The three largest Cloud Service Providers are Amazon, Microsoft and Google. Amazon introduced its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud in 2006. Microsoft launched its Azure cloud service in 2008 and Google introduced its Google Compute Engine cloud service in 2012.
In February 2018 Google disclosed the size of its cloud business (including its G Suite productivity suite) at $1 billion in revenue for the quarter. Amazon’s cloud number is at more than $5 billion in revenue (includes its Workdocs, Workmail, etc. Business Productivity lineup) for its most recent quarter. Microsoft doesn’t provide exact numbers for Azure Cloud, but said its “commercial cloud” lineup (includes the Office 365 productivity suite, the Dynamics 365 software, and Azure) produced $5.3 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter. There are also many small and medium scale cloud operators that include IBM, Oracle etc.
Ladders are everywhere and they come in many different forms to fit different needs. When it comes to the cloud there are usually three models of cloud service to consider – Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS).
IaaS – This usually involves a monthly rental for the servers, storage and network devices you require as opposed to buying it and setting it up inside your premises. It not only helps you save on a large capital expenditure but also helps you outsource the management of the infrastructure. One can develop programs to be run on high performing cloud computing infrastructures. Examples: Amazon EC2, Windows Azure, Rackspace, Google Compute Engine
PaaS – This service is a rung higher on top of IaaS. Platform as a Service is the model of cloud computing that provides the platform on which softwares are developed & deployed. This includes operating systems, hardware, network infrastructure etc. One can develop applications and let them execute on top of a cloud computing environment which take care of the execution. Examples: AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Windows Azure, Heroku, Force.com, Google App Engine, Apache Stratos.
SaaS – This is a rung up on top of PaaS. SaaS moves the task of managing software and its deployment to third-party services. The client usually accesses the application from a web browser. SaaS applications tend to reduce the cost of software ownership by removing the need for technical staff to manage install, manage, and upgrade software, as well as reduce the cost of licensing software. SaaS applications are usually provided on a subscription model. One can use email services and extend email/cloud based applications to form newer applications. Examples: Applications like email (Gmail, Yahoo mail etc), Social Networking sites (Facebook etc), and customer relationship management software (Salesforce CRM).
Most business is already using at least one of these models by subscribing to Amazon Workdocs, Google G Suite, Microsoft Office 365 productivity suites, or Salesforce CRM and then bridging over to other Infrastructure cloud services.
The following diagram shows the management of computing environments in a ladder format.
What does this mean for the business that is moving away from their paper based document intensive processes?
- Choose the highest value paper based document intensive process that you want for digital transformation.
- Map the process to visualize it allowing you to identify necessary improvements to increase your organization’s efficiency. If you are able, develop a Proof of concept (PoC) in order to demonstrate its feasibility with the aim of verifying that the digital transformation has practical potential. A proof of concept is usually small and may or may not be complete.
- Let the business process requirements dictate the technologies that you consider to employ. You may not need to employ a cloud based solution to achieve digital transformation. Process and technology assists may be all you need. Consider involving an external resource with experience in your industry that is also familiar with the different technologies available to automate your process.
Technology is only one part of a digital transformation effort. Operational problem solving, compliance, best practices, documentation and training must all be addressed.