provider’s datacenter and the customer has no control and limited visibility over where the service is hosted. But they can use those services anytime anywhere as needed. In the Public Cloud, the core computing infrastructure is shared among several organizations. That said, each organization’s data, applications, and infrastructure are separated and can only be accessed by the authorized personnel.

The Public Cloud offers advantages such as low cost of ownership, automated deployments, scalability and also reliability. The Public Cloud is well suited for the following:

  • Data storage
  • Data Archival
  • Application Hosting
  • Latency intolerant or mission critical web tiers
  • On demand hosting for microsite and application.
  • Auto-scaling environment for large applications.

The Private Cloud

A Private Cloud, as the name suggests, is a cloud infrastructure that is meant for use exclusively by a single organization. The cloud is then owned, managed and operated exclusively by the organization or by a third-party vendor or both together. In this cloud model, the infrastructure is provisioned on the organization premise but may be hosted in a third-party data center. However, in most cases a Private Cloud infrastructure is implemented and hosted in an on-premise data center using a virtualization layer. Private cloud environments offer greater configurability support to any application and even support those legacy applications that suffer from performance issues in Public Clouds.

While the Private Cloud offers the greatest level of control and security, it does demand that the organization purchase and maintain all the infrastructure and acquire and retain the skill to do so. This makes the Private Cloud significantly more expensive and a not-so-viable option for small or mid-sized organizations.

Choosing a Private Cloud makes sense for:

  • Organization that demand strict security, latency, regulatory and data privacy levels.
  • Organizations that are highly regulated and need data hosted privately and securely.
  • Organizations that are large enough to support the costs that go into running a next-gen cloud data center.
  • Organizations that need high-performance access to a filesystem such as in media companies.
  • Hosting applications that have predictable usage patterns and demand low storage costs.
  • Organizations that demand greater adaptability, configurability, and flexibility.
  • Hosting business critical data and applications.

The Hybrid Cloud

So, what does an organization do when it wants to leverage the cloud both for its efficiency and cost saving but also wants security, privacy, and control? It looks at the Hybrid Cloud which almost serves as a mid-way point between Public and Private Cloud. The Hybrid Cloud uses a combination of at least one Private and one Public Cloud. The Private Cloud can be on-premise or even a virtual private cloud located outside the organization’s data center. A Hybrid Cloud can also consist of multiple Private and Public Clouds and may use many active servers, physical or virtualized, which are not a part of the Private Cloud. With the Hybrid Cloud, organizations can keep each business aspect in the most efficient cloud format possible. However, with the Hybrid Cloud, organizations have to manage multiple security platforms and aspects and also ensure that all the cloud properties can communicate seamlessly with one another.

A Hybrid Cloud is best suited for:

  • Large organizations that want the flexibility and scalability as offered by the public cloud.
  • Organizations that offer services for vertical markets- customer interactions can be hosted in the Public Cloud while company data can be hosted in the Private Cloud.
  • Organizations that demand greater operational flexibility and scalability. For them, mission critical data can be hosted on the Private Cloud and application development and testing can take place in the Public Cloud.

Given today’s’ dynamic and increasingly complex business environment, organizations have to constantly reevaluate their cloud infrastructure, whether Public, Private or Hybrid, to ensure that the cloud delivers on its promise. Since there are different security and management demands for each of these cloud models, organizations have to ensure that they select their application candidates for the cloud wisely so that they can foster innovation and improve agility by leveraging their IT resources optimally. What would your choice be?

My 2017 Software Industry Predictions

It’s that time of the year when we look into our crystal balls and make predictions for the year ahead. 2016 was a phenomenal year for the technology world. Technologies that emerged over the last few years, such as cloud, firmly planted their feet within the enterprise. Businesses changed their maneuvers to leverage their digital infrastructures and found new paths to engage with their customers and make their operations more efficient. What became increasingly evident over the past year was that the IT landscape had to change to accommodate the business challenges and that the enterprise was ready to adapt to the change brought forward by technological innovation. Here’s a look at what the year ahead promises – in my view at least.

  • New technologies provide new business opportunities
    2016 witnessed the rise of technologies such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, IoT, Machine Learning etc. Forrester Research believes that Augmented Reality will be one of the top five technologies that will completely change the world over the course of the next three to five years. Consumers have been receptive towards these new technologies. Look at the success of Pokemon Go if you are looking for examples. As consumers become more open to adopting and experimenting with new technologies, it opens up new possibilities for organizations to create new opportunities by amalgamating data, mobile devices, applications to understand customer journeys better. We can thus expect to see tech budgets focus more on business technology in this new year.
  • Mobile testing all the way
    The World Quality Report 2016-17 discovered that while a large number of organizations were taking advantage of mobile solutions, mobile testing skills were relatively in their nascent stages in the development lifecycle. The lack of mobile testing experts and fragmented testing methodologies seems to have contributed to this. In 2017, however, as the number of consumer and enterprise grade mobile applications grow in demand and adoption, we can expect to see mobile testing strategies becoming more mature. Involving test engineers in the development process from the very beginning will be an assured way of improving business outcomes by delivering high quality and optimally performing app.
  • The future is cloudy
    IDC estimates that by 2020 “67% of enterprise IT infrastructure and software will be for cloud-based offerings.” We can expect to see more organizations move away from the on-premise infrastructure and adopt the cloud. As the demand for agility increases, digital transformation increases and more number of companies become global, organizations will be looking towards adopting cloud to drive innovation.
  • Test automation will become more mainstream
    To remain competitive, organizations will have to speed up their application development process. As the need for speedy deployments increases, 2017 will witness test automation become more mainstream. The focus on automation will be a great deal more as automation and new levels of testing to match the speed of development. Testing and application performance management tools will evolve more and provide organizations a more holistic view of their application development process and allow them to test new features.
  • The rise of Performance Engineering
    2017 is also expected to witness a greater impetus placed on performance to deliver best user experiences. To enable this, organizations will no longer just depend on performance tests but will increasingly focus on performance engineering to deliver consistent and uniform application performance across diverse platforms, devices, and operating systems.
  • Shift in the enterprise application landscape
    We can expect to see greater consumerization of enterprise applications. Instead of clunky enterprise apps, 2017 will usher in the era of consumer-quality enterprise applications that have intuitive user interfaces and an easily navigable information architecture even in the most complex systems. As multi-device collaboration becomes more mainstream, accessing files and information will become seamless across devices.
  • Agile Outbreak
    One of the biggest trends of 2017, I believe will be that the application of agile concepts will step out of the software/product development mode and will be applied in a much wider organizational context. Agile principle derivatives will become increasingly common in areas such as design/ merchandising strategy, design thinking, growth hacking etc. and forge interdisciplinary collaborations. Methodologies such as DevOps and Continuous delivery will also adopt agile to improve outcomes and build products, as well as organizations, that can be said to be well tested and bug-free. This means integrating testing into the build model. At an organizational level, agile concepts will be implemented to improve quality by ensuring scalability, availability, easy maintenance and simplification of complex systems. Agile concepts like transparency, inspection, continuous learning, process focus, flexibility, shorter feedback loops that can benefit each and every aspect of an organization will see greater adoption.

It is certainly a very exciting time to be in this industry as we gear up to face another year that’s full of technological potential and gear up to usher in the ‘age of the customer’.

4 Crucial Aspects Of Cloud Selection and Implementation

Cloud computing is a new way of doing business. A lot of companies, both big and small, are considering moving to the cloud to make their business more organized and efficient. This allows them to stop worrying about IT infrastructure and concentrate on other aspects that will help in business expansion in the future. But there are some factors that are absolutely important when you are considering this migration. The move will directly or indirectly affect your security and privacy issues, risk management practices, compliance, auditing and many other such issues. Here are four of the most important aspects you need to take into consideration to ensure that the move takes place smoothly:

  1. Reliability and Security:
    Shifting to the cloud is going to be a big change for the systems, data management and overall functionality of your organization. While the model for how IT services are delivered and consumed may be in for a change, the end objectives will be the same, hence it is very important that the new solutions support all the elements that are vital for the end users. Even small glitches in the cloud implementation could lead to major problems in the functioning. Your cloud may be a test bed for new services and applications, developers are working on or it may be running your payroll. No matter what the purpose of the cloud is, users expect it to function perfectly every minute of the day. Hence, it is important that you choose a cloud service that is completely available, reliable and secure. Ensure that it has the capability to continue to operate and keep the data intact in the virtual datacenter even if a failure occurs in some component. Additionally, if the cloud architecture is dealing with a shared resource pool, security and multi-tenancy need to be integrated into all aspects of the process. Services must be seen to be secure and reliable to gain the trust of the users that their data and applications are secure.
  2. Selecting the right provider:
    Know what your exact cloud computing needs are so that you can dictate the type of services you choose from your specific provider. Aspects such as available data storage, pricing structure and accessibility need to be clearly defined before taking the first steps. For basic storage, software-based cloud offerings such as Dropbox may work best. If you are looking for more than basic data storage, with an IT infrastructure and on-demand access to virtual servers, vendors such as IBM, SmartCloud Enterprise, GoGrid and Amazon Web Services would be best. If you want access to specific business solutions you should be turning to the Saleforce and other SaaS providers of the world. In terms of pricing, do thorough research before making a decision and make sure that you are only paying for what you use. Ideally, the pricing scheme should come with options to add services as needed. Pricing for cloud implementation services varies significantly, from as low as $1 per month to $100 a month.
  3. Business advantages:
    You are taking the big step of cloud implementation but what you want to focus on is how the move will affect your business and help expand it. In this case, you need to listen to what your service provider is promising you. Make sure that your provider is not focused only on technology outcomes. It may deliver excellent technology but may not be relevant to your business. Opt for a provider whose solutions can help you with high customer retention or streamlined product delivery. For this, choosing a service provider with your specific vertical market as a focus could help. To gain maximum benefits from cloud implementation, try to communicate your business objectives clearly to your provider. Thus they can be more involved in the process of business expansion and give their inputs during their time of decision-making.
  4. Regulatory compliance:
    The Cloud move can involve the transmission of data across uncontrolled internet connections that are susceptible to interception and monitoring. Most cloud-based services are secure and use different forms of encryption either via web-based communications (eg. SSL or TLS over HTTPS) or through secure applications. However, the effectiveness of the encryption may depend on a number of factors and the actual algorithms may fall short of the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) encryption requirements. At the same time, cloud services that make use of proprietary transmission software may require validation in order to meet the Government standards. Hence it is very important that the cloud provider you choose has all the provisions to maintain regulatory compliance so that it meets any applicable industry regulations, allowing your business to grow smoothly and flourish.

Conclusion:
Cloud computing is a big move. Data centers are now delivering highly reliable and highly scalable services to clients, but it is up to those enterprises making the move to pick the right service provider and the right set of features their business demands. Look at the factors of value to your business and make your choice – and if you have already made the move then help the rest of us out – let us know how you went about making your choice?

Key Considerations in Cloud Application Testing

Cloud applications that are developed ‘on’ the cloud or applications that are developed ‘for’ the cloud, are very different from traditional web applications. The biggest advantages of cloud applications are that they are cost efficient and scalable and are built using more modern technologies such as CSS3, HTML5, jQuery, JavaScript etc. At the same time, cloud applications have to be multi-tenant, highly configurable, secure, fault-tolerant and to provide business advantage. This would suggest that testing cloud applications is very different from testing traditional applications.

At the high level, testing cloud applications consists of validating the applications with data, business workflows, compliance, network/application security, performance, scalability as well as compatibility to build robust applications. Unlike web application testing, cloud testing remains relatively unaffected by versioning, server installation, multi-platform testing or backward compatibility. The focus here is more on security, SLA adherence, deployment, access, interfaces between components and failovers.

In this blog, we take a look at some key considerations that testers have to give special consideration to when testing cloud applications, many of which are dependent on the infrastructural nature of the cloud.

  1. Performance Testing
    Since cloud applications run on hardware that is shared and testers have no control over, performance testing of the application and the required scalability become essential. Running load tests on the application and the shared resources simultaneously, thus, become imperative to evaluate if the performance of the application is impacted in any way. Testers also need to evaluate response times, latency, response codes, errors, deviations etc. and isolate the issues that cause a performance dip with increasing loads or multi-user operations. Testing also has to take into consideration the number of concurrent users accessing the application from multiple geographical locations.
  2. Security Testing
    Since cloud applications share infrastructure and resources, testers need to perform a high degree of security testing to ensure data integrity and security. Testers, thus need to implement security testing in the form of SQL injections, testing cookies, cross-site scripting, multi-tenant isolation, access validations for roles and application data. They need to address accessibility concerns by performing multi-privilege tests and access control tests to ensure that one tenant’s data cannot be accessed by another. Security testing also assumes a very important role to ensure compliance according to government standards. Considering the infrastructure on which the application is hosted is owned and managed by someone else, testers need to create security tests within, without and across the cloud infrastructure system and the application itself to ensure the security of business data and the application.
    Testers also need to consider testing the network to control access, sensitive data flow, and encryption along with testing the network bandwidth to ensure data availability and its transfer from the cloud application to the network.
  3. Third-party dependencies
    Testers need to test third party dependencies since cloud applications are most likely to consume external API’s and services to provide certain functionalities. Testers thus need to monitor and test these API’s as a part of their own solution to make sure the application functions in the manner that it should and identify any associated deterrents of performance.

Testing of cloud applications has to be a proactive process considering the frequent upgrades and releases, especially live upgrades, interface upgrades etc. that are made to the application. Hence, testers need to ensure that any of the new changes do not impact the existing functionality of the application. For this, they need to ensure that validating the changes are prompt and do not cause any performance bottlenecks. Since the software teams developing cloud applications move fast, testing needs to be more organized, documented and defined. Hence having a detailed testing plan that defines the scope of testing, the elements that need to be tested and test definitions to produce quality releases and delivering fool-proof applications.

Conclusion

There is no escaping the cloud services(services of cloud) in today’s business environment – more and more applications will get built with the cloud in mind and testing services looks set to change as a result. For those reading this post – how has the cloud impacted your testing practices?

A Cloud Migration Checklist

An increasing number of enterprises today are migrating to the Cloud. A survey conducted by RightScale, a cloud automation vendor, confirmed this trend and revealed that:

  • 93% of respondents reported that they are adopting the cloud.
  • 88% of the respondents reported using the public cloud.
  • 63% of the respondents use the private cloud.
  • 58% of respondents use both private and public cloud.

Migrating to the cloud presents enterprises with some obvious benefits. Increased availability, better performance and clear cost benefits are some of the obvious advantages of moving to the cloud. Research conducted by various agencies such as Gartner, Ovum, Forrester, International Data Corporation (IDC) and others agree – “the global SaaS market is projected to grow from $49B in 2015 to $67B in 2018, attaining a CAGR of 8.14%.” and by 2019 cloud applications will account for worldwide mobile traffic. Goldman Sachs also estimates that the “cloud infrastructure and platform market will grow at a 19.62% CAGR from 2015 to 2018, reaching $43B by 2018”

However, when migrating to the cloud enterprises have to ensure that their initial footprint in the cloud is compatible with the technology stack present in the cloud platform of their choice. They also have to ensure that the platform is able to scale comfortably to suit growing business and user requirements. Thus taking a strategic approach becomes an essential part of cloud migration and consider how the enterprise intends to do business so that this can become an inherent part of the cloud strategy.

Cloud migration is the process in which data, applications or other business elements are moved from onsite computers to a cloud infrastructure or are moved from one cloud infrastructure to another. In this post, we will shine the light on some essential components of a cloud migration checklist. We hope this will help enterprises looking to migrate to the cloud do so seamlessly and help them reap the real benefits of this move.

Network architecture:
To take complete advantage of the cloud, enterprises need to make sure that their network infrastructures are set up for this. Traditional network infrastructures may suffer poor application performance or even expose themselves to security vulnerabilities. Thus before making the move to the cloud enterprises need to make sure that their network is well-designed and cloud-optimized by ensuring routing optimization, reliability, and low latency in WAN performance, and ensuring device support. Taking a holistic approach to the network architecture thus, becomes the foundation of successful cloud migration.

Application architecture:
While moving applications to the cloud might look simple, in reality, this takes a lot of careful planning for great execution. Before migrating applications to the cloud, architects need to evaluate if legacy applications need to be replaced and assess which applications will get the most out of the cloud investment by doing an inventory assessment and then plan the application move. Typically, enterprises should avoid moving systems in large chunks and should ensure that these systems or application first-movers are not the most business critical and tricky. Mission-critical workloads, legacy application, sensitive data might not be the best first movers to a public cloud. Treating the cloud as a logical extension of the current landscape and assessing application dependency thus becomes an essential part of the cloud migration check-list.

Business continuity plan:
Having a business continuity plan should also form an essential plan of the cloud migration journey as vulnerabilities, natural or man-made (think the Japan earthquake or the Amazon outage in 2011) can sometimes disrupt business. Enterprises need to build diversity into the disaster recovery and business continuity systems and should be able to run on a number of different infrastructures. Evaluating options for business continuity and designing systems and configurations that can enable a high level of automation should find a significant spot on a cloud migration check-list.

Evaluating costs:
So, should you opt for a private cloud, public cloud or hybrid cloud? While cost efficiency is a big reason of why enterprises move to the cloud, it is important to remember that financial benefits differ from one application to another. Applications using legacy hardware can be more expensive to run in the cloud. Identifying the technical requirements, gathering performance data, and identifying if there shall be any hidden expenses when migrating to the cloud can help in planning the network and bandwidth costs and for deciding which cloud flavor will best suit the enterprise.

Governance and security:
Since traditional on-premise systems will not work as-is in the cloud, enterprises have to take a look at evaluating their governance approaches. As most of the governance responsibility rests on the cloud providers once the move to the cloud is complete, enterprises need to reshape their governance strategies to rely more on the offerings by the cloud than on their internal security. Assessing the cloud providers’ security certifications thus becomes important. Planning ahead for any fail overs, potential breaches and disaster recovery also becomes a critical part of a cloud migration check-list.

Conclusion:
As enterprises assess the benefits and risks of a move to the cloud, it is important to note that cloud migration does not have to be an ‘all or nothing’ proposition. With careful assessment, enterprises can begin with first moving some applications and services to the cloud and continue to operate the rest on-premise. Once all the boxes in this check-list have been crossed then enterprises can avail rapid cloud transformation and embrace the power offered by the cloud.