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The last two years saw cloud technology heavily encouraged across almost every sector. For businesses wishing to thrive in the chaos of the pandemic, the move to cloud environments became a necessity amidst the shift to remote work and the frequent inability to access data centers.
As a result, more businesses than ever — including many in established industries such as manufacturing, retail and healthcare — have accelerated their adoption of cloud-first models and strategies. This approach is empowering these industries with more agility and efficiency in what has been a very uncertain time for the world and thus, for business.
But how exactly have businesses in these established sectors managed this impressive shift, and what impact has being cloud-first had on their operations and customers?
Cloud services are helping regulated industries thrive
Healthcare is a great example of an industry that has the ability to transform societies for the better but is often hamstrung in its efforts, partially due to the sensitivity of the data it handles. This is where the cloud comes in — it can help healthcare leaders balance progress and change with efficiency and security.
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In India, for instance, the government launched a new project, eHealth Infra, to help the nation’s underprivileged gain access to a public health insurance scheme.
In the past, regulatory and data privacy concerns would have stymied efforts like this. However, private cloud services have caused many of those concerns to fade away.
As a result, the project has since been joined by 26 states and covers 45-47% of the Indian population, providing the consistent connectivity that enables citizens to reliably enroll in the service.
Finance is another industry that deals with strict regulation concerns due to the sensitive data it handles, in addition to legacy technology concerns. However, since digital-native fintechs started using their cloud-enabled nimbleness to provide customers with next-generation services, established financial institutions have had to reconsider their strategies in favor of more cloud-first approaches. Moving to cloud services has allowed these traditional institutions to increase efficiency and security, offering their customers the same high-quality experience that born-in-the-cloud, new-age fintechs offer.
Physical businesses are going cloud-first for more efficiency
Even in the incredibly physical world of manufacturing, businesses are finding new ways to adopt cloud-first models. Manufacturers need to keep track of numerous moving parts, from assembly on factory floors to the timely delivery of raw materials. And while some operations are external, in the case of manufacturing execution, workloads need to be closer to the factory floor.
So, in these instances, businesses need a distributed channel of technology platforms to leverage edge computing and bring cloud technology closer to on-premise deployments. By using cloud tools to optimize operations and bring all these disparate actions into a single view, a manufacturer can dramatically improve its operations’ efficiency and reduce production timelines, which helps it to sustainably expand.
Cloud service: The cloud-first model in action
While the advantages of a cloud-first strategy are many, as noted above, it’s also instructive to see how a specific business works with the cloud to gain these benefits.
A great example is the case of a large retailer that specializes in designer fashion, accessories and furniture. It was looking to accommodate the growing number of data and applications accruing as it rapidly scaled up, both physically and digitally.
It also wanted to flexibly support traffic spikes during periods of discount sales, festivals and holiday seasons — all while maintaining its systems’ security and controlling its costs of ownership and maintenance.
By shifting the bulk of its processes, including its critical workloads, to a private cloud, the retailer was able to address all of these requirements, enabling higher performance, security and instant scale-up.
Additionally, with a partner helping it tailor a cloud solution to its specific needs, the retailer created secure IP and VPN connectivity among its different sites, allowing for speedy data archiving, billing and real-time backup services to protect against data failover incidents.
With the implementation of cloud services, the retailer now has a high-performing, secure, private environment with an availability guarantee of 99.9%. It can instantly spin up additional resources as and when it needs to, so it can cope better with the rapid opening of new outlets and the exponential growth in data that goes with that.
And with the 24-hour, 365-days-a-year maintenance and support it receives from its cloud provider — a perk of being a large customer — it can easily acquire additional on-demand resources to help deal with seasonal traffic spikes.
Embracing the cloud-first paradigm
Consumers are one of the most powerful factors driving organizations to change. We now live in a world that, for the sake of accessibility, must be internet-first. And that affects every business and institution the public interacts with in any fashion.
For instance, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has an internet-first policy that states, “all new health and social care digital services should be internet facing and existing services should be changed to be made available over the internet as soon as possible.”
But businesses looking to make this transition must understand that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy that established sectors can take. That’s why it’s crucial that every business begin by looking inward to see how a cloud-first approach could benefit it, as well as outward for a partner to help it successfully make the transition as non-disruptively as possible.
We all know cloud technology will be part of every organization’s future. The true winners in the coming years will be those that figure out not only how to optimize their present operations with a cloud-first strategy, but how cloud services they adopt can help them lay the groundwork for exponential growth in the future.
Rajesh Awasthi is Vice President & Global Head of Managed Hosting and Cloud Services at Tata Communications
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