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Expert view: How to choose the right cloud solution for a business

By Julius Cheptiony | Aug 28th 2017 | 3 min read
By Julius Cheptiony | August 28th 2017

NAIROBI, KENYA: Today, corporate leaders must confront their company’s massive data workloads. They know that the cloud is the answer. But in the face of a growing list of competing cloud solutions, they’re confounded by the same critical questions: 

How can we share our company’s data in a public cloud to improve customer experience while securing it from fraud, theft and cyber threats? 

How do we mine critical, actionable insights from rising volumes of corporate data?

How do we move our company into the cognitive era of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI)?

As if that wasn’t complicated enough, these companies must also consider the emerging forms of cloud-based services such as Blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT). So, how does a leader make the right cloud choice? When examining the options, the best cloud solutions will share these core characteristics. 

It must be enterprise strong

Look first for an industrial strength public cloud, which delivers a hybrid blend of choice and consistency. This kind of option includes advanced security compared with private cloud options and offers scale for future growth. One company that chose this route is AT&T, a global telecommunications provider, which is supporting business customers’ IoT with data insights. For an oil and gas company to detect unusual events in its wells, for example, it could use AT&T’s IoT network to ingest data from hundreds of wells. This data feeds the models necessary with appropriate machine learning libraries and open source technology to help predict potential failures or machine malfunctions. The company can detect anomalies in less time and with greater accuracy. 

It must possess data-first architecture

To acquire the best business insight, leaders must choose cloud options that prioritize data diversity (the ability to combine public, private and licensed data), data control with locality (understanding location, who is using the data and for what) and data isolation (the practice of preventing the data from being mined for commercial reasons). A good example of a company taking this kind of data-first approach is KONE, a global engineering business that specializes in elevators and escalators, which uses sensors to connect its products to the Internet of Things. With the collected data, KONE employs IBM Watson to track predictive fail rates. At that point, Salesforce uses Customer Relationship Management (CRM) information to deploy repairs. KONE ultimately maximizes uptime for more than one million elevators and escalators that move more than one billion people every day. 

It must have cognitive at its core

Today’s enterprise cloud must possess a full range of cognitive abilities, from machine learning to AI. In its most advanced form, this translates to human-like capabilities such as seeing, hearing and reading. Like many industries, global banking is being disrupted as clients are choosing mobile devices over brick-and-mortar offices. Banks are an interesting example, as they need to find increasingly more innovative ways to serve both their existing customers with complete security and at a low cost, while increasing responsive service offerings for the growing number of small and medium-sized tier entrepreneurs. For Sidian Bank in Kenya, carrying out this strategy has involved collaborating with IBM on a hybrid cloud infrastructure model in a first of its kind implementation in the region. Prior to engaging IBM, about 40 percent of a typical business day's working hours at Sidian Bank were spent on problem isolation. Today, however, through infrastructure as a service and cognitive management, the system can learn from past incidents and resolve 56 percent of any difficulties with minimum human intervention. This has enabled Sidian Bank to realize 34 percent savings in capital expenses and a 60 percent improvement in transactional times across all ATMs and teller counters. 

Every company’s data workload will continue to grow at a rapid pace. That only elevates the importance of its cloud solution choices. The most successful leaders will consciously consider these characteristics to move their companies faster and further into the future.

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