The Coronavirus is causing disruption on a global scale. It’s been suggested that the virus is going to become the biggest economic event since the second world war. Many organisations are struggling to survive and it’s becoming clearer that the brand landscape will look significantly different once this is all over.
The travel and retail sectors are amongst the hardest hit, but in reality, any business that relies on an experiential strategy for revenue generation is being impacted. Organisations are being tested and judged on their response.
But strategy isn’t the only thing being tested here. Whilst some organisations are facing quite stunning losses there are other enterprises seeing huge surges in demand for their products and services. We’ve seen supermarkets and retailers IT infrastructure crumble under the pressure of this increased demand.
In response, a number of those retailers, notedly Ocado and B&Q have implemented the “virtual queue” to stop their services from crashing under the increased load. Although it’s kept services up and running, the ramifications of this strategy have reduced revenue and significantly dented customer satisfaction which has been bolstered with thousands of complaints and social media comments.
PaaS to the rescue?
Cloud technology has been evolving at a rapid pace for the last ten years and organisations often fail to recognise the impact that the latest incarnation of cloud computing can bring to their businesses.
Platform as a Service, or PaaS, is without a doubt one of the biggest revolutions in the evolving cloud landscape. PaaS includes infrastructure (servers, storage and networking) but also middleware, development tools, business intelligence (BI) services, database management systems and a range of pre-fabricated micro-services which you can procure with little to no code required.
PaaS has the ability to prevent the underlying causes of the virtual queue, enabling you to scale services seamlessly, meet demand and continue to deliver great experiences to your customers.
One of the biggest benefits that PaaS can bring to your organisation is scalability. With traditional infrastructure, when developing a new application or system your business typically has two choices: you optimise for the size/scale you’re at now, leaving little room for growth, or you optimise for an anticipated size/scale you’ll be at in the future, attracting unnecessary costs and resource requirements. Most organisations, therefore, go for the first option.
So when you want to scale a system to meet increased demand, you’d have to add more tin – either physical servers or virtual machines. This isn’t always a quick process: provision, setup and configuration of servers takes time to achieve before you’re able to benefit from increased compute.
With PaaS, services such as Azure functions allow you to configure your systems to automatically scale vertically and horizontally to handle increased load, identify bottlenecks and optimise your storage performance. This elasticity is built into the infrastructure. Your code runs in parallel, scaling precisely with the size of the workload – all important factors in dealing with varying levels of demand and modernising your applications.
PaaS leverages the elasticity inherent in cloud computing, but presents it in an easy-to-use way, abstracting away the complexity.
PaaS vendors such as Azure use technologies and techniques in their products to keep availability high enough that they can offer SLAs at or above 99.99%. Azure also has the tools, technologies and expertise to help you avoid any unplanned outages that can cause downtime.
PaaS services are elastic (they scale automatically to meet demand) and can be spread across multiple regions; failover and backup are built into the services, as opposed to being an additional consideration.
With no physical servers (or virtual machines) you don’t have to worry about CPU cores, RAM or Operating Systems. You don’t have to worry about replacing disks when they break or get full or keep on top of the constant stream of software updates. All of this is managed by your cloud platform provider.
Working with reusable components on a PaaS platform allows you to create innovative solutions in a fraction of the time – accelerating your product and service development. Without the cost and complexity of buying and managing all the infrastructure, software licenses, development tools, and everything else you’d need to build solutions in-house, you can focus your teams’ energy and talent on delivering better outcomes for your business.
Microsoft has also commoditised a number of AI services in Azure PaaS. This gives your developers the opportunity to build innovative and sophisticated solutions, leveraging complex AI and Machine Learning functionality out of the box, revolutionising the experience you can offer to your users.
Rather than configuring your own machine learning models, Microsoft’s Cognitive Services provide a trained model for you. This brings data and an algorithm together, available from a REST API(s) or SDK. Text to speech, translation services, image recognition and real-time video analytics are just some of the services that can be deployed.
You can implement these services within minutes, depending on your scenario. This means you can integrate the latest innovations quickly and easily into your solutions, providing a powerful competitive advantage and giving you new ways to deliver delightful experiences to your customers.
We’re all trying to find our way through this period of unprecedented disruption. Businesses across the UK are racing to the cloud to help alleviate the pressure that Covid-19 is putting on their products and services.
Organisations that have not modernised their applications are now feeling the pinch. Services are having to scale up all over the place and are failing to meet demand.
It’s always been the case, that you don’t need a big bang for your buck digital transformation programme to improve the experiences you can offer your customers. But by using the latest evolution of cloud technology, you can “PaaSify” your systems, introducing features such as scalability, guaranteed uptime and freeing you to focus on innovation and driving your organisation forward.
And now is the time to do it.
Want to understand how PaaS could further accelerate your digital transformation? Download our free eBook the CIO’s Guide to PaaS, now.