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 As data center hardware became outdated, we looked for a solution that was cost effective and easy to maintain.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: