IT Brief New Zealand - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
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Is the cloud simplifying or adding complexity to digital transformation? The answer is both
Mon, 29th Aug 2022
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Digital and cloud transformation have become key drivers of innovation in recent years, helping organisations stay relevant by creating software, apps, digital products and using data to build competitive advantage.

But cloud and digital transformation have become a double edged sword: on one hand they can help simplify processes and unlock innovation, and on the other they can create extra complexity.

Whether it's in financial services, retail, education or healthcare every industry is increasingly relying on digital systems and data to increase productivity, efficiency and create new offerings.

But all these efforts are in vain if what organisations end up doing is adding more complexity to their architecture and impeding developers' productivity, ultimately defeating the whole purpose of going to the cloud in the first place.

Developers find that cloud can make data architecture more complex

A recent report we conducted across APAC looked at what was enabling and what was blocking innovation and developer productivity.

The results were telling: 60% of respondents said digital transformation has increased data architecture complexity, and while nearly half (46%) said that moving to the cloud helped simplify their architecture, over a third (38%) said the cloud has made their data architecture more complex.

Why is that the case?  

Problems on-premises remain problems in the cloud 

One of the reasons this complexity is growing is that working with data is the hardest part of building and evolving applications - as pointed out by respondents, complex data architecture is a main limiting factor when it comes to innovation and developers' productivity.

This is because many of the systems used by organisations are either built on outdated, legacy architecture, and/or have become a sprawl of cloud components.

Migrating from legacy to cloud environments requires a change in all the ways of doing things - processes need to be rethought, the data mindset needs to change, and so on. Unfortunately, many don't take this path and instead just “lift and shift” existing infrastructure to the cloud, adding services as they go.

The reality is that problems on-premises will remain problems in the cloud, and the more services and apps are being added the more these problems and complexity grow.

As requirements for modern applications grow, so too does underlying infrastructure bloat as more modern services are added (i.e. search functionality, mobile, analytics and more).  This turns infrastructure into  a plate of spaghetti that consumes developers' time and organisations' money in addition to blocking innovation.

Organisations looking to move to the cloud or expand their cloud transformation journey need to make sure they're doing it in a way that simplifies things

Cultivating a new developer-driven innovation mindset focused on simplicity

Moving away from a “lift and shift” approach requires a more holistic strategy, focusing on understanding what reduces complexity and what would make developers' life easier.

Successful organisations that have built recurring, sustainable, and scalable innovation while reducing complexity have four things in common:

  1. Developers are key - They understand the key role developers play in their broader innovation agenda, and empower developers by prioritising removing all obstacles to productivity, including rigid data structures, fragmented developer experiences, and any undifferentiated work. 
  2. Standardisation - They prioritise elegant and repeatable architectures and use niche technologies only when they are absolutely necessary.
  3. Security first - They are very intentional about how they address security and data privacy and work to satisfy sophisticated requirements without compromising simplicity or the developer experience, or let privacy become a separate, massive science project.
  4. Data anywhere - They don't compromise on deployment flexibility when it comes to their data. They're ahead of data gravity and can deploy a single application globally across regions and multiple clouds without having to rewrite code or spend months in planning.

Many organisations across APAC are leading the way when it comes to removing complexity and empowering developers, they're the ones to follow. For example, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank recently conducted an ambitious cloud transformation project which has empowered developers with the right tools, resulting in a reduction of data and cloud complexity, a 60% reduction in cloud usage costs, a 20% improvement in performance, and a 30% increase in resilience.

For technology professionals to innovate, they need platforms and tools that make it easier to work with data, not harder. There are no quick fixes to problems, but with the right approaches and technologies, technology professionals can be better equipped to add simplicity instead of complexity.