However, as the UK’s Cloud Industry Forum observed in its report ‘Cloud: The next Generation’ published in November 2018, cloud is not ubiquitous and currently makes up only a relatively modest part of the overall IT estate. Today, it can largely be considered as just another way that we implement IT and manage our infrastructure.
If that is the case, then the cloud has indeed matured and how we should regard it should also change. Many observers now believe that the most compelling aspect of the cloud today is what sits on top of the infrastructure and how businesses are using it to realise the real competitive benefits that cloud offers. And in that respect, there is much more to come.
It’s easy at this point to talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, the Internet of Things (IOT) and machine learning – the ‘sexy’ technology buzzwords that all to a large extent depend upon and are enabled by the cloud. Whilst these technologies are nascent and exist independently of it, the on-demand and scalable nature of cloud infrastructure has made it possible for businesses, regardless of their size, to exploit any application and technology without having to make big upfront capital investments.
It is this scalability, alongside flexibility, that is the killer functionality of the cloud. The ability to add or modify the number of users and access to applications provides simple and speedy solutions for changing business needs.
The era of business software that only runs on-premise is past its peak and is now on the decline but as the Cloud Industry Forum mentions, the cloud currently makes up only a relatively modest, albeit rapidly growing, part of the overall IT estate. There remains a huge proportion of that estate that is still represented by customer premises-based solutions – assets in which equally huge investments have been made and assets that continue to provide working business solutions.
It is here that opportunities exist for business to extend or augment their investment in on premise solutions by integrating new and additional functionality via cloud-based applications and remove the prospect of losing those investments by switching out entirely to the cloud.
This option applies across a wide spectrum. Whether it is working with software run by partners and customers, or with mobile applications and other devices, or with the growing category of business applications that are only available as cloud-based SaaS (software-as-a-service) solutions.
The term hybrid integration describes this new reality and it is a route that can deliver a whole new world of business applications for business.
How can Oak help?
Too often, suppliers confuse buyers with a cocktail of ‘cloud benefits’, many of which are readily available from on premises solutions. Today, most hosted services fail to leverage the power of cloud and are offering no more than another deployment option.
We believe this is about to change with the onset of machine learning, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. Traditional applications are being transformed through integration with powerful new capabilities available within Google and Microsoft frameworks. In the call recording and analytics world, data can be used to provide real insight into business performance. As an example, sentiment analysis can be used to measure the quality of interaction, present a dashboard of customer satisfaction and flag up specific areas of concern for resolution.
In the real world, a hybrid solution may provide a way forward, especially if you are working with a vendor that enables you to leverage your existing investment and access new cloud capabilities.