Cloud transformation in 2024: Get the fundamentals right to reap the GenAI benefits

James has more than a decade of experience as a tech journalist, writer and editor, and served as Editor in Chief of TechForge Media between 2017 and 2021. James was named as one of the top 20 UK technology influencers by Tyto, and has also been cited by Onalytica, Feedspot and Zsah as an influential cloud computing writer.

What is cloud transformation going to look like in 2024? Whatever the model and industry, it will almost certainly be flavoured with generative AI – and it will touch areas from application modernisation to cost optimisation.  

With regard to the former, look to Gartner’s 2024 predictions, with the headline of ‘every strategic conversation needs to include GenAI’. “By 2027, GenAI tools will be used to explain legacy business applications and create appropriate replacements, reducing modernisation costs by 70%,” the analyst noted. The technology, Gartner added, can help with modernisation and refactoring plans, as well as testing and validation. 

For the latter meanwhile, Adrian Bradley, partner, and head of cloud at KPMG, makes a striking statement. Generative AI not only has ‘enormous potential to reduce costs and release value’, but it has ‘subtly changed the balance of power between cloud and non-cloud infrastructure providers.’ Why? Because as more organisations need cloud-based generative AI services, the public cloud becomes non-negotiable. 

More broadly however, Bradley notes that the future shape of the cloud will depend on how companies settle into using AI services. The hyperscalers are innovating at a frightening pace in this regard. Barely a week goes by without the biggest cloud providers issuing some kind of announcement. Take The Information’s report on Microsoft forming a new team to make cheaper generative AI for instance, or Google announcing a new UK data centre this week alone.  

Those who understand this landscape best – and quickest – will surely succeed. But don’t forget the fundamentals. “What’s certain is that the functional focus will remain… using cloud to save costs in the back office, and drive revenue and margin in the front office,” notes Bradley. 

What this looks like in practice will depend on your architectural approach – and your budget. Rehosting, or lift and shift, is the simplest approach but does not offer good long-term value. Refactoring, or app modernisation, provides high ROI and reduces the total cost of ownership but projects cost a lot of time, money, and knowledge. Replatforming is somewhere in between, enabling the addition of cloud-native features from autoscaling to infrastructure as code (IaC) without a massive overhaul. 

If this sounds like something of a headache, then help is at hand. Pluralsight, a provider of online education services – and one of the sponsors of the upcoming Cloud Transformation Conference TechForge event – has among its offerings a Cloud Maturity Matrix which helps organisations build cloud cultures and meet business goals. The company found in its 2023 State of Cloud report that many companies, in terms of maturity, were somewhere in the middle; their focus on cloud services meant that strategies and outcomes were being neglected. 

As a session from Erik Gross, Pluralsight principal consultant for engineering transformation, and Luis Teixeira, VP and head of CloudOps at Demandbase outlined, for many organisations tactics can often be muddled. Lift and shift is fine when done intentionally, but frequently it isn’t. Teixeira shared his top tips for cloud migration based on his experience at Demandbase; don’t manually log into your cloud solution and click buttons to manage infrastructure, and grow and shrink your infrastructure as needed to maximise efficiency and reduce costs.  

In other words – IaC and autoscaling. Yet every organisation is different, and a world of options, and opportunities, are available. 

At the Cloud Transformation Conference, a virtual event being held on February 15, attendees will hear from those who have been on the frontline at enabling cultural and technological change, from TSB, to ASDA, to the Ministry of Defence. The use cases range from re-architecting and re-platforming applications to cloud-native, to spinning a startup unicorn out of a large-scale enterprise. 

Remember that the rewards for getting this right are varied and long-term. PwC reports that companies who have already reinvented their business and operations through cloud modernisation are realising value at twice the rate of companies running outdated systems and processes.  

Organisations which are all-in on cloud ‘also expect to see measurable returns on investment within the next 12 months’, in areas ranging from agility to resilience. “Those that do not have a fit-for-purpose cloud and data strategy will get left behind, unable to grasp the benefits of new technologies such as AI and GenAI that depend on cloud,” PwC notes, echoing Gartner. 

Bradley sums it all up succinctly. “The cloud is where the best enterprises go to build the capabilities required to compete, remain resilient, and delight customers.” So what are you waiting for? 

Photo by Tara Winstead

Check out the upcoming Cloud Transformation Conference, a free virtual event for business and technology leaders to explore the evolving landscape of cloud transformation. Book your free virtual ticket to deep dive into the practicalities and opportunities surrounding cloud adoption. Learn more here.

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