Highly regulated industries such as health care or financial services have tended to operate in hybrid environments, leveraging public cloud for some processes while others remain in an on-premises data center. Industry clouds, however, allow an organization to migrate all layers of a technology stack to the cloud with significant benefits:
- Enhances strategic competitiveness across the value chain
- Provides immediate access to computing power to scale virtual infrastructure
- Increases development speed and time to value
- Improves cybersecurity through a more resilient IT architecture
Industry cloud solutions pair cloud capabilities with industry-specific solutions. For example, health care requires a frictionless patient experience but also high levels of data security and protection. Industry cloud solutions are built with an understanding of the regulatory environment, data security needs and technology hurdles presented by individual industries. Utility companies can use automated forecasting to manage energy sustainably across grids. Retailers can combine sophisticated customer data to optimize inventory management. Airlines trying to improve loyalty solutions, parts tracking, maintenance and crew management can find an integrated solution in an industry-specific cloud.
Industry clouds avoid the need for excessive customization and can then deliver value rapidly. But not all industry clouds are the same: it’s still important to identify the key needs of an individual enterprise to verify that the cloud capabilities match those needs. In some cases, the adoption of multiple industry clouds will be the best solution.
Setting an industry cloud strategy
To navigate this complex environment, it’s vital to develop a well-defined strategy. If the strategy is narrowly focused on IT cost optimization rather than the potential business value, significant opportunities will be lost. An external system integrator can help a business maximize the return on industry cloud projects by aligning the desired outcome with the appropriate industry cloud solution.
Sometimes organizations will choose to operate on multiple cloud platforms for different functions and applications. This avoids vendor lock-in, increases agility and facilitates the selection of the best platform for individual needs. But strong integration is essential to confirm that workloads can easily migrate from one to another. An industry cloud strategy needs to combine deep knowledge of sector with a comprehensive understanding of cloud architectures to inform platform choice and design.
Cloud strategy implementation
Once strategy has been defined, coordinated execution needs to be planned. Moving all a company’s functions and workflows into an industry cloud is more complex than just “lift and shift”: a new operating model will be needed. Leaders need support in prioritizing which capabilities to move first while confirming that the business continues to operate within the legacy environment while this is in play. The challenge is in combining requirements and integrating processes in a multi- or omni-cloud environment. A cloud-ready operating model needs to be implemented and a cloud-literate workforce trained and developed. These changes take time to implement and experience to get right.