IT Infrastructure and Business Process Automation
Business process automation is typically viewed in the context of specific vertical and horizontal industries. There have been several software innovations like SAP, RPA, solutions in supply chain, healthcare mobility solutions, financial services (Fintech) etc. Infrastructure modernization is often ignored or punted to the consumer.
WRITTEN BY VENKAT THIRUVENGADAM
PUBLISHED MARCH 24, 2023
“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”
— Peter F. Drucker
Digital transformation is about changing the business processes in an organization to adopt modern cloud solutions that result in substantially more automated and time efficient workflows leading to labor optimization and increased productivity. Companies adopting digital transformation become more nimble, are able to scale rapidly, grow their business and fend off competition from non-traditional rivals who are natively digital.
This business transformation is not possible without fundamentally rearchitecting the underlying technology infrastructure that drives the business processes.
Business process automation is typically viewed in the context of specific vertical and horizontal industries. There have been several software innovations like SAP, RPA, solutions in supply chain, healthcare mobility solutions, financial services (Fintech) etc. Infrastructure modernization is often ignored or punted to the consumer. Without a native and out-of-box supporting solution to IT, many innovative and specialized software applications aimed at automating business processes take too long to deliver, thereby diluting the return on investment.
Case Study 1:
Success of managed services by Amazon Web Services (AWS)
AWS has many non-IAAS products (beyond Storage, Compute and Networking) like databases, IOT platform, AI/ML solutions, Analytics etc. All of them are “managed” i.e. developers can directly consume them without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure. The claim here is that, AWS solutions for vertical industries are successful, not just because the subject matter content is great but also because they are “managed”. In fact, much of public cloud’s success can be attributed to the infrastructure problem they have solved at various business layers.
A relevant example is of Confluent, a multi-billion-dollar valuation company which, at its core, is adding an infrastructure management layer in top of open source Kafka. In fact, many of the successful functional software have existed prior to the cloud and the only value that the public cloud adds, in this context, is that it takes care of the infrastructure which, in itself, is a massive value proposition because of the large business scaling possibilities.
Case Study 2:
Failure of Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) in building their next generation cloud offering
Last year we were commissioned, by two distinct ISV (Independent Software Vendor) company CTOs, to do a postmortem of why their effort to build the next generation “cloud” version of their well-established on-premise product failed in spite of millions of dollars in investment. Infrastructure issues were at the core of both the failures. Most ISVs effort to build the next generation “cloud” version of their well-established on-premise product fail, in spite of millions of dollars in investments. Infrastructure issues are at the core of majority of such failures.
They got trapped into a very common pattern we are seeing increasingly:
The goal was to build a cloud ready product. Any literature on the internet talked about Microservices, Docker, Lambda, Devops along with Multi-Tenant SAAS.
To be fair I think the ISV Companies knew their core business was single tenant and not many clients would buy a hosted multi-tenant SAAS. “But will this solution work for the core audience?” This question has not been properly addressed by the ISV industry.
Fast forward 2 years, many millions spent, Multi-Tenant SAAS is not selling. It turns out the underlying infrastructure has 17+ micro-services, all the latest and best tools are in use, but specialized devops teams are required to run the infrastructure.
The net result: The “SaaS” product cannot be shipped to customer who do not have the know-how or the will to operate such an infrastructure in the cloud. The new business features that were linked to this “SaaS” release also get lost from the core enterprise solution.
Next gen cloud platform dies, the company decides to ship the existing on-premise solution with a reference architecture for customers to download and install from AWS and Azure marketplace. This approach is a very painful process for customers and business growth slows down.
The conclusion here is how an ill-informed infrastructure architecture with a noble intent can fail a product line.
Case Study 3:
Economic loss and delayed ROI with enterprise applications
Many modern-day applications from companies like SAP, EMC, Cisco, VMWare, Adobe AEM, Kafka, RPA software provide great value to their users, but installing and maintaining them requires specialized skills. Each one of this software require certified engineers, and several months to do the deployment, before business value can be realized. In the overall ROI analysis, the cost of operations and opportunity cost due to long implementation cycles, makes the value of such ERPs questionable.
Next generation enterprise applications will be simplistic to deploy, and/or the software will ship with cloud automation infrastructure bot, that can manage itself. Alternatively, the software vendor will have a “managed service” offering that would scale to thousands of clients.