The most important rule in IT is that “it has to work”. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about infrastructure, a specific application or a mailing system. Cloud services meet that rule. After all, a cloud solution can easily be launched and scaled, and you can also change your provider at any moment. All it takes is a few clicks. I asked Daniel Harlacz, Comarch Cloud Operations Manager, about cloud data processing and the revolution sparked by this technology.
Malgorzata Zabieglinska-Lupa: Global providers have observed record sales growth in cloud services and argue that cloud solutions allow entrepreneurs of any size to become more competitive. Many companies, however, have still not implemented a comprehensive cloud strategy. At what point should a company transition to a cloud model, and what challenges does this involve?
Daniel Harlacz: There is no one good answer as to when we should make the transition to a cloud model. For sure, our decision would benefit from economic analysis; it makes sense to weigh all the technological pros and cons, and consider legal requirements. A very important role in the decision-making process is played by the maturity of the enterprise, its work culture and size. The process will vary between an enterprise that follows concrete procedures, organizational processes and risk management protocols, and one that has not yet developed such standards. And those are just some factors. However, every company will face a series of challenges both in terms of technology and organization, and the process of transferring resources to a cloud environment will require careful planning. It is important that the transition is treated as a natural evolution resulting from the company’s business and technology environment, rather than a revolution that aims to change something in a very short time. Such an approach will boost the chances of success.
How do Comarch clients implement the cloud today?
At the moment, more and more companies are looking for cloud service providers or, dissatisfied with their current cloud environment, seeking an alternative. This becomes clear when you look at the growing number of queries received from organizations that already have cloud environments delivered by leading global providers, but wish to transfer some of their resources to a new provider or to build a complete DRC from scratch on the Comarch Cloud Infraspace platform.
How do you support them in their transition to the cloud in order to make the most of your experience and opportunities?
The Comarch portfolio offers a comprehensive package that features everything from applications to the cloud platform and managed services. This allows us to provide each client with a solution that meets their highest expectations, while remaining flexible in terms of price and technology. Clients who look for cloud solutions often have a rather vague idea of what they need. Our experts come in to analyze their current environment, suggest a solution optimal in terms of cost and technology, prepare its proof of concept and implement it using the chosen IaaS, PaaS or SaaS model on the Comarch Infraspace platform. Thanks to our experience, we do not have to limit ourselves to our own data centers. We can also implement cloud environments in our clients’ data centers and, should they wish, help in their administration and maintenance in all the models I mentioned.
How will IT infrastructure investment in enterprises evolve in the coming years?
The current trend, which is gradually becoming a standard, is to combine the public and private cloud models in what is known as the hybrid cloud. If we keep in mind that companies also wish to reduce their reliance on a single provider and use tools available only from a specific source, the model will become increasingly complex, turning into a multi-cloud. At the moment, most businesses, regardless of whether they use a private or public cloud, usually rely on solutions delivered by many different providers, and have activated cloud systems with more than one supplier. This is the model that can be expected to grow the most in the coming years, because clients want to avoid dependence on a single cloud provider, while every provider strives to develop unique solutions and offer something that others do not have.
Today, the cloud is one of the most important elements of the business world, the be all and end all for millions of companies around the globe. What trends do you observe in the adoption of public and private cloud solutions?
In recent years, we have witnessed a massive migration to the cloud, as evidenced by annual IT market analysis. Initially, businesses usually opt for the public cloud, to which they transfer systems that are less critical but require the rapid delivery of specific resources or the ability to create new instances. A case in point could be developer or test environments. On the other hand, private cloud solutions are gradually gaining ground because they offer opportunities until recently available only through standard hosting, i.e. a dedicated, fully controlled equipment infrastructure.
“Everything in the public cloud – an irreversible trend”, at least according to those who provide this type of service. What about the private cloud?
The private cloud model is primarily targeted at users who have already transferred some of their resources to the public cloud and understand what it means. Transitioning to a private cloud is often the next step taken by an enterprise that expects more than the public cloud can deliver. In public cloud solutions, equipment is shared with other users, which may lead to a phenomenon dubbed “noisy neighborhood” and involve efficiency losses. In addition, one builds one’s application and virtual infrastructure based on products available in the provider’s portfolio, which is a certain limitation.
The private cloud model allows one to take a different approach and adjust the cloud to specific user needs that, until recently, could only be met by traditional hosting. Private cloud solutions deliver dedicated equipment infrastructure customized for a single client and able to stand up to the most rigorous compliance and security standards for this type of data processing. A private cloud complies with legal and industry regulations and allows the user to benefit from fast and free resource allocation while keeping costs in check. This means that the client can control the entire environment and maintain business control, which is the goal in every sector.
Using infrastructure as a service does not involve the automatic creation of a cloud-native infrastructure. What can you tell me about the cloud-native approach?
Transferring an application to the cloud and using an IaaS solution is not a whole lot different from typical hosting unless the application is adapted to the new environment in the process. When we call something “cloud-native”, what we really mean is the synergy of individual infrastructure elements that communicate through dedicated interfaces. It is two-way communication between software and the specific API technology stack, which serves as the environment for the application. When the application is able to exchange data with infrastructure, it can react to infrastructure events, and if this communication and response process also goes the other way, i.e. if infrastructure reacts to application events, we can talk of a cloud-native environment, a cloud-native application or cloud-native infrastructure.
It looks like the cloud has now become the pivotal element of digital business strategy. How does Comarch reshape the way companies see innovation and the cloud?
Comarch changes in step with technological advances. Today, cloud solutions play an increasingly important role in business. We started from delivering developer environments for the internal purposes of our application design teams. At the moment, the entire technology stack is being reconstructed to allow our applications to become cloud-native. We have set up a special board made up of technology experts and decision-makers who are responsible for setting the direction for the process and overseeing its execution. Our cloud solutions, beginning from an internal cloud platform, have evolved into a complete product targeted at external clients. Known collectively as the Cloud Infraspace platform, these solutions mark a milestone in the development of Comarch and consolidate our leading position in the digital revolution around the world. We are planning to launch similar solutions outside Kraków, in our data centers in Lille and Dresden, and perhaps also in Chicago and Kuala Lumpur, in the near future.
What do you think the future development of the cloud will look like?
In the future, the cloud market will most likely continue to grow, offering new products and applications. On the one hand, the process will be spurred by advances in cloud technology, and on the other, it will be influenced by increased demand for specific solutions stemming from the growth of markets and companies. I hope we will be able to stand out as a cloud provider not only in Poland but also among foreign clients. At Comarch, we remain committed to the constant development of our cloud applications.