By Sanjay Hiranandani, VP, IT Operations-Paychex, Inc
The continual emergence and impact of various trends within the cloud space has made way for a multitude of possibilities that will change this evolving landscape over the next few years. In my view, the emerging trends in the cloud industry are really three-fold. They include, simplification of interfaces, ubiquitous availability of connectivity and mobile devices, and continually increasing speeds of network access. There are many innovative start-ups that offer drag and drop facilities to move cloud files from one service to another. Through desktops and mobile, cloud files are made accessible using a single web based app facilitating for a very easy to use interface. Another significant evolving trend is the ubiquity of cloud connectivity. This would come as a new wave to the cloud technology and many enterprises are scaling up their engineering and business skills to connect products/ devices to the cloud across various channels. This also brings us to the next big shift, that is, high speed network access. A rapidly changing business landscape means more demand to be connected and at a faster rate. Businesses always look for the fastest access to connect to cloud services and hence there is an uprise in the speeds at which networks can be accessed. All of these comprise of a great solution vendor's kit. In general, vendors have done a good job innovating and creating platforms that allow cloud providers to effectively deliver their services to clients. However, it is still extremely challenging for a cloud provider, with today's availability of operating systems, software platforms and frameworks, to deliver services that are highly available 7x24x365. There is a greater and greater demand for around-the-clock availability for consumers. An area that would be of significant help to providers would be an increased focus on in service, real-time vendor software, and operating system upgrades that would allow services to be delivered without disruption during change windows.
Building More 'Performant' Solutions
Cloud software development best practices and deployment can be worked in from the start on new projects, but established enterprises often have high-value legacy systems that the new work must integrate with. Making the changes to legacy systems so that they are able to be run in the cloud can be a massive challenge for many reasons. Some of those reasons include legacy technologies and design methodologies that do not fold easily into cloud offerings and best practices, expertise gaps, and risk of changing the high-value systems. We have had great success in moving legacy code to the cloud as a proof concept, but it does entail significant heavy lifting. We have an intense focus on making sure our applications are performant, that performance is predictable, and we can share that information with our clients. When we control our infrastructure and platform, we can ensure that predictability. Shared infrastructure and cloud providers maintaining and balancing the infrastructure and platform within their frames can impact this, so we need to purchase cloud products with predictable SLAs. For a financial services company like Paychex, security and protection of our client's sensitive information is of utmost priority. Many of our clients expect us to take a very conservative and measured approach to the adoption of technologies that could impact that requirement. The key is balancing that need with our desire to use new technologies in order to advance our business.
What Challenges Entrepreneurs?
(a) One of the biggest issues facing business leaders today is an increasingly challenging security and privacy environment. There is more ubiquitous access to technology that has empowered those who have intentions to cause harm or use technology to commit fraudulent acts. Delivering faster, more scalable, and easily accessible technology in the face of ensuring the security and integrity of information will continue to challenge businesses. (b) The ability to retain highly skilled experienced employees and leaders who can drive positive change and innovation continues to be a key challenge, especially in an environment where the demand for such individuals continues to rise. (c) Constant innovation at faster and faster speeds is a huge challenge. This is especially true in an era when profitability and cost consciousness are keys to every business. It's a challenge that when conquered, differentiates industry leaders from laggards.
Extending Initiatives to Innovate
I encourage my teams to bring initiatives to the table, while being ambitious, could be game-changers for our business; initiatives that are revolutionary rather than evolutionary. Giving assignments to leaders that are outside their comfort zones allows them to bring fresh perspective that is unencumbered by an old way we do things. This allows them to stretch their respective skill sets, and helps them and the rest of the organization see out-of-the-box possibilities.