What “Digital Transformation” Means Today

Like many IT leaders, you’ve been pursuing digital transformation – perhaps for years.  

 But what does “digital transformation” mean?  

Like many before it, the phrase has taken on the reputation of a buzzword, a popular term that eludes a specific definition As Softchoice VP of Innovation Craig McQueen writes in his recent article “Digital Transformation: Why Now?” (published on CMS Wire and reproduced in part below), the idea of digital transformation isn’t exactly new 

However, two new factors will shape the concept in the 2020s: 

  • The rise of widely available public cloud infrastructure means game-changing technology is no longer exclusive to the big enterprise 
  • Meanwhile, vast improvements in the ease and sophistication of data collection, processing and analysis make once-futuristic concepts like AI and machine learning much easier to achieve. 

How will these developments change the way we think about “digital transformation” in the years to come? We go deeper in the article below:   

[Read more…]

Cloud Success Stories – Part 1

Multicloud has become a popular approach for organizations moving to the cloud.  

Although it isn’t practical in all business casesRightScale finds 84% of companies already run applications in a mix of cloud environments.[1]  

In the last several years, Softchoice has seen many of our customers revisiting their approach to the cloud to gain the distinct advantages of several cloud platforms. At the same time, many are looking to de-risk their cloud strategy by avoiding vendor lock-in 

But today’s measure of success in the cloud isn’t just how an organization gains in efficiency or agility. Instead, it’s how fast the cloud can drive real business transformation.  

Sharing Customer Stories

Many of our customers are turning to one or more clouds to stay true to the goal: Spend more time delivering great products and services than maintaining infrastructure.  

Nonetheless, each organization – and each application – is on a journey of its own. We wanted to share our experience helping 1,400+ organizations transition to the cloud and help others benefit from what they’ve learned.  

This series will explore real-life stories on the journey to the cloud. In this article, we’ll look at three organizations and how they integrated Google Cloud into their cloud strategies to deliver the best possible customer experiences.  

Michael Young, Vice President – Technology Strategy, Birch Hill Equity  

The Challenge: Birch Hill Equity wanted to adopt serverless architecture to the greatest extent possible to focus on delivering analytics products rather than maintaining infrastructure.  

Multicloud certainly ties into our strategy at Birch Hill…Our number one priority is for as much of what we do as possible to be serverless.”  

The Journey 

  • Birch Hill started in the public cloud with AWS, using a PostgreSQL, Databricks and a data warehouse to support its then lightweight data center needs.  
  • The company’s growing portfolio of analytics products required faster and faster response times, prompting the company to adopt Google BigQuery, due to its sub-second response times and lack of infrastructure to maintain.  
  • Google identity and secure access through OAuth met some critical security needs while allowing a small team to run data-intensive analytics workloads.  
  • Today, Google Cloud allows Birch Hill to spin up new analytics offerings fast while AWS supports heavy workloads with Databricks over EC2 clusters along with other infrastructure components.  

“We wanted to focus our time on delivering analytics products, not maintaining our cloud.”   

Next Steps: 

  • Birch Hill still faces challenges in implementing and managing effective security across multiple clouds – a common difficulty for multicloud adopters.  
  • Meanwhile, the company struggles with skills shortages in DevOps, infrastructure and architecture design, preferring to focus on expanding its analyst bench.  

Read the full conversation 

Sergei Leschinsky, Senior Director – Information Services, Polar Inc.  

The Challenge:  Polar needed to minimize delays and embrace a distributed network to support exponential growth and global expansion for its real-time bidding product for digital advertising.  

Distributed geographies became an essential part of the Polar Platform, which is a distinct advantage of public cloud. 

The Journey: 

  • Polar started its cloud journey as an early adopter, extending some of its production workloads to the public cloud – however, the project was unsuccessful.  
  • Overcoming an early false start, the company began a second migration with AWS, favoring its industry-leading versatility of services and solutions.  
  • As its product entered a period of rapid growth, Polar consolidated CDN providers and started bringing its heaviest-traffic workloads to Google Cloud. The result was a 50% savings in egress traffic.   
  • This allowed them to take advantage of geo-locations to support expansion in Europe and Australia. 
  • Today, Polar is using Google Cloud to support compute, load balancing and MySQL while AWS supports its data storage needs.  

Next Steps: 

  • Polar’s next steps in the cloud are to migrate its remaining high-traffic workloads to its Google Cloud environment.  
  • However, the company finds getting the attention of cloud providers to escalate and resolve issues is sometimes an uphill battle as a customer with a smaller footprint.  
  • They also see some difficulty in navigating the changes in billing structures and program changes across several large, complex and innovative service providers.  

“Our approach and need for public cloud today are very different than what we were trying to use it for in the past.”  

Read the full conversation.  

Norman Shi, Chief Technology Officer, Gradient.io  

The Challenge: As a startup, Gradient needed to process massive amounts of data in very short periods to support its SaaS tool ranking brand performance on Amazon’s retail platform.  

“Eventually, your application requirements will get to a stage where you require a higher level of infrastructure that offers greater scale, elasticity and processing speed.” 

The Journey: 

  • As a cloud-native company, Gradient started its journey without legacy infrastructure, allowing it to select the cloud provider or providers best able to meet their needs.   
  • Although Gradient recognized the strengths of AWS, potential data hosting conflicts with its retailer customers rendered it impractical for their needs.    
  • The company built its technology stack on Google Cloud to take advantage of its exceptional data collection and processing capabilities.  
  • Gradient also wanted to benefit from Google Cloud’s user-friendly interface and open source services like Kubernetes.  
  • Today, Gradient uses Google Cloud to power and optimize its SaaS dashboard for a fast-growing customer base.  

Next Steps:  

  • As a small but growing company in the cloud, Gradient still struggles with resource constraints and the challenges in accessing Google Cloud-specialized skills 
  • They also have some trouble tracking, managing and optimizing their cloud spend as their offering goes through a period of rapid growth.  

“These services are game-changers for any organizations who want to process terabytes and petabytes of data. 

Read the full conversation 

What’s Next for You Cloud Journey? 

The cloud journey is not always a pleasant or a complete success at first.”  

We’ve covered three real-life journeys that led to successful cloud transitions. However, no cloud transition is ever fully complete. Working with a strategic managed services partner like Softchoice will help you:  

  • Achieve the right mix of cloud services to meet your business needs 
  • Take the risk out of cloud adoption and migration 
  • Optimize your cloud spending across multiple providers 
  • Balance product and service innovation with proper cloud governance  
  • Upskill your team on every aspect of the cloud 

Learn more about how we can help by exploring Softchoice Cloud Services. 

Planning to migrate one or more workloads to the public cloud? First, check out this Forrester report, 10 Facts Tech Leaders Should Know About Cloud Migration. 

 [1] RightScale 2019 State of the Cloud Report from Flexera


How Deep Security Supports Better DevOps Processes 100%

IT organizations have seen too much of their time consumed by non-strategic tasks. This comes at great cost to their bottom lines and cloud transition strategies. 

In fact, a 2018 Stripe survey found that between dealing with bad code, technical debt and various refactors or modifications, most of the typical developer workweek was wasted.  

That leaves organizations with fewer resources for pushing their operations and businesses forward – for example, by securing the transition of their workloads into the cloud. 

Enter DevOps, exit IT bottlenecks

This is why many organizations have adopted DevOps as a methodology that reimagines the connections between different teams and the technologies they use. 

Implemented right, DevOps supports better collaboration and productivity. Meanwhile, its rapid iterative approach is a perfect fit for continuous delivery paradigms, wherein developers build around microservices and containers, supported by public clouds like AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.

Thanks to the agility enabled by the combo of DevOps, microservice architectures and containerization, developers can release and update software at a cadence that benefits both the company and its customers. High-performing DevOps organizations outdo their competitors on multiple fronts:    

  • They deploy to-market faster.
  • Their change failure rates and time to recovery are much lower.
  • Revenue and profit growth are also higher at DevOps organizations.

To realize its full value, though, DevOps-driven development in the public cloud must incorporate security at every step. In fact, Amazon Web Services (AWS) now refers to that security as “job zero.” It takes priority over everything else.

Security has been a core concern around cloud computing since day one. It’s also caused some worry around containers since their rise to prominence in the early 2010s. Fortunately, solutions like Trend Micro Deep Security for Containers make it easier to secure containerized workloads in cloud-like AWS. IT organizations no longer need to choose between moving fast and staying secure.

Using Trend Micro Deep Security in a shared security model

Let’s look at interactions between AWS and Trend Micro Deep Security, in particular, to see they balance security with the fresh agility possible through DevOps. 

Customers putting workloads into AWS follow a shared security model. Under this setup, AWS itself takes care of the fundamental security of the underlying hardware and software. This includes everything from availability zones and edge locations to storage and networking. Meanwhile, the customer takes care of tasks such as identity and access management, client/server-side encryption and securing data.

It’s the latter set of responsibilities that have posed the greatest management challenge. Common problems include lack of visibility into what’s happening across environments, low automation and general difficulty in keeping up with the overall speed of DevOps.

The Deep Security advantage

This is where Trend Micro Deep Security can provide a pivotal advantage:

  • It delivers a comprehensive set of security controls, including log inspection and anti-malware, for AWS EC2 instances and containers.
  • For EC2 instances, it integrates with AWS Security Hub, GuardDuty, Lambda and other native security services.
  • It handles orchestration and automation through Puppet, Chef and Ansible.
  • Containerized workloads get full-stack protection, e.g. at the host OS, Kubernetes, Docker and container levels.
  • Intuitive features such as Deep Security Smart Check make it easy to identify and address vulnerabilities.

As a whole, Deep Security helps protect cloud instances and containers. This, in turn, simplifies compliance with applicable regulations as well as incident responses. IT organizations can capitalize on the promise of DevOps by moving beyond manual tasks and related complications.

Trend Micro itself is part of the AWS Partner Network, a partner of choice for AWS Managed Services, and a top security provider for many AWS customers.

Learn more Deep Security 

Softchoice and Trend Micro teamed up to deliver a recent webinar exploring container security using Deep Security in AWS. View the full session.