Everything that it takes to run Accenture as a business is in the cloud. From Finance to HR, Marketing to Legal, our systems are cloud hosted, along with all new applications. From 2015 to 2018, we realized more than US$20M in savings and have determined the governance, standards and adoption that helps guide our local and regional offices around the world. As we continue our cloud native evolution, a further US$2M cost savings have been realized in 2020, alongside the benefits of greater speed and sustainability.
Accenture has not only achieved the secure, scalable and nimble advantages cloud brings, but also enabled digital services and experiences and generated new business value. Now, we can fast-track the next generation of cloud capabilities.
“Cloud technologies today offer new IT potential through flexible and resilient capabilities. We can operate and deliver value in new ways so much faster and more securely.”
— DON GALZARANO, Managing Director – Global IT, Enterprise Architecture
Innovating in the cloud
Cloud value and optimization
When tech meets human ingenuity
Most businesses today are familiar with the benefits of using cloud to streamline technologies and speed up how they operate to be faster, flexible and more resilient. But that doesn’t mean the prospect of shifting to the cloud is straightforward or easy. An Accenture survey found that nearly two-thirds of companies haven’t fully achieved their expected outcomes from cloud initiatives, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has turned cloud adoption into a mandate. For many, there are questions around whether cloud is secure, if it is possible to save money in the cloud, and whether they have the right technologies and skills in place to pursue the cloud journey in earnest.
Accenture is familiar with all these uncertainties. But having worked on more than 30,000 cloud-related projects with our clients, we know that the migration to provision the company’s infrastructure in the cloud not only brings benefits, but also is a logical step.
Any business that wants to be a digital business with a digital workforce needs its applications and data in the cloud. Growth necessitates changes to how the business operates. A lot of work that goes into IT hygiene adds no value back to the business—such as, upgrading, scanning and patching. Cloud opens the door to automation and simplification and helps to reduce the complexity of legacy systems that cannot accommodate new ways of working.
Accenture is a business with more than 650,000 people, all using workstations and mobiles and needing to communicate securely and reliably in every corner of the world. As data center hardware became outdated, we looked for a solution that was cost effective and easy to maintain. And we wanted to act fast, knowing that cloud platforms which could quickly adapt to demand can put us in a position to innovate how we operate and the offerings our business brings to the market.
Where we started: Cloud journey
When we embarked on our cloud journey in 2015, no comprehensive cloud management solutions in the market existed and cloud technologies were continuously maturing. As a result, we invested in developing an end-to-end cloud management platform that provides the tools and managed service capabilities needed to operate at scale, at speed, and in a secure way.
We brought together specialists in various disciplines across the organization to grow our cloud capabilities, resulting in more than 200 cloud certifications in four years and 150 certified services in production. We developed a comprehensive journey map—from establishing the foundation through to rapid cloud adoption. When the technical foundation was set and cloud adoption was well underway, we shifted to make the best use of new environments and services (which is where cloud’s optimal hosting pricing models came into its own). Finally, we focused on the transformation of IT processes, responsibilities, and capabilities. The cloud team committed to using agile principles in an environment that was not known initially for its flexible qualities—being globally dispersed, infrastructure-focused, and with multiple technology functions and owners.
In the first three years of the program, Accenture saw its cloud footprint increase from 9% to 90% of all business applications. We reduced cloud provisioning lead times up to 50% for standard environment provisioning. We realized US$14.5M in benefits after the third year. We right-sized service consumption without impacting application performance and saw an additional US$3M in annualized avoided costs. We reserved cloud instances in advance that offered a discount of up to 40% over a one-year term, which yielded US$1M in savings. We made the best of event-based serverless computing functions in the cloud that meant we could offer more than 70 cloud-native services. And we didn’t stop there.
Where we’re headed: Cloud native
We continue to evolve our cloud capabilities as part of our strategy to bring about technology-powered business transformation. Now, we are taking advantage of the cloud-first foundation and making sure all our people actively embrace a cloud native culture.
In the cloud, code is key so the more the better to enhance scope and scale—which is why we have chosen to work with multi-cloud providers to get the best of all worlds and take advantage of their areas of strength. Where possible, we use the public cloud platform—we currently use Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services as well as the Google Cloud Platform.
Our guiding principles are:
All new applications and services architected, designed, built and optimized for hosting in the cloud.
Production day zero secure
Protect the brand and intellectual property. Policy-driven—zero vulnerabilities at production.
Heavily fortified. Transparent to employees. Consistently available and predictable.
Cloud footprint is balanced over time, and includes three cloud providers: Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud.
Portability is enforced as migration across vendors allows for the benefit of provider-specific features.
Ability to scale usage up or down based on demand influx and variability.
Simplification and self-service
Simplification and self-service capability development are critical to cloud operations.
Shift to API-driven architectures, leveraging AI to "self-heal" components that fail.
Run as a utility
Consumed as a service. Software and code-driven. Dynamic and seamless change.
Cloud strategy is more than technology
We believe eight critical areas are essential to help build and shape a successful cloud strategy:
Develop the business case to determine how to migrate to the cloud and optimize to deliver greater value to the business.
Examine readiness of existing applications and their target platform. Create the strategy to achieve the transition where there is value.
Identify the impact on tools, processes and interaction between development and operations teams as a result of the shift to cloud adoption.
Operating model strategy
Define a to-be operating model for an IT organization to function smoothly after transitioning to cloud-enabled suite.
Employ leading practices to ensure secure usage of resources from cloud and adherence to governance, risk and compliance requirements.
Architect infrastructure so that it intelligently and seamlessly utilizes public and private cloud based on business requirements and integrates with legacy.
Cloud service strategy
Define how services will be operationally consumed and integrated into the support pipelines. Build application design principles with public cloud services.
Combine native internet support for cloud, internet only to minimize the corporate backbone and zero trust boundaryless networks.
A valuable difference
Our success results from early engagement, education, and close collaboration across multiple Accenture organizations, including data privacy, information security and ecosystem products and services. And it’s an ever-changing landscape. Cloud platform capabilities evolve quickly, so engagement needs to be ongoing and frequent. With one million virtual machines provisioned per year and moving our data lake to the cloud, there is a need for constant innovation.
Our cloud journey has seen us improve economics, sustainability, security, flexibility and speed. We’ve enabled an agile implementation approach to delivering incremental capabilities. As we evolve our cloud native capabilities we’ve been able to simplify the purchasing mechanism and realize an end-to-end business solution across application and infrastructure. Now, we’re seeing infrastructure optimization based on data, accelerating new infrastructure provisioning and achievingintelligent automation to help increase consistency, speed and quality in our business operations.
Decrease in average environment provisioning time (weeks to hours)
Savings projection over legacy delivery models
Net new applications built as cloud native
Estimated reduction in metric tons of carbon emissions in nine months
Estimated reduction of kWh of power consumption over nine months
Automation programs delivered over three years resulting in 35% cumulative savings in operational cost
What we learned Cloud helps us to move away from manual processes to a more automated way of working. In turn, we can collaborate better and use our technical knowledge to innovate more so that we can adapt how we run our business.
Here are some of the things we learned along the way:
Be fast and fluid. Solve for the majority. Architect efficiently and right-size your environments to align with actual consumption. Fail fast and iterate.
Focus on outcomes: Apply patterns, use cases and requirements and not raw cloud services. Avoid implementing outlying cases and rationalize environment usage.
Build and run differently: Closely align with security and bring them along for the journey. Make sure your organization has the right team with the right skills in place.
Accenture is at the cutting edge of cloud optimization. Putting cloud first made all the difference during the global pandemic—we shifted our entire workforce to remote working in a matter of days. Now, we continue to strengthen our cloud journey. And we look forward to helping our clients to benefit from our cloud-first experience.
Read more about how we have accelerated our journey to the cloud.