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Navigating today’s hybrid, multi-cloud world

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The question for the majority of businesses today when it comes to cloud, is not ‘if’ but ‘what’, ‘when’, and ‘how’. They need to ensure the digital transformation they are navigating in a hybrid, multi cloud world achieves the business goals. And while most companies are looking at large scale migration and application modernisation, it’s no easy task, with plenty of room for error if not done correctly.

Designing an API architecture forces all of us to think clearly about our business domains, says Sizwe Mabanga, customer engineer at Digicloud Africa, Google's reseller enablement partner for Google Cloud products in Africa.

Speaking during the ITWeb Cloud Webinar Series happening this week, Mabanga said: “We believe that changes in enterprise IT are key to African industries taking their rightful place in the international playing field. I believe that the modern cloud-based application architecture is the culmination of the journey towards security, agility and consumer choice at scale.”

The need for containers

But where to begin? 

“Logical groupings must be created, services decoupled, and each logical grouping exposed as a micro service. Then, while working with micro service architecture, it becomes clear that VMs are too clunky to support it. It takes too long to start up a VM install dependency and get software up and running in that VM, hence the need for containers.”

Containers enable us to shave off anything and everything that the software application doesn't need and quickly deploy it to an orchestration framework, such as Kubernetes, Mabanga explains. 

“Kubernetes in turn helps to orchestrate how those containers run and are configured from a networking perspective, and enables you to increase a particular service's computing capacity by adding more containers when the network load increases for instance, or when the CPU hits a certain amount. It automatically scales the service.”

He adds that Kubernetes orchestration architecture is designed to allow businesses to run their software anywhere in the world with minimal fuss. “We live in a world where public cloud providers are spearheading the drive to better IT solutions. Amazon sits at the top of this empire, and as a result has never had to really think about multi-cloud in any serious way; Microsoft is also successful in this space, and they've been leveraging their existing relationships with companies to shift customers onto Azure. Again, a company not very multi-cloud in its approach.”

Challenging the leaders

However, Mabanga says Google's Cloud Platform has been fighting for market share in a market dominated by Amazon and Microsoft. With this in mind, Google architected itself, which has proved to be a major differentiator and big competitive advantage.

“Google is leading the drive towards a true multi-cloud world. There may be some enterprises that have projects in all three major public clouds, but this does not necessarily mean that they are true multi-cloud at the workload level. And that's where Google Cloud Platform is head-and-shoulders above the rest.”

Everything that Google had to do to ensure that it is truly multi-cloud are also the things that made sure that hybrid architecture and edge architectures work with the platform, he explains.

Revenue acceleration

Speaking about application modernisation and cloud migrations, Louis van Schalkwyk, technical operations, Digicloud Africa, cites a study done by McKinsey,  based on interviews with CIOs and CTOs across 52 large global enterprises. "What they found was that 74% of CIOs said that the existing IT systems actually limit innovation, whereas only 26% of CTOs and CIOs say that there IT environments support innovation.”

He said if we look at the strategic priorities of the CEO specifically, the number one priority for all of them was revenue acceleration, and not containing costs. “The focus is shifting dramatically on innovation and accelerating revenue, rather than just making everything cheaper to run. And legacy systems often inhibit innovation within organisations for a number of reasons, so if we're able to modernise legacy applications, it gives the business a competitive advantage.”

Everyone wants to be in the top right of the ‘Gartner Magic Quadrant’, Van Schalkwyk says. “The top right is seen as the 'Nirvana' of running cloud native applications where you have continuous integration and continuous delivery CI/CD operations. If you're there, you know you're running applications that are portable, scalable, and highly available, and you're only paying for what you use. That's the sweet spot where everyone wants to be.”

Van Schalkwyk says this is typically where Digicloud sees the direction of application modernisation going. And how to get there? Anthos, Google Cloud’s application modernisation platform enables organisations to transform their enterprise applications, offering a consistent platform across all deployments, he concludes.

* Digicloud sponsored a webinar on Building a successful, hybrid, multi-cloud strategy as part of an ITWeb cloud webinar series from 10-12 November 2020.

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