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Cloud applications challenges: myth or reality?

For over 10 years, the Cloud has been transforming business applications and the corporate world, and the trend is not about to stop.
In 2018, SaaS should continue its exponential growth with 60% of cloud workloads according to a Cisco study, an increase of 12%[1] compared to 2017. While users often have high expectations and requirements around cloud applications, are they still really aware of the pitfalls associated with poor governance?

By 2018, Cisco even estimated that the overall cloud data storage capacity will reach 1.1 Zettabytes, almost double that of 2017. This is why users must pay very close attention to the exact scope covered by their service contract.

Is the Cloud really the miracle solution?

According to a recent IDC white paper (September 2017), 68% of the world's businesses use some form of cloud. In France, they account for 67% [2]. Indeed, most users attribute a large number of advantages to the cloud that are alligned with time and cost savings: optimal SLA, security reinforced by the best standards and certifications, reduced time-to-market, on demand and "automagic" scalability, and easy data migration from one cloud to another.

Yet the reality is far from being that simple. Behind the most advanced technologies, no matter how virtual, there are real risk factors: human errors, protection of physical data centres, ability to manage peaks in activity, additional costs linked to inadequate selection of service levels, etc. So many critical points for any company which would not have anticipated the evolution of its usage. Moreover, as part of a multi-cloud strategy, the company could also find itself faced with a lack of interconnectivity between its various clouds, making access to applications slower and less efficient.

Codesign to deliver the promise of the cloud

So how can we avoid these pitfalls? Thanks to a close technological collaboration between the user and the supplier through codesign and co-responsibility. The condition for defining the appropriate design levels (High Level Design, Low Level Design...), and the safety assurance plan (PAS) or quality assurance plan (QAP) adapted to the specific needs of the business. A requirement that only operational departments - aware of the strategic importance of their applications - can meet.

Another asset: enabling teams to concentrate their expertise around their business cases and to rely intelligently on suppliers who manage more technical issues. Finally, co-responsibility makes it possible to clearly identify everyone's responsibility as well as possible gaps: high availability, data protection, intrusion detection, application performance variations, access violations, etc.

Opt for business-oriented governance

The Cloud remains a very prominent trend among operational management. By 2015, more than half of all CRM applications were already in the cloud, according to Gartner[3]. But to achieve objectives - to improve customer relations and the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, or to optimise opportunity management - it is necessary to adapt the existing - and often obsolete - infrastructure to this extension to the Cloud. Only a global vision of future usage can make it possible to design the appropriate architecture.

Indeed, the current digital transformation and the resulting explosion in data volume are forcing companies to evolve from an infrastructure - until now rarely adapted to the cloud and scalability - to a combination of IaaS / SaaS. Beyond this technical migration, it is the paradigm shift linked to the transition from a clean infrastructure and a rapid ROI to an outsourced infrastructure subject to "seasonal" peaks of activity that is essential to understand.

This is why a lack of synergy and governance between internal services and external service providers risks not only slowing application performance but also that of the operational IT teams. Take the case of the banking sector faced with profound upheavals - fintech, the DSP2 directive, open banking, blockchain... In this context, many projects have emerged on a prototype cloud first or lean startup methodology to provide services more quickly to the customer. Nevertheless, some banks have not anticipated the evolution of their practices: opening to the general public, deployment in another country or new customers. As a result, too strict time-to-market has led to numerous lock-in situations among suppliers and considerably affected the security of the application - then postponed - thus opening bank data to a high risk of hacking. Such changes, both technical and cultural, cannot be made without expert support.

Choosing the right approach

This is why companies should rely on a "neutral" expert who can alert them about possible peaks in usage, potential additional costs, and the relevance of the objectives set, but also accompany them in the choice of tools and training of business teams. Another key to success is the ability to address multi-cloud policies through a secure, high-performance and flexible intermediate platform capable of managing all cloud access, regardless of the provider. This is essential for delivering applications and data hosted in the Cloud quickly, reliably and securely, without the constraints imposed by vendors.


[1]Top 5 des tendances du Cloud pour 2018-IT Social

[2]Cloud computing, une opportunité pour l’utilisateur ; un paradoxe pour le DSI-Cloud28+

[3]Gartner says CRM will be at the heart of digital initiatives for years to come-Gartner


Johan Soula

Cyber Security Lead of InterCloud

AWS & InterCloud

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