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HOW THE CLOUD AND NEXT GENERATION OF APPS IS CHANGING RETAIL FOREVER

05/31/2016 1 Comment

HOW THE CLOUD AND NEXT GENERATION OF APPS IS CHANGING RETAIL FOREVER
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Conclusion/Summary

Cloud computing has become a norm. Every day, millions of people are using cloud‐based applications (think Google Docs, SoundCloud, DropBox, etc). Enterprises began to realize the importance of cloud computing as soon as the smart devices (phones, tablets, etc) hit the market. So far they had made their effort to utilize this technology to minimize their costs and increase their bottom line by increasing employee mobility. Now, the cloud has matured into a full‐blown market
reality, and it’s calling its own shots.

Enterprises would be wise to set their CIOs to develop enterprise strategies with cloud in mind. Having a well‐defined strategy employing cloud based applications as a cornerstone for future endeavors is the only way enterprises can hope to survive the market in the near future.

Introduction

Cloud computing has evolved into a full‐fledged solution capable of emancipating enterprises from the demands of market, competition, and agile marketing. Enterprise, now more than ever, require high level of interactivity with their employees, clients, and partners via applications that remove constraints of sophisticated infrastructure i.e. technology, analytics, software, computing power, etc. at the user’s‐end.

Enterprises find solace in the next‐generation of cloud computing native apps capable of leveraging
social opportunities and allowing seamless access to web‐based, custom data apps, and backend
systems without the need for high‐end machine/devices/software at every node of interaction.
This change has come due to the way cloud as a whole has evolved and consequent paradigm shift in
how application development is deployed — a shift from server‐focused development and clien focused development to cloud based services.

This shift towards Cloud‐based development systems is reducing costs and development time,
boosting development efforts, and allowing development of applications that will remain compatible
with future apps employed by the enterprise.

Cloud Computing In Brief

Cloud computing is a type of advanced networked computing that allows computer resources to be
shared without requiring dedicated local servers/devices for processing. In simpler words, the
technology allows organizations to “free” their data and allow frequent storage and use of data on
multiple servers through the internet.

This is made possible by using a network of remotely controlled servers that allow the company to
store, process, and manage data as well as use programs through a web‐based interface. Any and all
data and programs that are either stored or running on the cloud can be from anywhere through any
smart devices with high speed/bandwidth internet connectivity.

Benefits of Cloud Computing

  1. Faster Time to Market — Cloud computing allows enterprises and end‐users immediate access to all storage and computing resources. It also allows fast provisioning of virtual servers to meet the demands of changing workload
  2. Business Innovation — Cloud computing lowers a business’s IT barriers to innovation by delivering flexible IT infrastructure that can easily be re‐aligned with changing business needs.
  3. Reduces Capital Costs — Cloud computing relies on pooling resources for optimizing costs. As a result, it allows end‐users a pay‐per‐use model scalable on demand cycles
  4. Responsive Demand Scaling — Cloud services allow extraordinary flexibility in the way services can be scaled up or down in accordance with client demands. It also allows businesses the ability to automatically scale their services driven predefined SLAs.

Cloud’s Architecture

Cloud as a service has evolved into a robust ecosystem comprising of multiple layers of interacting
modules and sub‐ecosystems. The whole cloud network and all next generation apps on cloud are
reliant on this ecosystem, which can be categorized as:

  • Cloud’s computing services — These primarily include Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
  • Cloud’s Computing deployment models — These include Public, Private, and Hybrid cloud models

The interaction of these services and models has brought about the creation of the next generation
of cloud applications that aim to use the cloud eco‐system at its maximum potential.

The constant evolution of computing has helped businesses to automate and innovate providing
them a competitive advantage in the global marketplace. A study of business history would reveal
that the rapid rise of US‐based organizations was due to their ability to quickly leverage IT for their
business needs. On the other hand, organizations from other parts of the world were relatively slow
in leveraging IT. However, over time IT has become a hygiene factor and large scale adoption has led
to leveling of the playing field.

Nevertheless, with the coming of the Cloud, organizations are once again at the crossroad of
technology. Early adoption of the Cloud can provide organizations with an opportunity to transform
their business models and gain a competitive edge. While cost reduction is one of the benefits,
several other benefits accrue to organizations. Organizations would be able to concentrate on their
core competencies while leaving the task of running IT infrastructure to the Cloud service providers.
Further, through the adoption of the Cloud, organizations are expected to become more nimble. The
Cloud would help them quickly provision resources for business opportunities, which could
otherwise be lost.

The Cloud also enables organizations to build virtual and "open" business processes, enabling its
various stakeholders including customers, business partners, suppliers, etc. to connect and do
business more seamlessly.

Understanding Next Generation of Cloud

The Confines of Traditional Cloud Models

Typically organizations must choose between a pure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or statically
configured PaaS environment for their cloud development and deployment needs. While both
models provide benefits, they also have drawbacks.

Traditional IaaS providers only handle the physical aspects of data center infrastructure, causing developers and IT staff to spend time acquiring, integrating, and testing software components and tackle application support problems on their own. In contrast, most PaaS environments provide access to black‐box infrastructure resources and preselected language and platform component stacks with limited or no control, forcing developers and administrators to ensure applications conform on their own.

Next Generation of Cloud Computing

  1. The next generation of cloud computing is defined by the needs of the businesses and enterprises, the biggest of which is to deliver value faster by automating everything from request to deployment and configuration. These requirements can be categorized as five platform requirements:
  2. A management platform with high degree of service flexibility
  3. A platform that supports multiple constituencies
  4. Platform that is not tied to a single infrastructure
  5. An intelligent platform
  6. A platform that is highly integrated into existing enterprise management technology and
  7. processes

The next generation of cloud services will greatly increase the accountability of the developers by
reducing the cost and burden of infrastructure form the enterprises.

​Cloud Apps — Cloud as a Service

Cloud Apps — Cloud as a Service

To understand what the next generation of cloud apps will bring, it is essential that we map where
cloud computing is heading itself. The current development trends indicate the development of the
following cloud transformation:

Inter‐Cloud, or Cloud of Clouds

This is a new model of cloud computing. It envisions a combination of various individual clouds into
one seamless mass in terms of its ability to offer on‐demand operations. This would allow individual
cloud to use/rely‐on resources available beyond its reach i.e. by using pre‐existing contracts with
other cloud providers.

Extended OpenStack

Currently OpenStack software allows developers to deliver massively scalable cloud operating
systems. It is an open source IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) initiative allowing creation and
management of large groups of virtual private servers in a cloud‐computing environment. With its
goal of supporting interoperability between cloud services, OpenStack brings incredible versatility
and flexibility to the cloud‐computing world. With OpenStack, businesses can build cloud services in
their own data centers.

Big Data as a Service (BDaaS)
A cloud computing service allowing analysis of voluminous and complex data sets through cloudhosted services. An example in consideration is IBM’s recent Watson Discovery Advisor, a BDaaS
cognitive computing project allowing researchers from different fields develop research ideas.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

These lower IT costs while speeding application development through more robust and efficient
testing and deployment techniques. Many companies are looking forward to adopting PasS as the
way forward.

Graphics as a Service (GaaS)

Normally, high‐end graphics applications require massive hardware infrastructure to be present on
every machine hoping to use it. Emerging cloud‐based graphic technologies allow end users to run
various graphically intense applications using nothing more than a web browser.

Hybrid Cloud Platforms
More and more mergers or partnerships between private and public cloud platforms are enabling IT
to use on both premises and cloud‐based infrastructure seamlessly. This has allowed them to reduce
costs, bursts, and in various dynamic cases including disaster recovery and others.

Using Cloud as a Social App Development Platform

Socialization of cloud computing technology allows developers a common platform for developing
apps for mobile, as well as social and big data applications. Using cloud as an innovation platform
offers diverse opportunities for cross‐pollinating with various application platforms. This allows
businesses greater ability to respond quickly to new innovations e.g. gesture and speech
interactivity, wearable technology and more.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

With various big data analytics, intelligent machine algorithms, and wireless connectivity
infrastructure already robustly in place, it is a matter of time before IoT transforms operations by
combining intelligent machines with analytics and end user applications across a wide spectrum of
industrial uses. Cloud computing platforms take a central role in creating these next generation of
software‐defined, intelligent machines that can be operated and controlled from remote, yet
centralized locations.

Current Engagements — BOYD, CYOD, and COPE

With the rise of smartphones, mobility became a thing to contend with. Hence, Bring Your Own
Devices (BYOD) and Choose Your Own Devices (CYOD) policies that allowed employees to use their
smart devices to perform their work and interact with company’s data. These policies offered great
flexibility to employees as well as increased their productivity while reduced the corporation’s cost
of upgrading and maintaining its end‐user technology base.

Cloud computing and services, and application development are central to the working of these policies. Hence, with their implementation came security threats and issues. These instances led to the evolution of BYOD/CYOD into Corporate Owned Personally Enabled (COPE) policies.


Trends — Impact of Cloud Computing and Services on the Industry


Cloud computing and the rise of next generation of cloud based applications have changed the way
businesses and enterprises are engaging in the market — and trying to remain market competitive.
Though all sectors will benefit from these services, the impact will be fairly emphatic in certain sectors.

Sectors such as Education, Healthcare, SMEs, and Government play an integral role in market economy and cloud based applications are likely to affect the greatest.

This section highlights the primary impact these applications will have on these sectors:
Government

Governments can leverage the Cloud to bridge the communication divide, especially with those
citizens that reside in remote parts of the country. Given that deployment of infrastructure becomes
a costly endeavor, cloud based applications can be used to increase interoperability between various
remote government agencies, while reducing redundancy, as well as tracking and monitoring the
effectiveness of various government schemes. Furthermore, cloud computing can increase the rate
at which transparency in Government can be achieved.

A cloud ecosystem for this purpose will allow sharing of computing resource between the State and
Central governments and drastically reduce costs by leveraging existing infrastructure. The Cloud has
the potential of transforming this sector, to benefit not only the Government itself, but also millions
of people.

Examples of Cloud Deployment —The General Services Administration (GSA), for instance, recently
selected Gmail for its 15,000 employees in a bid to trim 50% of its annual e‐mail costs over the next
five years. Similarly, the Department of Agriculture opted to use Microsoft’s Business Productivity
Online Suite (BPOS) Federal cloud suite for its 120,000 users.

Healthcare

For healthcare industry, the Cloud (aka hCloud) is a paradigm shift. It allows healthcare stakeholders
and professionals to use Healthcare Information Technology (HIT) while focusing solely on their
competencies. The biggest advantage of cloud’s ability to pool resources and data is that it can
provide for the seamless management and access to the Electronic Health Records (EHRs) of
patients.

The biggest advantage of this is that it can facilitate provisioning of healthcare services and products
to patients in remote areas. The use of the cloud based applications is changing healthcare business
models, streamlining workflows, automating processes, and consolidating IT assets for Healthcare
service providers. With cloud and cloud based application development, it is possible that an
integrated healthcare ecosystem is established — one that would allow healthcare providers to
make the best of their service to remotely located patients with limited access to quality health
services.

Example of Deployment — many pharmacology vendors including Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, and
Pfizer are starting to tap the cloud to improve research and drug development (i.e., “scalable” and
“affordable”)

Education

The challenges of high costs and limited reach, flexibility and quality are of grave concern in eh
educational sector. Cloud based applications are acting as the catalyst enabling the sector to
overcome these barriers.

The good news is that this sector has been using on cloud and near‐cloud based applications such as
emails, while various Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Virtual Learning Environment (VLE),
and Student Information System (SIS) that are currently employed can easily be worked upon and
hence accessible through the cloud. With these cloud‐based applications, unique resources can be
made readily available to students — making the education system become more collaborative and
innovative. The extensive implementation of cloud‐based applications could change the way in
which education is financed and delivered.

Examples of Deployment — Practical scenarios for “Education 2.0”, Virtual lecture theatres, Labs in
the cloud, intelligent classroom, personalized supervision, Virtualization of desktops.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

Until the advent of cloud service SMEs had been largely unable to take advantage of powerful IT
systems and/or solutions due to the high up‐front costs. Consequently, they faced issues in the
management of their supply chains, human resources, customer relationships, financials,
inventories, among other business critical aspects.

Cloud based applications reduces the cost burden of using IT for SMEs, primarily because the price
system relies on the “pay‐per‐usage” model. With cloud services, SMEs can enjoy benefits of
scalability, flexibility, and on‐demand service.

Examples of Deployment — SMEs readily employ cloud based hosting, data storage, project and
employee management, collaborating apps, among other services.

Next Generation Apps — Future Trends in Cloud Computing

Currently industry trends in the use of cloud computing and using cloud computing services can be
categorized into 5 primary trends:

Increased Availability of Cloud Based Applications

According to the “Global Technology Outlook — Cloud 2014: A More Disruptive Phase”, most of the
new applications are being planned and developed for the cloud. The report predicts that by 2016
around 48 million applications (over a quarter) will be available on cloud alone.

Given that 58% of the enterprises are allotting more than 10 % of their annual budge on cloud
services primarily because 56% consider cloud as their strategic differentiator amongst
competitions, and as The Everest Group’s “Adoption Survey” argues: the prediction makes sense
because cloud adoption is enabling these enterprises achieve higher operational excellence and
accelerated innovation.

Continuous and Unprecedented Growth in the Market for Cloud

According to Gartner’s forecast of IT: “the cloud is here, and it is accelerating globally”. The forecast
The forecast for 2011‐2017 expects the adoption of cloud to hit $250 billion within 2 years (by 2017).
This prediction was already supported as early as 2013 (Qtr 4) where it was observed that globally,
enterprises were increasingly relying on cloud services for developing, marketing, and selling their
products, managing their complete supply chains, and more.

The forecast by Gartner also suggests that worldwide Software as a Service (SaaS) market would
show an astounding growth rate of 20.2 percent between 2012 and 2017. This means a growth from
$18.2 billion to $45.6 billion by the end of 2017. The impact of this forecast is evident from the fact
that many companies are rebranding their existing service base “as a service” to gain an early share
of the pie.

Accelerated Partnerships between Private and Public Cloud Service

Even when we see CIOs crafting ewer strategies centered on cloud to meet the rising demand for
cloud, pure cloud implementations will remain an exception and not the rule. This is because
practically it would be very difficult, if at all possible, for enterprises to shift everything wholesale to
the cloud. Their existing infrastructure poses a significant barrier to this massive shift in priorities.
The solution is the hybrid cloud—a mix of on‐premises and off‐premises cloud networks. By allowing
organizations to enjoy the performance of using on‐premises solutions and the convenience of
management from cloud business model.

Hybrid cloud adoption is on the rise, a fact supported by Gartner’s prediction that that about 50
percent of enterprises will be employing hybrid cloud networks by as early as 2017.

An Evolutionary Boost In Cloud Technology

According to the study by Evans Data Corporation, currently more than 18 million software
developers are developing applications worldwide but less than 25 percent are committed to
application development for the cloud.

This is because of a fundamental concern of enterprises: risk aversion.

Enterprises realize the crucial place for a robust cloud platform for their market competitiveness, but
unless a robust infrastructure and sound risk management do not back the cloud as a service model,
investment becomes a great risk. Hence, the cloud technology as a whole is going through a phase of
rapid evolution.

At this point, IDC (concurring with Gartner’s report on the growth of cloud) predicted that that 20
percent of all application revenue in 2014 will be generated by SaaS alone. Reports by IDC further
claimed that an increased involvement of third‐party, enterprise, and commercial and enterprise
contributors and developers to cloud by 2017. We can expect that as cloud continues to be adopted,
more developers will develop for the cloud and hence its application ecosystems, marketplaces, and
application programming interface (API) exchanges.

Conclusion

Cloud computing has become a norm. Every day, millions of people are using cloud‐based
applications (think Google Docs, SoundCloud, DropBox, etc). Enterprises began to realize the
importance of cloud computing as soon as the smart devices (phones, tablets, etc) hit the market. So
far they had made their effort to utilize this technology to minimize their costs and increase their
bottom line by increasing employee mobility. Now, the cloud has matured into a full‐blown market
reality, and it’s calling its own shots.

Enterprises would be wise to set their CIOs to develop enterprise strategies with cloud in mind.
Having a well‐defined strategy employing cloud based applications as a cornerstone for future
endeavors is the only way enterprises can hope to survive the market in the near future.

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