As our latest Accenture Technology Vision reveals, there’s plenty of evidence we’re living in a post-digital era. For companies that want to innovate and grow, maturing digital technology is no longer just an advantage—it’s a requirement. And what will truly set companies apart is the way they merge and combine technologies with how they run their business. Often, getting the best out of that combination means looking outside of their own four walls.

At Accenture, multi-cloud is the new cloud reality as we focus on using today’s technologies to drive our own innovation journey. Ninety-five percent of our company now operates in the cloud. As we head toward the next stage—living in the cloud—we recognize that a multi-provider approach is essential to finding “best fit” cloud services that mean we can swiftly deliver better business outcomes.

Help is at hand with Azure SQL and AWS Aurora

Using Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings from various cloud vendors is one way our global IT organization is shifting our energy from managing machines ourselves to tapping into the resources that can help us better serve the business. How? Well, let’s take what we’ve done with our application databases. We decided to move the majority of the company’s virtual machine (VM)-hosted servers to either Microsoft Azure SQL managed instance or to Amazon Aurora.

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A managed instance makes it easy to migrate applications to PaaS with only a few application and database changes. And it gives all the benefits of PaaS capabilities (such as automatic patching and version updates, automated backups, and high availability) while keeping management and cost to a minimum. Of course, in an organization the size of Accenture, it’s not entirely plain sailing—we must consider things like security and automation—but with the support of our in-house experts as well as vendor partners, the switch has proved highly successful.

Accenture also needed to have a viable PaaS service in Amazon Web Services (AWS) so that we could make a multi-cloud environment viable. Our global IT team migrated our existing servers to AWS Aurora—a compatible relational database built for the cloud, that combines the performance and availability of high-end commercial databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open source databases. We expected the hosting costs to decrease with serverless options. In fact, we gained a win-win as our licensing costs came down and our flexibility to migrate data went up.

Our end goal is to eliminate 95 percent of our virtual machines in the next three years and to realize efficiencies by shifting maintenance responsibilities to service providers. 

Application developers will also be able to take advantage of cloud-native services. The process of migrating our databases has begun and will increase more and more as services are solidified.

Here’s what we expect will be possible from the path we’ve taken to use PaaS in a multi-cloud environment:

  • As-a-service model eliminates server management tasks of monitoring and OS/SQL upgrades
  • Enhanced security and compliance as service provider experts manage security
  • Hosting cost savings anticipated in year two and ongoing

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A platform for progress

Accenture is an early adopter of PaaS in the context of database applications. And we want to make sure our internal teams can migrate their application databases with as little effort as possible. To help, we’ve developed a range of self-help manuals that put the power back in the hands of the application teams—they can migrate any time to suit their own agendas.

At the same time, balancing workload across many cloud service providers means Accenture needed a viable PaaS service in AWS. Our IT team brainstormed with AWS and we generated a whole new way of conducting large-scale SQL Server to Aurora migrations.

By taking a multi-provider approach in our choice of cloud services providers, we not only spread the risk, but also gain the flexibility to use the best-fit cloud services. And that has to be the goal for any organization wanting to move forward, innovate and grow and live in the cloud at scale and at pace.

Suhas Sane

Managing Director – Global IT, Data Architecture

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