Multi-cloud deployment: What is it & how can businesses benefit

multi-cloud deployment

This comprehensive guide covers the use of services from multiple cloud vendors, including the benefits businesses gain and the challenges IT teams face when using multi-cloud.

Cloud services from AWS, Microsoft, Google have increased in popularity over the last decade. As a result, organizations are utilizing cloud services from multiple vendors, leading to the aptly-names paradigm of multi-cloud. TechRepublic released a cheat sheet on how to navigate through the multi-cloud era and what it means for your business.

Executive Summary

  • What is multi-cloud? Multi-cloud is the practice of using cloud services from multiple heterogeneous cloud services, as well as specialized platform-as-a-service (PaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), or software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers. Multi-cloud also includes private clouds and hybrid clouds with multiple public cloud components.
  • What advantages do multi-cloud deployments offer? Multi-cloud is about enabling choice – to be able to pick and choose components from multiple vendors – allowing organizations and application developers to use the best fit for their intended purpose.
  • Should my business use a multi-cloud approach? Generally, a multi-cloud deployment will be useful for organizations that have specific needs or dependencies to satisfy.
  • How popular is multi-cloud? This is happening on a case-by-case basis. As organizations outgrow the capabilities of their cloud service providers, services from additional vendors may be needed.
  • How do I build a multi-cloud deployment? A multi-cloud deployment should be carefully planned to avoid interoperability issues. The use of cloud management platforms is recommended.

What is multi-cloud?

Multi-cloud refers to the practice of using services from multiple heterogeneous cloud service providers, including AWS, Google Cloud Platform, or Microsoft Azure, as well as specialized platform-as-a-service (PaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), or software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers. Multi-cloud also comprises the use of private cloud environments and hybrid cloud environments that leverage more than one public cloud platform.

As an architectural choice, multi-cloud can be used for a variety of reasons – the most obvious one is disaster recovery: While cloud vendors offer a variety of options and SLAs for redundancy to guarantee uptime and backups to ensure data integrity, both of these rely on the supposition that the vendor’s entire infrastructure does not fail at once.

While most workloads can be built to be vendor-neutral (this flexibility is a primary benefit of multi-cloud), some workloads may benefit from using specific cloud platforms. Roughly one-third of the IT professionals surveyed in the TechRepublic Premium’s Managing the multi-cloud survey indicated their organization uses a specialized application or solution provider, such as Google Drive, Cloudfare, etc. These are closer to services than they are cloud platforms – while there is feature duplication between these similar companies as with public cloud, these products do not support general compute workloads commonly associated with cloud computing.

What advantages do multi-cloud deployments offer?

Multi-cloud’s main advantage is that organizations and application developers can pick and choose components from multiple vendors and use the best fit for their intended purpose. To draw a comparison, multi-cloud is more á la carte than d’hôte.

For organizations with an outsized dependency on the Windows ecosystem, leveraging some Microsoft Azure services may be beneficial, while the same organization may use Google Cloud for machine learning and analytics and/or Amazon for public-facing web services.

Another benefit of multi-cloud deployments is cost savings. Competitive pricing is a strategy used by multiple vendors to entice customers to migrate from a traditional, on-premises data center to a hybrid or public cloud model. There is an important caveat to this approach: The time required to create integrations between clouds, with cost savings as a primary motivator, can be counterproductive, as developing those integrations can cost more than savings they would produce.

Should my business use a multi-cloud approach?

Generally, a multi-cloud deployment will be useful for organizations that have specific needs or dependencies to satisfy, such as integrations of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, or reliance on Windows software or specific third-party solutions. Multi-cloud offers a great deal of flexibility in how resources are managed, though the difficulty increases roughly exponentially with the number of integrations added. Cloud management platforms can be used to ease the deployment and integration of various cloud services.

Presently, cloud providers are not engaging in vendor lock-in – putting up barriers to interoperability, or hampering migration to a different provider – although customer retention is expected to become an increasing concern as cloud services are commoditized.

According to Carson Sweet, CTO of cloud security firm CloudPassage, “Retention in most of the major providers is achieved by crafting a value proposition that entices users to use more services on a broader scale. The idea now is to get customers to the point of being ‘all-in’ of the customer’s own volition….buyers have largely evolved well beyond getting ‘tricked’ into lock-in.”

How popular is multi-cloud?

Multi-cloud is continuing to gain popularity as competitors to AWS have appeared, and particularly as specialized cloud technology vendors and service vendors have gained traction.

As organizations grow, it may be the case that needs for individual teams or projects are not met by their existing cloud provider, likewise,  for mergers and acquisitions, not all business operations can be easily migrated to the cloud infrastructure of the acquiring company. These are optimal cases for adding a secondary public cloud provider for a multi-cloud deployment.

How do I build a multi-cloud deployment?

Migrating to a multi-cloud deployment is not a decision that should be entered into lightly. While the proliferation of open-source software has greatly decreased issues with vendor lock-in, the potential for interoperability problems to occur still exists. Cloud management platforms can be used to avoid potential issues with common configurations, though some corner cases can hamper successful deployment. Particularly, as vendor-specific APIs are somewhat opaque and not necessarily static, the ability to launch a multi-cloud deployment can be complicated by mutual incompatibilities.

Check out TechRepublic for additional resources on cloud development and how it is changing the industry.

www.allonline365.com

Resource Credit | TechRepublic

Here are some mobile ERP case studies to learn from

mobile erp

As the old saying goes; “for every seller, there’s a buyer”; or in our specific case, an enterprise resources planning platform. More and more people are adopting mobile usage on a daily basis. On average users spend almost five hours per day on mobile devices, the majority of which is spent on mobile apps. Now, let’s consider what and how the technology specifically applies to the ERP segment.

What is a mobile ERP?

First, let’s take a quick refresher on the meaning of what we refer to as today’s mobile ERP. To paraphrase IGI Global, mobile ERP extends traditional ERP tenets and processes by independently collecting and exchanging data via mobile devices and wireless communications mechanisms. Standardized interfaces allow a direct and steady connection to distributed ERP systems, thereby leading to a more flexible and efficient enterprise business processing.

In more simple terms, mobile ERP solutions can be explained as virtual ‘all-the-time-everywhere’ operating platforms that can be leveraged by managers, workers, or customers in real-time. This universal value proposition allows the enterprise to force-multiply any scale of an enterprise; whether its a small ‘Mom and Pop’ shop generating revenues on the order of a million dollars or less, or a multinational industry titan generating billions on an annual basis.

Industry-specific mobile ERP apps

Today’s constellation of mobile apps ranges from the simple to the complex. Nevertheless, all offerings suggest the same business values; enhanced production and the promise of consequently increased revenues. To understand this assertion it is best left to the market itself, so let’s take a look at a couple of mobility-adept industries and their common functions/features applicable to today’s market.

  • Manufacturing – This category ranges from small fabrication operations to large-scale product developers such as auto or equipment brands. Particular functions and features typically involve all record adds/changes.deletes, time/stamp markers, geo-locators, user announcements, and security alarms.
  • Commercial marine operations – this category primarily relates to vessel processes and dock and port facilities. Particular functions and features typically involve all record adds/changes/deletes. time/stamp markers, navigational tracking, communication systems status’, geo-locators, standard/emergency user announcements, and triggered security alarms.
  • Oil and gas development – this category primarily relates to drilling, refining, production and delivery of fossil fuels. Particular functions and features typically involve all record adds/changes/deletes, time/stamp markers, geo-locators, standard/emergency safety announcements, and HAZMAT, and/or triggered security alarms.

As suggested earlier, these mobile ERP features apply to three industrial segments and represent only a small sampling of what mobility means in today’s global industry.

Mobile ERP case studies

Here are some examples to review as you determine how important mobile ERP is to your own business needs. These case samples range from mid to large-scale operations, however, all enterprises were either already involved with a current ERP platform or were applying active mobile capabilities during the various selection/launch/implementation processes.

1.  Transportation supply-chain operator

The company is a leading supply-chain operator in the road construction equipment segment. The company is a mature enterprise, encompassing a 40-year lifespan. Its product line is extensive, primarily supporting global transportation systems developers.

The mobility requirement

The company’s workforce expanded in recent years, requiring a need to streamline its administrative communications capabilities. Its goal was to ensure that all information related to personnel allotments and task assignments were deliverable throughout the company’s business infrastructure, The company also wanted to enhance field staff operations by equipping it with a native mobility capability oriented to enhanced customer support and affiliated reporting.

Baseline scenario

The company’s administrative manager typically assigns sales personnel to individual field sales managers. In turn, these personnel are assigned multiple customers. In the past, at the conclusion of each sales transaction, necessary paper forms were used to gather information, and then execute a manual data entry process using the company’s web portal. As the company grew it began to experience various operational logjams, largely driven by an ever-increasing number of active customers. Subsequently, a related internal investigation found that:

  • Sales personnel spent too much time searching for necessary customer information.
  • Manual data entry processes were redundant and prone to error.
  • Sales status reports experienced delivery lags since legacy processes only allowed for end-of-day batching.
  • New customer record updates were slow and consequently resulted in lost sales.

The company’s solution

The company already had an installed web application system, so after a thorough internal analysis, it proposed an iPad app development for its field staff. The app allowed the company to seamlessly leverage its existing online portal and active data store. Its design allowed for various record options including; customer-lists address books, an ability to register operational events, all the while employing direct geo-location. The design also allowed sales personnel to submit reports in real-time.

Results

After development and implementation were concluded, the company successfully realized all stated goals. Resource Credit: Innomobile

2.  Mid-size retail sales chain

Various metrics relating to today’s retail environment suggest that a minimum of 50% of all retail customers involve themselves with smartphone device use. This non-mobile mid-size retail operator found itself facing increased competition from other mobile-enabled competitors.

The mobility requirement

The company was not mobile-enabled, and consequently was experiencing lost sales opportunities, particularly in the case of targeting young customers. Unfortunately, the company had largely depended on young users to increase brand value by means of word of mouth.

Baseline scenario

The company required a way to enhance its promotion, marketing, and engagement of products to young customers, while at the same time leveraging a seamless resources-based digital infrastructure. The company felt that by tailoring its sales offerings, while enhancing the company’s shopping experience, customers would be more attentive to its product attractions.

The company’s solution

The company engaged a professional mobile developer to ensure that a proper set of operational goals were established. Subsequently, the following solutions were developed and delivered to the company:

  • Mobile shopping cart – this capability allowed users to select and purchase items on-demand.
  • Mobile product search – this capability enabled users to do targeted lookups related to specific items from larger catalog products.
  • Mobile payment – this capability enabled customers to securely pay for purchases.
  • Mobile product ship and track – this capability enabled customers to manage inbound products while allowing the company to maintain active transaction tracking in order to resolve any delivery issues.
  • Wishlist – this capability allowed users to bookmark selected items for future purchase.
  • Store locator – this capability helped customers find the nearest outlet in the event that the customer wanted to leverage the app, but still wanted to do their purchases at one of the company’s brick-and-mortar outlets.
  • Direct support – this capability afforded customers to contact the company’s service center regarding issues or defects, and also afforded the customer 24/7 hotline enhanced with live chat.

Results

Once the company launched its mobile app it reported a significant rise in customer engagement. Customer ease of access led to numerous positive responses from its sales team. Ultimately, customer retention has risen accordingly, in addition to significant increases in new prospect transactions. Resource credit: Innomobile.

3.  Global aviation manufacturer

While the company’s outsourced operations lowered manufacturing costs, it also added complexity and presented a need for rigid controls when managing day-to-day operations. Due to the limitations of a legacy MRP system, and while establishing a newly sophisticated multiple-module ERP platform, much of the company’s work had to be done manually which became increasingly more difficult to manage as the company grew. Consequently, a mobility-adept system was desired as a middle ground.

Baseline scenario

To prevent counterfeit items from entering its supply chain, the company bought a significant number of parts domestically and consigned them to factories in China. The practice required a manual calculation of needed components based on finished assembly usage and inventory levels at the factory. In addition, the company had to calculate the necessary excess to purchase based on historic scrap levels.

If these challenges weren’t difficult enough, communicating with Hong Kong and China operations required them to share and access data around the clock which proved challenging given various time differences.

The solution

The company implemented a multi-module ERP system including; accounting, purchasing, sales orders, and inventory enhanced with mobility.

Once the program was completed the company’s critical data was being shared across functional areas of their business in real-time while maintaining a comprehensive financial status as required. Inventory interfaces with accounting, bill of materials were created that drive demand based on inventory levels across its four factories in China. Additionally, a quality module was included to help the company work through various international compliances, including capabilities such as sub-part traceability and lot coding.

The results

The company’s ROI increased by 50% of sales growth by year four. Resource credit: IQMS

As you can see, industrial mobility and more importantly mobile ERP is becoming a game-changer regardless of the particular business segment. Consequently, it is time to ask yourself, is your enterprise ready to make the jump to mobility lightspeed?

www.allonline365.com 

Resource Credit | ERPFocus

Software as a Service (SaaS): what is it, and why it matters to your retail business

SaaS

Is your business ready for Saas? Chances are, you’re already using it to some degree. From email and online conferencing to office tools, it’s likely that in recent years you’ve shifted to using certain applications that your employees can connect to and use over the internet.

SaaS is a complete software solution hosted in a public cloud, which you purchase on a subscription basis from a technology provider like us.

Microsoft describes SaaS as such: “You rent the use of an app for your organization, and your users connect to it over the internet, usually with a web browser. All of the underlying infrastructure, middleware, app software, and app data are located in the service provider’s data center. The service provider manages the hardware and software, and with the appropriate service agreement, it will ensure the availability and the security of the app and your data as well.”

One of the main benefits of SaaS is that it allows your organization to get up and running quickly with a technology solution, at minimal upfront cost. Let the provider handle all the hardware, middleware, and software maintenance and updates. You simply pay to use the applications you need for your business.

SaaS or on-premises?

Businesses are using SaaS and the cloud, but many are yet to shift their mission-critical workloads away from traditional computing environments. According to consulting firm McKinsey, most (60%) of the businesses surveyed have less than 10% of their workloads on cloud platforms at present. But the tide is turning, and more businesses are starting to get serious about adopting the cloud at scale. Over the next three years, McKinsey reports; 80% of surveyed businesses plan to increase and even double their cloud penetration. 

There are many reasons why:

  • Businesses recognize that SaaS is a great option if you’re looking to eliminate the upfront costs of purchasing and installing a new solution.
  • Since you don’t need to buy or maintain hardware, middleware, or software you can gain access to sophisticated enterprise applications, such as ERP and CRM, in a much more affordable way. It’s a great option for organizations that don’t have the resources to handle complex infrastructure and software themselves.
  • In many instances, SaaS has proven to reduce overall IT total cost of ownership too, removing the burden of maintaining costly infrastructure because you no longer need to manage your own IT in the same way. You only pay for what you use, you get to spread out your costs over time via a subscription license, and customer support and upgrades are all included.

But SaaS isn’t just about saving money.

In an interview with CIO Dive, Michael Warrilow, VP analyst at research firm Gartner, stressed that businesses must look beyond cost alone if they want to unlock the full potential of the cloud. He said that businesses that succeed approach it in terms of what value the cloud can unlock that traditional computing approaches cannot.

SaaS could offer your business unparalleled speed and flexibility, allowing you to connect your organization in real-time, promote true inter-company collaboration and support meaningful analytics. 

it promises to mobilize your workforce by giving users secure access to SaaS apps and data from any computer or mobile device. A service provider like us will ensure the security and integrity of your data, and you won’t need to worry about developing different apps to run on different devices; we handle that too. And because all of your data is stored in the cloud, you won’t lose any important information if an individual’s device fails.

How SaaS can transform your retail business

Retailers which make the transition to SaaS can look forward to transforming every aspect of their organization for the better, from the customer experiences they provide, to how their employees work, to the underlying business processes which support their operations.

Put your customer experience first

Experience matters more than ever in retail, and it’s up to you to offer personal, customized, digital, and social experiences that will capture your customers’ attention and keep them coming back. A SaaS approach can help you rearchitect your systems for unified commerce. It gives you the flexibility and agility to add new functionality as and when you need it and gives you real-time access to operational, financial and customer data across all channels.

Empower your workers to be more productive

SaaS’s innate ‘work anywhere’ characteristics allow you to give your workers greater freedom to work on the go and access the information they need while ensuring a consistent user experience and keeping data secure.

Grow your business with ease

Cloud-based software allows you to grow quickly and efficiently by scaling up or down with your business needs. That’s because you no longer have to own and maintain the additional servers required to support peak loads during sales or product launches, for example.

Expand into new markets

SaaS allows you to unify your business processes across functions and geographies, and rapidly build an overseas presence with minimal upfront investment.

Is SaaS safe and secure?

Short answer: yes. Moving your mission-critical applications to the cloud does not require a security trade-off. In fact, your business stands to gain many benefits from the security built into the cloud. 

Our SaaS solutions take advantage of the Microsoft Azure cloud, one of the safest cloud environments in the world. Together with Microsoft, we are committed to addressing the most rigorous security and privacy demands, and offering the highest levels of trust, transparency and regulatory compliance.

Research by McKinsey on cloud adoption demonstrates that most chief information security officers have moved beyond the question, ‘Is the cloud secure?’ “In many cases, they acknowledge that cloud-service providers’ security resources dwarf their own, and are now asking how they can consume cloud services in a secure way, given that many of their existing security practices and architectures may be less effective in the cloud”, the consulting firm said in the paper, “Making a secure transition to the public cloud”.

Gartner cautions CIOs to not let their concerns about cloud security inhibit their organizational use of cloud services. Public cloud workloads are actually expected to suffer at least 60% fewer security incidents than those in traditional data centers.

“CIOs need to ensure their security teams are not holding back cloud initiatives with unsubstantiated cloud security worries,” Jay Heiser, research vice president at Gartner, said. “Exaggerated fears can result in lost opportunity and inappropriate spending.”

Is SaaS the best option for you?

If you are spending a lot of money maintaining your current software solutions, it might be time to consider a new approach. In a recent blog post, we shared the findings of a study by Stripe, which reported that over two-thirds of businesses are being held back by outdated and custom-built technology systems.

So, if you find yourself in a position where the systems and software you’re running aren’t supported anymore, or your ongoing system maintenance costs are escalating, or you want to roll out new functionality but face months of development and deployment time, know that there are other options available to you, SaaS might be the answer you’re looking for.

LS Central is now available purely in the cloud. To find out more, get in touch with us on  info@allonline365.com or  +27 (21) 205 3650.

www.allonline365.com

Resource Credit | LS Retail

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