Digital transformation for enterprise is no longer just a “hot topic”, it has become a necessity to succeed. Organisations that want to seize growth opportunities, fight off competitive pressure, and meet the changing expectations of customers and employees know the old ways of doing things are becoming obsolete. They need digital technology on their side – and they need it fast.
A recent survey of IT leaders revealed that 93% of organisations are planning or currently engaged in a digital transformation programme. Leading enterprises are using digital technology to rethink and automate operational processes, uncover new business insights, and find innovative ways to deliver customer value.
CIOs are in the eye of this transformation storm. With many enterprises spending up to 85% of their IT budget just to keep the lights on, their businesses are suffering as a result. The CIO must drive corporate strategy forward, with a dual focus on continuous improvement to increase operational efficiency and rapid innovation aligned with shifting business priorities. Without forgetting, those lights still need to stay on.
No Cloud, No Transformation
Without cloud computing, in all its many forms, all the discussion around digital transformation in the modern enterprise could be just that: discussion. The cloud enables organisations to turn that speculation into action more easily, offering the speed and scale they need to rapidly meet new business needs and customer demands.
Crafting a cloud strategy is the first step in any successful digital transformation, and many CIOs are already getting to grips with a range of solutions including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Microservices and containerisation to help support their journey. But some are missing out on the benefits of the most significant piece of the cloud puzzle: Platform as a Service (PaaS).
PaaS enables you to get the most out of your cloud platform, empowering you to reduce the cost of change, cut development time, improve security and ultimately, accelerate your digital transformation.
We’ve supported a lot of digital transformations over the years, with clients from Heathrow to Confused.com, and we’ve seen time and again that taking a PaaS-first approach is the best way to enable and accelerate transformation.
Four big reasons to choose PaaS
Reduce the cost of change
Complex, monolithic architectures hold organisations back from innovating at speed – and sometimes from innovating at all. Containerisation has been useful in changing this narrative, and container orchestration tools like Kubernetes certainly have their place in breaking down the monoliths. But when you want true IT agility, PaaS can be an invaluable – and very cost-effective – tool.
Alongside the OpEx cost model common to all public cloud services, PaaS can reduce the cost of change in many ways. For example, automated scaling removes infrastructure constraints, secure and scalable APIs connect disparate services, and an integrated development/test and Continuous Integration/ Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) platform makes deployment much simpler. PaaS is also an ideal approach for incremental migration strategies such as the strangler pattern, enabling you to migrate legacy codebases to a more flexible, service-orientated architecture.
Save development time
With no more time spent on provisioning, configuring and managing infrastructure, your development teams can stay focused on delivering applications. Providers like Microsoft offer many tools to help developers get more done in less time. And pre-coded software components – from directory services such as ETL (extract, transform & load) frameworks and customisable data transformation pipelines like mapping data flows – mean there’s less engineering to do in the first place.
For example, one organisation we worked with had spent six months trying to develop a new API using traditional methods, with their resources taken up creating custom code. Because PaaS requires less coding, your teams are free to focus on delivery and deployment. So by bringing together a combination of existing Microsoft Azure PaaS components and services and a small amount of new code, we were able to re-engineer the entire solution in just six weeks.
Strengthen information security
With PaaS, there’s no need to keep on top of patching to ensure your solutions remain secure. Security patching is taken care of by the provider, so the platform is always up to date. Leading PaaS platforms also include built-in security, from encryption and identity and access management, to backup and failover. Getting all of these security elements right would be incredibly complex for in-house development teams; slowing the pace of development and deployment.
Providers also offer best practices and blueprints (Microsoft’s Cloud Adoption Framework is a good example) that can help internal teams mitigate security risks before, during and after adoption. And when you add to that the multiple layers of security PaaS providers use in the infrastructure that powers your platform, including increased ease of granular permissions in your environments, a PaaS approach can offer extremely strong protection for data and services.
Access to tangible innovation
Working with reusable components on a proven platform allows you to create innovative solutions in a fraction of the time – accelerating your digital transformation initiatives.
And without the cost and complexity of buying and managing all the infrastructure, software licenses, development tools, and everything else you’d need to build the platform in-house, you can focus your teams’ energy and talent on delivering better outcomes for your business.
PaaS providers like Microsoft are continually adding new innovative services to their platforms, such as cognitive services, Microsoft’s suite of democratised AI tools that allow developers to add features such as emotion and sentiment detection, vision and speech recognition, and language understanding to their applications with zero expertise in machine learning. This means you can integrate the latest innovations quickly and easily into your solutions, providing a powerful competitive advantage and giving you new ways to ensure your digital transformation quickly adds the business value you need.
Want to identify where PaaS will bring the most value to your business? Download the CIO's Guide to PaaS, now.