I recently spoke at a Rackspace event that we co-hosted with Alibaba, one of the hyperscale platforms we support within our managed public cloud portfolio. Alibaba is a network of high profile, consumer facing businesses and an entity that represents an extremely compelling proposition for Western organisations. The Chinese market that they underpin such a significant part of, has been the largest contributor to world economic growth over the past decade.
Alibaba can be viewed as a requirement, rather than a choice if your organisation is serious about expanding East. In part, this is down to government regulations: to have a presence in China, your company needs a provider that has experience in navigating the various complexities of operaring within the region.In addition, most online transactions in the region take place on mobile – this is a result of Chinese consumers bypassing PCs due to poor broadband infrastructure – but means that a typical consumer is, therefore, a very sophisticated user of online, digital and ecommerce apps. Any vertical looking to capitalize on the development in the region (common industries include financial services, retail, software development and media) must offer a superb experience or risk being disregarded. Alibaba represents a natural choice here by offering unique scale and functionality inside of the Chinese firewall. It’s little wonder that Alibaba possesses the largest market share, with over a third of China’s top 500 companies on Alibaba Cloud.
If you do not currently have a presence in China however, there is a reasonable chance that you won’t be using Alibaba. Instead, you are likely to be using a combination of private cloud and other public cloud platforms, more familiar with Western organisations. Rackspace’s role, as I outlined at the event, is to help you integrate all of these platforms together and leverage the technology so that your business can do things tomorrow, that aren’t possible today.
The benefits of multi cloud
At our recent event, CIOs were articulating the benefits of a multi-cloud approach. This approach was being considered for many reasons, including reducing risk, commercial leverage, and some clouds being better at certain tasks. In other words, just as you’d use Alibaba because it’s a great bet for expansion into China, businesses may find specific clouds superior for their needs in anything from data analytics to SAP.
The problem is most people interested in multi-cloud are primarily looking at technology considerations and little else. Often, when I talk to customers, they say “we have chosen Kubernetes as our multi-cloud strategy” but that alone won’t lead to success. At Rackspace, we know you must also place people and process at the heart of any solution designed to meet the challenges of multi-cloud.
Thinking beyond technology
The reality is that running multi-cloud is complicated – even more so than you may initially realise. You need multiple teams of varying disciplines who can deftly deal with different technologies; you’ll also have individual commercial agreements and legal agreements for each platform. Some things will only work on one cloud; you will have different ways to build, manage, secure and support key components. This results in layers of complexity, problems with consistency, and creates the potential for battling ‘fiefdoms’ within an organisation.
Rackspace’s role is to reduce those layers of complexity, and part of the way we do this is by helping to implement a Cloud Centre of Excellence (CCoE). This is the organisational structure that we believe best facilitates smooth and consistent cloud transformation projects. It goes beyond technology, considering people and process to be equally as important, thereby giving you a wider focus.
Following implementation of a CCoE, your organisation will have someone at board level to deal with impasses and deadlocks – to say “this is the route we’re taking”. Key business unit owners will be present to support the business case and value case underpinning the move to cloud. Core business functions such as legal, finance, and HR, whilst sometimes having been labelled as barriers to cloud adoption, should actually be instrumental in the smooth running of a multi-cloud strategy.
Whether you want to take advantage of opportunities in China, or elsewhere around the world, it’s perhaps only natural that you might first gravitate towards technology. But only by dealing with the thornier issues of cultural change – people, process and business structures – will your company be well-placed for global success.
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