Decisions are made in the cloud, now we must act

Earlier this month the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced plans to appoint a Chief Digital Officer tasked with making London the world’s leading smart city. Khan referenced how technology is being used to enable organisations to make faster, better decisions, and the truth is that most of that decision making process is taking place in the cloud.

You only have to look at the recent financials from the likes of Amazon and Microsoft to see how rapidly cloud adoption is taking hold. AWS revenue has increased more than 55% year on year, while Azure is expected to deliver around $20bn in 2018.

In the UK, both cloud giants have recently brought data centres online, which less than a year since the Brexit referendum sparked industry fears over tech giants investing in the country, suggests digital transformation initiatives are continuing unabated. Indeed, recent research conducted by Computing and Colt proposes that it’s difficult to overstate the momentum of the move to the cloud.

Historically speaking, when the research was first conducted in 2013 more than two thirds of respondents were not using the cloud at all. But by 2016, 63% had partial cloud adoption and in 2017, 20% are now pursuing a “cloud-first” strategy. By 2019, 40% expect to be doing so in line with digital aspirations.

To refer back to the Lord Mayor’s point, the scale of the compute power offered up by the cloud confers the level of agility that digital business requires, since making decisions on the back of historical data is no longer good enough. The cloud allows organisations to spin up the tools in minutes to turn unending quantities of unstructured data into decisions to put them at the forefront of the digital marketplace.

But that decision making takes place off campus, often in a data centre run by a third party, so accessing the data and acting on those decisions is now a critical consideration. However, enterprise networking is still largely based on a traditional model, similar to the enterprise IT market before the cloud. Lead times are still measured in weeks, bandwidths are fixed and configuration changes need to be manually requested.

Technological developments in Software Defined Networking (SDN) have enabled the introduction of on demand network services, bringing the cloud experience to connectivity. Customers have direct control over their services via a customer portal, and new connections can be delivered in near real-time with bandwidths that can be flexed up and down to meet application demand.

Both Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Service (AWS) are now enabled on Colt’s On Demand platform, allowing connections to the Azure cloud in real time from 200 data centres and 5,000 enterprise buildings, or giving the over one hundred thousand UK-based customers already using existing AWS Regions the leverage to run their applications and store their data on infrastructure in the UK.

Of course, while the benefits of SDN are becoming clear to the enterprise in terms of the on demand capability we have grown so used to expect as consumers, it’s also transforming businesses behind the scenes. SDN is transforming our own network, but it is also driving our business processes and the way our teams collaborate in much the same way that many of our customers undergoing the digital transformation process are experiencing now.

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