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

 

Three Big Takeaways from 2019’s Virtual Discovery Expo

Top 3 Takeaways from Virtual Discovery Expo

Virtual Discovery Expo, or VDX—a free, online-only tech conference—just wrapped and the community is still abuzz about it. VDX featured more than 25 disruptive vendors, along with breakout sessions, networking opportunities and downloadable takeaway content. We love tech conferences, and so we were excited to deliver this one right to our customers’ desks. Enough exciting content came out of VDX for several articles but we’ve narrowed it down to three big vendor takeaways. Read on to see what attendees are still talking about.

#1 Google’s Cloud Secrets, Revealed

Google became a pioneer in cloud out of pure necessity. A handful of their services have over a billion users. Some are on their way to two billion. This means an unprecedented – and perhaps intimidating – demand for growth. It also means a network unlike any other. With this in mind, Google has developed a cloud development philosophy that allows them to stay agile throughout its rapid expansion. Neil Bunn, manager of customer engineering at Google Cloud Canada, shared that philosophy with us in his keynote address. He broke down the following elements of Google’s approach to maintaining agility:

  • When possible, use open-source solutions to ensure maximum portability.
  • Rely on abstracted infrastructure to avoid hardware procurement limitations.
  • Take a software-defined approach to avoid vendor lock-in.

These principles can make any cloud infrastructure more scalable, says Bunn. Moreover, Google Anthos, a new cloud platform he showcased during the address, provides this kind of agile infrastructure as a managed service.

#2 How the Cloud Can Secure Itself with Microsoft

Security in the age of the cloud is difficult, according to Microsoft’s Jon Wojan. It’s hard to guarantee that mobile devices are secure. Yet more workers are demanding mobile access. Organizations expand their attack surface all the time, but there remains a serious skills shortage in security. As Wojan pointed out, we’ve entered a world wherein security is no longer about stopping breaches – it’s about damage control.

From Wojan’s perspective, the cloud complicates security while also revolutionizing it. For example, inputting records of attack into machine learning systems—pooling data—allows them to learn how malicious actors behave and then stop them on the spot. Cloud systems can also compile and profile typical user behavior and block or grant conditional access for users acting outside the norm.

Implementing these tools requires a shift away from the siloed approach—one firewall and one encryption solution—and towards integrated systems like those offered by major cloud providers like Microsoft.

#3 The Collaborative Future Is Almost Here, Thanks to Jabra

We are living in the age of the collaborative, mobile workplace. More than ever, a new class of employee is contributing to the enterprise: the “remote office professional.” This development is another step toward a more flexible future, where employees have a choice over where and when they do their jobs.

While some are skeptical about this direction, research on the issue yields some hard truths.

  • Open-plan offices—used by 70% of organizations today—are terrible for productivity with 81% of workers complaining that noise and interruptions are their biggest issues in the workplace.
  • Once distracted, it takes the average worker 23 minutes to refocus.
  • Employees in open-plan offices take 61% more sick days.

Until recently, the problem was the technology.

  • Sixty-three per cent of surveyed workers report that technical glitches—which take up a reported 10% of every 45-minute meeting—negatively impact their performance.
  • On average, dealing with such glitches takes up 10% of the duration of a 45-minute meeting.

Enter Jabra, a new generation of audio endpoint devices that provide seamless unified communication with the most advanced noise cancellation capabilities available. Jabra devices are designed to handle remote workers—and those in the office whose jobs don’t allow them to roam.

With these advances, it should come as no surprise that by 2020, 72% of workers will be working remotely.

More to Discover

This is just a sampling of the business concerns VDX vendors addressed. If there was something you missed, worry not! You can still log in and access recorded breakout sessions, keynotes and downloadable content from our 25+ participating vendors. Experience VDX on demand