“Discover your own added value in the cloud”
Interview for Computerworld, 30 August 2019
Many companies are considering switching to the cloud. Not simply replacing IT, but taking a strategic approach, can realise added value for the business, says Heiko Faller, Managing Director Enterprise Solutions at Ergon Informatik.
What typical cloud-related challenges do IT decision-makers bring to you, and how do you go about them?
Our customers want experts to help them transition to the cloud. Some of them have already begun to transfer business processes, and some are at a pretty advanced stage. These clients are looking for advice on architecture and on porting existing solutions and newly developed cloud-native ones. They also like us to evaluate the various cloud services that are out there.
Ergon's aim is to integrate our solutions with the cloud as seamlessly as possible, and then to utilise their services to generate further added value. Machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cognitive services such as speech and text recognition come to mind. Employing existing cloud services can often speed up development.
Cloud technology services such as chatbots are mostly frameworks, and they have their limits. What should we be aware of?
As a general rule, with any (online) service it is important to understand both its potential and its limitations, and to see it in the context of our particular application. The conditions of use must be examined down to the last detail because many of the constrictions are legal, not technical, in nature. Just as we do when selecting conventional frameworks, before we make our decision we do a thorough analysis that covers a multitude of aspects.
Some providers warn about prices for the public cloud, which might look low but can soon work out more expensive than the private option. What's your view?
With both options, the cost structure depends on a variety of factors that can push prices up or down. With the public cloud, for example, cost trends are tied to competition, but will probably remain the same or fall. It is very difficult to predict which way the private cloud will go.
Also, in many cases the public/private decision is made on more than costs alone. There are often other requirements in the mix, such as the desire to maintain full, independent control of certain business processes. That's one reason for choosing a private cloud. We mostly see a hybrid approach in these scenarios, with public and private clouds existing side by side, even interacting.
It is not exactly easy to navigate all of the various cloud services on offer, even for the experts. How do you keep an overview so that you're able to advise your customers?
Many of our staff deal with the maze of different cloud offerings every day. Then you have to think of the multiple cloud certifications, which expand upon the various aspects of the different providers’ services. Beyond that, we have a specialist cloud group for internal knowledge-sharing. We implement software in a range of cloud settings, so we have a broad base of experience, and can offer our clients professional advice.
Good IT service providers clearly define what they do, and don't, offer. Where do you stand where the cloud is concerned? What sets you apart?
As an independent IT service provider, Ergon realises customer projects on all of the common cloud platforms. We tailor them to the specific requirements of each case. We start with a consultation. If the customer opts for a cloud-based solution, we draw up the ideal scenario for their needs. Once it is clear what needs to be done, we implement the project with the right experts for the job. Our cloud services almost always cover application development and infrastructure setups, but we frequently also bring in our special Internet of Things, Data Analytics, Machine Learning and Cloud Migrations divisions.
What do you expect from cloud computing in the future?
For a while now we've been seeing more and more companies putting aside their (entirely justified) fears about using the cloud. They're coming round to the advantages that it can have for their business. It's to be assumed that this trend will continue, and that increasing numbers will decide in future to make their existing and new services available in the cloud.