Higher value from cloud requires greater skills  

Higher value from cloud requires greater skills  

Generating real enterprise value from the cloud requires managing data, Artificial Intelligence, application integration, security and aligning with business, often putting this beyond the reach of IT and requiring entry of trusted partners. Executives from VAST Data, Liferay, Bespin Global, Mist Juniper Networks respond.    

With continuous innovation and the emergence of new tools, global spending on public cloud services is on a steady rise. Projections for 2024 anticipate end-user spending to reach $679 billion, with expectations to surpass $1 trillion by 2027.

Globally, IT leaders are turning to the cloud for strategic advantages, with 41.4% planning increased investments, 33.4% aiming for legacy-to-cloud migration, and 32.8% seeking to move on-premises workloads, according to the Google Cloud Brand Pulse Survey. The recent Strategy & PwC Middle East report reveals a dynamic landscape, with 85% of companies already on their cloud journey.

“Three key trends reshape the data landscape: exponential data growth, more accessible and specialised use cases, and changing data economics driven by cloud advancements, says Haidar Aziz, Managing Director Middle East, Turkey and Africa, VAST Data.

This scenario, coupled with surging data volumes, requires a re-evaluation of organisational data infrastructure approaches. Challenges like vendor proliferation, technological fragmentation, and rising costs highlight the need for a more agile data architecture.

Designing a new enterprise data architecture involves a federated and distributed approach, new standards, and the ongoing influence of open source and hyperscalers. Enterprises and vendors must prioritise managing overall data ownership costs, investing strategically in service-oriented architectures, and adapting to the evolving data market.

“Enterprises stand to gain significant business benefits from cloud based innovations, including consolidated customer insights, efficiency in customer support, optimised business outcomes with AI,” says Ahmad Saad, Country Manager UAE and Qatar, Liferay.

“While AI cannot exist without the cloud, AI integration into the cloud has further allowed companies to streamline efficient operations, gain unparalleled insights, and innovate at an unprecedented pace. From optimising supply chain management through predictive analytics to revolutionising customer service with AI-powered chatbots, businesses are harnessing AI to automate routine tasks, says Wael Al Aaraj, CTO Bespin Global MEA.

Haidar Aziz, Managing Director Middle East, Turkey and Africa, VAST Data
Haidar Aziz, Managing Director Middle East, Turkey and Africa, VAST Data
Ahmad Saad, Country Manager UAE and Qatar, Liferay
Ahmad Saad, Country Manager UAE and Qatar, Liferay

On-going challenges

The challenges can vary from integration complexity with existing infrastructure, addressing skill gaps for specialised technologies, managing costs and budget constraints, ensuring robust security measures, achieving scalability to meet business growth, overcoming user resistance to change, optimising performance, complying with regulatory requirements to maintaining effective vendor relationships and measuring and demonstrating a clear return on investment.

“These challenges collectively underscore the complicated balance required for successful implementation and realisation of value in the ever-evolving technology landscape,” says Refat AL-Karmi, Senior Consultant, Mist (Juniper Networks) META.

Data plays a pivotal role in enterprises, yet ensuring it steers the organisation in the right direction is a complex task. The challenge involves collecting, aggregating, and making sense of vast and diverse data sources, often scattered across the edge, cloud, and enterprise.

The exponential growth of unstructured data, reaching petabyte scales, also poses a hurdle for businesses aiming to extract meaningful insights from their data.

A successful cloud journey demands a fusion of IT proficiency and business acumen. IT teams need expertise in cloud platforms, data security, and automation, while business leaders require a strategic vision for cloud integration. Collaboration between these two facets is pivotal.

“The VAST Data Platform serves as a bridge, empowering both IT and business users to fully harness their data’s potential, whether in public or private clouds,” says VAST Data’s Aziz.

“Industries like life sciences, media, finance, and transportation grapple with organising massive datasets, and VAST seeks to provide a solution,” continues Aziz.

“Users have to navigate through a multitude of different digital experiences to accomplish tasks, such as purchasing a product, filling out a support ticket, or submitting a warranty claim. This leads to confusion and increased support costs,” says Liferay’s Saad.

Enterprises that jump into cloud migration in general and into adopting the latest technologies without the right technology partner at their side might face numerous challenges including security risks, integration complexities, cost management, skill gaps, and potential performance issues.

“We always advise organisations across industries to consult and rely on a trustworthy MSP to strategically implement these technologies and blend them with their business. To derive returns from this, companies must navigate these hurdles by prioritising with their partners seamless integration strategies, efficient cost management, and ongoing workforce training,” points out Bespin Global’s Al Aaraj.

Wael Al Aaraj, CTO Bespin Global MEA
Wael Al Aaraj, CTO Bespin Global MEA
Refat AL-Karmi, Senior Consultant, Mist Juniper Networks META
Refat AL-Karmi, Senior Consultant, Mist Juniper Networks META

Alternative skills

For robust digital experiences, organisations require a highly skilled team to manage cloud infrastructure and all applications hosted on the cloud. Most organisations will not invest in this expertise in-house.

Liferay’s Digital Experience Platform, DXP SaaS offering is a fit for such organisations to save resources, time, and added investments by managing this infrastructure and Liferay DXP application in the cloud while they focus on their core business. Organisations with an in-house technical team can opt for Liferay’s PaaS service to maintain their DXP, while Liferay handles the hosting and related services.

“Through a combination of graphical content management tools and drag-and-drop low code tools, Liferay allows business users to update content or digitise, automate, and create smarter business processes. This offloads these types of tasks from the IT team so they can focus on bigger initiatives,” indicates Liferay’s Saad.

“Adequate technical resources pose a challenge for most organisations when optimising business processes. Low-code tools come to the rescue in such instances and can enable non-technical users to optimise business processes without needing to rely on IT,” adds Saad.

To craft success stories with cloud applications, a blend of technical and business skills is crucial. Proficiency in cloud platforms, security protocols, and seamless integration skills is vital. Additionally, expertise in data management, analytics, DevOps, and automation streamlines operations, fostering faster and more reliable deployment cycles.

“Understanding business objectives and the ability to communicate technical concepts to non-technical stakeholders are essential. Agility, adaptability, and a continuous learning mindset in the ever-evolving cloud landscape are key for driving innovation and aligning technological initiatives with broader business goals,” says Bespin Global’s Al Aaraj.

On the business front, strategic skills align IT initiatives with the end user’s mission, while cost-benefit analysis can justify investments that drive improved user experience.

“A holistic blend of technical prowess, either in-house or from a trusted third party and strategic acumen is necessary for success and a tangible experience of this was applied at Dartmouth University when it turned to a network powered by Mist AI and automation,” says AL-Karmi.

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