The key challenge is that each business aspect requires different solution and at times different product or technology. To achieve this, organizations will need to create a ‘Digital Architecture Platform’ encompassing underlying IT applications, which are based on the principles of modularity, configurability, multi-channel support, provisioning and consuming, data processing and analytics, security, scalability and fault tolerance.
The reference diagram below depicts a digital platform architecture for a digital enterprise.
- Infrastructure: It provides secure computing and storage instances on demand.
- Services: This layer supports the implementation of the business application task services. For example, business rule engine. It also, provides a platform for retrieval and analysis of potentially large data sets.
- Composition: This composes the services from the service layer to form higher level business functionality. It can also, aggregate analytic result to provide information insight.
- API Gateways: These provide the API to outside world so that external communication can occur with partners.
- Digital Channels: The platform features help to rapidly develop and deploy for variety of channels – mobile, web, sensors etc.
The digital platform is technical, based on which all the digital initiatives of an enterprise will be built upon. It is important to get this foundation right, otherwise the whole edifice is likely to break down.
Cloud computing has emerged as the key foundation on which the digital architecture platform and transformation as a whole can be implemented.
Microsoft Azure defines “Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and more—over the Internet (“the cloud”). Companies offering these computing services are called cloud providers and typically charge for cloud computing services based on usage, similar to how you’re billed for water or electricity at home.”
The leading cloud platform providers (Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform) are innovating at breakneck speed and providing services across the whole spectrum: compute, networking, storage, IoT, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Analytics, DevOps, Security, identity services, API integration and much more. Simply put, they address the needs of all the roles in IT – operations, application development and infrastructure. The following table shows the subset of services provided by AWS and Azure for each layer of digital platform.
For detailed service catalogues, please refer to:
As per the depiction in the above table, organizations no longer have to cobble together myriad products and technologies for specific business use case. Cloud computing makes it possible for enterprises to avail these on the cloud platform as pay-as-you go model. The cloud platform abstract the services at all layers and making it easier and faster to develop new application or manage infrastructure.
Other benefits of cloud computing are:
- Cloud computing has the potential to totally or partially eliminate the capital expense of maintaining own data centers, buying and maintaining hardware and software.
- Cloud computing increases the speed of application development and time to market as cloud services are available through APIs.
- These services support the fundamental Agile methodology and DevOps for continuous integration and delivery. Thus, ensuring faster software development, more frequent releases and continuous feedback.
Going Cloud-First for Digital Transformation
Gartner predicts that by 2020, 24% of the total addressable IT market will be cloud. Organizations no longer question the benefits of cloud computing. Conversation has changed from “should we do it?” to ‘’How should we do it?”. Organizations from startups to global corporations, government agencies to non-profit are embracing the technology for the benefit that it provides. Cloud computing is in its second decade now.
Cloud-first is the new design strategy for existing and new applications, just like the Internet replaced the client-server and client server replaced the mainframe based applications. Because of end-to-end technology and business benefit provided by cloud computing, it has become the foundation of the digital business initiatives. It has become imperative for the organization to develop a cloud playbook optimized for digital strategy. The cloud computing juggernaut will fuel digital transformation like no other technology has done before.
Head – Digital Business Consulting