The Future Belongs to Cloud and Data 2.0

“I am convinced that the hybrid cloud is here to stay with us forever. But, what does forever mean in the IT world? It means 10 to 15 years. The hybrid cloud is really a journey towards the public cloud, which is definitely worth taking” says Jacek Chmiel, Director of Avenga Labs.

 

In 2019, there was a merger between 4 companies, each of them brought a different organizational culture and skillset. Today, Avenga is a global firm, which has a much broader spectrum of activities and services. What are the main benefits of this versatility as an organization?

In the first place, I’d like to mention the competence and skills versatility, but also cultural – we are present in the German, Polish, and UK markets but we are also in the USA and Asia. It is a very important advantage that our technology is global and culture neutral. However, the approach to digital transformation is not, as it depends upon the country and specific organization, different risks have different priorities, and different dialogues are needed to figure out how we can help the client the best we can. For example, there are different sentiments towards blockchain technology in the EU and US, but also privacy is understood differently in the EU, US and Asia where there are different regulations or even a lack of them. 

The strongest suite of Avenga is its ability to support this multicultural dialogue, conversation and discussion in order to build the trust relationships which are key to discovering what the real problems are and how to deal with them together. Let’s add to it a technological prowess and delivery capacity, with over two thousand engineers with enormous skills and experience, which is able to solve virtually any problem that is solvable by modern technology. Our modus operandi is to finish and complete all the activities and projects, always. Execution of quality and efficiency is where we compete with great success.

We often choose the MVP or even POC approach to prove a certain point and idea, or discard it if it is not viable for business. We are always against the so-called perfect failures, which is the beauty of engineering disconnected from the business purpose and value. 

These are the reasons why we maintain and evolve great long-term relationships with our customers who are market leaders. 

 

How does modern IT support and accelerate business growth? We use this expression so often, but what does it look like in reality from your business perspective?

Avenga is uniquely positioned in this dual mode. 

One is a kind-of classical direction related closely to the customer experience, which is crucial for a competitive advantage in many sectors. We’ve got strong competences for any aspect of it, including UX and UI design, plus very effective cloud or on-premise back end systems, which are robust, fast, secure, everything in-house, well integrated and very effective.

The second direction, related to Avenga Labs, is about new technologies, methodologies and trends. We ask the question: what benefits does a new technology or trend bring for particular businesses? Investigating new technologies is fun, however finding the business purpose is much more difficult but even more rewarding for us and our partners. The unique POCs and business applications of new technologies are often created this way. We work closely with IT R&D departments, or innovation departments, to bring even more value.

→ Explore a blockchain-powered solution for COVID-19 test results by Avenga 

 

The hybrid cloud is gaining popularity. Will the hybrid cloud stay with us for a long time?

I am convinced that the hybrid cloud is here to stay with us forever. But what does forever mean in the IT world? It means 10 to 15 years. The hybrid cloud is a journey towards the public cloud which is definitely worth taking. Especially in the sectors which are not regulated as we see less fear and more openness to migrating fully to the public cloud or clouds.

The hybrid cloud is a temporary state which has its disadvantages, such as the need to have sets of skills of a local infrastructure and public cloud, plus the ability to connect efficiently one with the other. This cost and complexity problem can be a motivating factor to move faster towards the public cloud and let go of the local infrastructure faster.

The journey towards the public cloud is worth continuing, despite the long state of the hybrid cloud. The speed of this transition should be aligned with the IT and business contexts of an organization, in order to manage the technological and business risks better.

 

What are the benefits and risks of the hybrid cloud from the perspective of the clients?

What customers want to avoid is the growth of costs, especially employment costs as the salaries continue to rise, but also cloud skills are still not very popular with developers and IT operations. The migration or transformation to the cloud is not an over-the-weekend operation in the majority of cases. 

→ Read more about Cloud lift and shift – to migrate or to transformate?

Hybrid clouds enable organizations to do it in multiple steps, which is slower but safer, while continuing to leverage the existing on-premise infrastructure.

There are still cloud-sceptics who think of the public cloud as a necessary evil, to be used as a last resort when they run off the capacity of the local infrastructure or don’t want to spend IT budget money on hardware anymore.

However,  this kind of attitude is much rarer than it used to be, even two years ago. The skepticism today is more limited to the “imbalance of power” between the local CIO and the giants, such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google.

 

How has the attitude of CIOs and public cloud providers changed? 

It’s getting harder and harder to compete with the cloud at the infrastructure level, as entering the public cloud means that we get many security and regulatory standards from day one, which otherwise would take a significant amount of time and cost when done in local infrastructure. We live in the day when time-to-market is more important than anything else, and the cloud is a great opportunity to shorten this time. This is the number one benefit of a cloud transformation.

→ Have a look at Cloud adoption statistics

The public cloud is still not “liked” by everyone, but the feeling of inevitability is already here, so the process of adoption can be slowed down but it cannot be reversed; the direction is clear for everyone.

We often say “IT is a fashion business” and there’s some amount of truth in it, because the companies look at each other and are becoming convinced of something and tend to follow the lead of others; and this is also true in the cloud transformation efforts. 

What are the most popular cloud strategies?

It might not be the most popular strategy yet, but it is growing fast, as it’s all about using the cloud as a set of ready to use components, or building blocks, from which entire business solutions are built quickly and efficiently.

→ 7-Step Guide to Creating Your Cloud Strategy

This trend comes from the USA, as whenever there’s an openness for functional and technological trend-offs (getting what is needed, not exactly what is wanted), the solutions can be built very quickly. This means working with ready to use digital components from the clouds, which means letting go of vendor lock-in fears, but the reward is time to market which overcompensates for the risks in most cases. 

The best perceived benefits of the cloud are the fact that those solutions are readily available, they are used by others, they work, and they are supported by serious tech companies. The effects of the scale also make them more and more economically viable. 

Another trend is the attempts to create specialized clouds, such as the financial cloud, industry cloud, health cloud, etc. Is it going to be successful? The businesses differ from each other significantly. Will the cloud providers succeed this time? This is the question I am asking myself at the moment.

 

Will Edge Computing replace or augment the public cloud offering?

I think of Edge computing as the natural extension of the public cloud within local environments. This local availability of the computing power is of paramount importance whenever the physical proximity is important, which is also indirectly related to the physical presence of people in stores, entertainment areas, gyms, etc. 

What is the most interesting for Avenga is machine learning on the Edge which means Edge processing nodes, but also the particular devices which are getting more and more capable of running ML models locally. When combined with the powerful capabilities of federated learning and public cloud ML, they will connect to form powerful AI-driven ecosystems. 

→ Explore Trends in edge AI

However, using Edge as a replacement for public clouds may result in much less computational and economical efficiency, because public clouds are more mature, standardized and cost effective. Plus, they may be less resilient due to the limited and less stable connectivity in the scenarios where we need to deliver internet access for the customers. 

With good understanding and a solution architecture in which the right technologies play the right roles at the right time, we expect to create even better solutions than what we can even imagine today. 

 

Avenga is successful and growing dynamically. What are your plans and what areas are going to be the most important to you?

We are still at the beginning of cloud computing’s transformation. Heading in the right direction is going to unleash the full potential of data and devices. We are facing a new generation of technologies and methodologies in the data management and processing space. The new era (let’s call it Data 2.0) is coming fast and new AI techniques will finally bring the expected results – the better outcomes of data projects from the quality, efficiency and ethical perspectives. This is going to be a major breakthrough. Data from one angle is a privacy issue, but from the other it can be perceived as a common good, which is an enabler for the technological and social advancement of entire societies. The vast data sources for any business domain will allow many companies, non-profit organizations and universities, as well as individuals, to deliver solutions for many of the problems we face today for the good of entire nations and social groups. We expect major advancements in computational drug discovery and repurposing, for instance, to accelerate these processes in the pharma sector. But this is just one, no matter how important, example.

The true democratization of data means the true democratization of AI. We may finally free ourselves from the oligopoly of the four-five big tech companies, which are most certainly not our guiding lights in the ethics department. I am a big enthusiast of these trends, as many of us don’t like that the empires were built on our privacy rights and the world seems to be finally awake about this!

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