Cloud

Cloud is a business tool

The cloud has evolved significantly in recent years, offering powerful services like Amazon EKS and SageMaker. However, the question remains: How can organizations harness these tools to gain a competitive edge? This challenge prompts fewer clear-cut answers.

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14 minutos

Date of publication:

April 27, 2024

Table of Contents

Migrating to the cloud is a story we already know.

This is a common response when conversations about cloud computing arise. Truly, the cloud is an old story. We are already very familiar with the features, advantages, and inherent implications of concepts like elasticity, self-service, or serverless. The computing capabilities delivered to us by the cloud today are infinitely superior to what we could have imagined 10 years ago. For instance, fundamental services for elastic computing like those offered by @EKS (Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes) have only been available since 2018, and services like Amazon @SageMaker (Service for training and deploying machine learning models) were first launched in 2017.  Nowadays, organizations have adopted these and other services into their technological DNA and have developed mastery around their use. However, when it comes to discussing how the cloud becomes a competitive advantage to stay top-of-mind with customers and allies, we find fewer answers.

Why cloud?

At Tech and Solve, for over 5 years, we have been building dozens of Cloud Native applications and modernizing many others that were built under the on-premises model. During this time, we have noticed that the decision criteria that answer the question “Why cloud?” mostly exist within a technological context, focusing on attributes such as elasticity, availability, scalability, security, and other factors that dominate the decision-making process. In contrast, organizational capabilities like accelerating time-to-market to transform it into speed-to-market, or capabilities that enable the organization to quickly test their business hypotheses using technology, are often overshadowed, and blurred by cloud services.

In general terms, organizations make or acquire technology in one of the following 4 scenarios:

Technology is a means for the organization to develop strategic capabilities. For example, we need to increase our market share in online sales.  To achieve that, the solution could lie in a new e-commerce platform project.

The technological assets owned by the organization hinder the efficient achievement of strategic or tactical objectives within the organization. Going back to the previous example, where there is a need to increase market share in online sales, the organization may encounter the inconvenience that its inventory system does not provide means to integrate with the e-commerce platform. At this point, modernizing the inventory system becomes a challenge to be resolved.

For an organization, it has a significant reputational impact when its customers are the first to identify flaws in the technological service. This instability creates mistrust in consumers and drives them to become interested in the competition. On the other hand, efficient utilization of technological resources is important for any organization that cares about money.

The proper use of technology is an enabler for innovation. Currently, there are many trends on which an organization can rely to iterate rapidly on a technological solution and gain quick insights from its customers regarding that solution

AWS as a business tool

AWS is the most widely used cloud platform worldwide, capturing 32% of the market (see report). Major digital organizations such as Netflix, PlayStation, HBO, Nintendo, Hulu, Slack, among others, have trusted AWS as their strategic ally responsible for their infrastructure. It is not clear whether due to this demand or to attract this demand, AWS has evolved rapidly, offering increasingly more services that satisfy to different needs throughout the lifecycle of cloud-based technological solutions. With improvements to current services and new releases, AWS has made over 100 announcements in May 2023 alone. This is just a sight of AWS’s connection to the ever-growing market needs.

Every year, Gartner publishes a report on the top 10 strategic technology trends that will impact businesses in the next 3 years.  Its 2023 version focuses on technologies that enable capabilities around 4 key factors

  • Optimization: Optimizing resilience, operations, or trust.
  • Scalability: Increasing productivity and customer value by improving solutions, product delivery, and connectivity.
  • Pioneers: Pioneering customer engagement, accelerated responses, and opportunity.
  • Sustainable Technology: Pursuing sustainable technological solutions.

Below, we present the Tech and Solve perspective on how AWS services support these 4 themes: Optimization, Scalability, Pioneers and Sustainable Technology

Optimization

These technological trends optimize systems to enhance reliability, improve data-driven decision-making, and address productive environments for AI systems. This group includes the following trends:

1. Digital Immune System

Gartner defines Digital Immune System as the combination of different software engineering strategies to create a better customer experience. To achieve this goal, organizations must implement observability, utilize intelligent automation, and have extensive test coverage that favors cost-efficiency, all with the aim of fostering customer loyalty through resilient and secure service

2. Applied Observability

Applied Observability focuses on analyzing the data collected by Observability tools using AI techniques to enable faster and more accurate decision-making.

3. AI TRiSM

TRiSM stands for Trust, Risk, and Security Management. Gartner defines AI TRiSM as a framework that supports the governance, trustworthiness, fairness, robustness, effectiveness, and privacy of AI models

AWS Observability

The observability capabilities of AWS enable the collection, correlation, aggregation, and analysis of network telemetry, infrastructure, and application data in cloud, hybrid, or on-premises environments to understand the behavior, performance, and state of systems. The key AWS services that support their observability strategy are Amazon CloudWatch, X-Ray, Amazon Managed Grafana, and Amazon Managed Service for Prometheus.

Image Cloud based business tool

This graph was shared by Rich McDonough at the AWS Summit 2022 during his keynote on Full-stack observability and application monitoring with AWS. There, he demonstrates how to implement observability using the above-mentioned AWS services

AWS Automation

From an automation perspective, AWS offers tools that automate the software development lifecycle to drive efficiency, improve quality, and reduce construction and deployment costs. Tools like CodeBuild and CodeDeploy help accelerate Time-to-Market and reduce costly human intervention within software release processes, including complex release rollbacks.

An interesting case of automation using AWS services is the automation of periodic processes using Python scripts from CodeBuild, scheduled using CloudWatch events. Here a tutorial to do this.

Scalability

These technological trends focus on accelerating the pace of product delivery (software release) and enable connectivity from anywhere.  It includes the following trends.

4. Industry Cloud Platforms

PaaS, SaaS, IaaS solutions combined with specific implementations for the organization to respond more quickly and efficiently to the movements of potential disruptors

“Organizations won’t be able to take advantage of using cloud services without a sound cloud strategy”

5. Platform Engineering

Platform Engineering encompasses the creation of an efficient “ecosystem” for development teams that provides them with end-to-end autonomy in the software development lifecycle and enables them to deliver valuable software efficiently and with high frequency. Platform engineering aims to allow developers to focus on creating products instead of having to acquire advanced knowledge in technology and eliminate bottlenecks during the development cycle.

6. Wireless-Value Realization

It refers to a new generation of wireless devices that go beyond providing access to a network. In essence, it is a combination of traditional wireless devices with IoT features. For example, imagine a WiFi device that provides you with information about environmental pollution and indicates the probability of catching a cold if you stay in that place without wearing a mask.

AWS Solutions as a Service

The benefits of AWS as PaaS and IaaS are well known. Services like DynamoDB and Aurora allow an organization to have secure, highly available data that supports any Disaster Recovery strategy. All of this requires very low effort compared to having similar services on-premises.

Additionally, AWS offers third-party solutions for different industries such as healthcare, education, finance, human resources, resource planning, content management, among many others. The AWS Marketplace also provides infrastructure solutions for organizations with specific needs in SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. Some of the verticals for which solutions can be found include Telecommunications, Data, Operating Systems, Networking, and more

Autonomy for software development teams

From our experience of over 15 years in software development, unnecessary manual tasks around the development cycle and operation of technological solutions have negative impacts such as injecting errors, recurring errors, knowledge evaporating, and, in my opinion, the most impactful, multiplying development costs while minimizing return on investment. Autonomy and automation are key factors for productivity that are overshadowed by the issues mentioned before. Additionally, bureaucratic processes in managing technological concerns, such as environment creation, data replication, firewall permissions, VPNs, and others, reduce the productive time of teams and make business areas think and say, “We paid a lot for what we got,” when evaluating the results of technology projects.

It is impossible to talk about efficiency and autonomy in software development without mentioning DevOps. “Because value is created only when our services are running in production, we must ensure that we are not only delivering fast flow, but that our deployments can also be performed without causing chaos and disruptions such as service outages, service impairments, or security or compliance failures.” This quote is from one of my favorite DevOps books that remains relevant despite technological evolution, The DevOps Handbook, published in 2016. It refers to an effective development process in which all efforts are focused on generating value, rather than dealing with tools or technological bureaucracy. In 2012, Gene Kim, co-author of The DevOps Handbook, published his article The Three Ways: The Principles Underpinning DevOps (which was detailed in The DevOps Handbook), proposing a path for organizations to continuously generate value.

Image3 Cloud is a Business Tool

AWS offers a set of services that encourage efficiency in application development and support the following three principles:

IoT Intelligence

As wireless devices evolve to become smarter, AWS has been offering a set of services for IoT that facilitate the following:

  • Scalable and secure communication between devices through IoT Core.
  • Analysis of large volumes of data generated by devices through IoT Analytics.
  • Device management, remote deployment, and firmware updates using IoT Device Management.
  • Automation in managing events emitted from IoT devices through IoT Events.

Pioners

These technological trends drive changes in the business model and promote new ways of engaging with employees and customers. They also facilitate positioning in new digital markets.  Includes:

7. Superapps

Superapps are applications composed of other applications or mini apps that can be installed and removed according to the needs of their end users. Their importance lies in the fact that generations born in the smartphone era demand mobile-first experiences. Their power lies in offering extensible architectures with core functionalities that allow the creation of new mini apps by third parties, thus generating new business opportunities for organizations. Within the category of Superapps, low-code platforms (Low-code application platforms – LCAPs) fit in

8. Adaptative AI

Adaptive AI allows changes in behavioral models based on real-time feedback, continuously retraining the models, and enabling them to learn either at runtime or deployment time, based on new data and adjusted objectives, seeking adaptation to the changing real-world conditions, and introducing resilience into the models.

Gartner expects that by 2026, companies that are adopting engineering practices to build and manage adaptive AI systems will outperform their peers in the speed and time it takes to operationalize artificial intelligence models by at least 25%

9. Metaverse

In very simple terms, the Metaverse refers to those technologies that allow people to replicate and enhance their activities. This can be achieved by either transporting or extending physical activities into the virtual world or by transforming the physical world.

The Metaverse is a field of innovation that combines multiple topics with technological capabilities.

Metaverse: In very simple terms, the Metaverse refers to those technologies that allow people to replicate and enhance their activities. This can be achieved by either transporting or extending physical activities into the virtual world or by transforming the physical world.

Speed in creating web and mobile applications.

AWS Amplify brings together multiple services and tools that facilitate the development of web and mobile applications, with the following key features

Rapid development by simplifying the application development process through a set of pre-built components.

Serverless Backend, which simplifies cloud application management by eliminating server management. Developers can create and run functions and business logic in Lambda functions, while the underlying infrastructure is automatically managed.

Native integration with AWS services that minimizes deployment time and associated costs. Native integrations are available with services such as S3 and DynamoDB for storage, Cognito for user management and authentication, Pinpoint for user messaging, and many more. This allows developers to leverage AWS capabilities without manually configuring each service.

AI Services

On the official AWS website for AI, AWS AI services are grouped according to the intended objective: Computer vision, Data extraction and analysis, Natural language processing, Enhancing user experience, Business metrics, Encoding and DevOps, Industrial AI, and Healthcare.

Metaverse

AWS is constantly evolving its services around the Metaverse to enable developers to build more immersive applications and experiences within it. This involves the combination of technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) to create more realistic and collaborative virtual environments. Amazon Sumerian provides a web-based graphical interface that allows developers to create and publish VR, AR, and MR applications and experiences quickly and easily. The platform includes a wide range of tools and resources, such as 3D object libraries, predefined characters, virtual environments, and scripting capabilities to add interactivity.

10. Sustainable technology

Sustainability invites us to implement mechanisms that maintain a long-lasting balance in environmental, social, and economic aspects. In a sustainable environment, current needs can be met without compromising long-term capabilities. Regarding Sustainable Technology, it refers to technological sustainability beyond the boundaries of information technologies within the organization. Gartner defines Sustainable Technology as a framework of digital solutions that can generate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) outcomes for the company and its clients, in three fronts:

IT Operations

Selecting and working with the appropriate tools, hardware, and vendors to deliver maximum performance using minimal viable resources.

The goals of sustainable IT will include reducing Scope 2 and 3 Greenhouse Gas Emissions: indirect emissions associated with the electricity used by IT and emissions outside the company’s direct control (such as carbon embedded in retired IT). A strong focus on critical issues such as human rights, ethical sourcing, and supply chain transparency is also needed.

Business Operations

Some examples include providing transparency in business and sourcing practices, improving energy and material efficiency, reducing emissions, and promoting fair labor practices.

Client Operations: Sustainable technology also provides a prism through which to offer products and services that enable customers to achieve their own sustainability goals

This requires a deep understanding of customers’ key priorities and a balance of their desires, which may sometimes conflict with each other. For example, customers may want a sustainable product but are not unwilling to compromise on quality or cost. We must make it easy for customers to see how their engagement with our products and services contributes to their sustainability objectives.

These descriptions were taken from the article "Are You Thinking Too Small About Sustainable Technology?"

Efficiency as a Sustainability Factor.

The wide range of services and tools offered by AWS allows organizations to optimize their technological operations, reduce their carbon footprint, and minimize resource consumption. By using these services, companies can leverage the elasticity of the cloud, consuming only the amount of resources needed at any given time, avoiding the waste of underutilized capacity. This results in greater energy efficiency and significant cost reduction.

Services such as Amazon S3 Glacier, which provides long-term data storage with low environmental impact, and Amazon EC2 Spot Instances, which leverage unused capacity for workloads at a significantly lower cost, demonstrate how AWS is committed to offering solutions that promote efficiency and sustainability in the technological realm.

In a world of constant technological evolution, staying up-to-date with the latest trends is essential for the success of any organization. Amazon Web Services (AWS) has become an invaluable ally in this ongoing quest for innovation. With its extensive catalog of services and tools, AWS has proven to be a comprehensive solution for the technological needs of organizations.

From storing and analyzing large volumes of data to implementing artificial intelligence and machine learning, AWS offers a wide range of services that enable organizations to harness emerging trends. The scalability, flexibility, and security provided by AWS have paved the way for organizations to quickly adapt to new technologies and maintain their competitiveness in the market.

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