The Cloud Experience Everywhere

The Land of Everything-as-a-Service

GettyImages-820219662_super_800_0_72_RGB.jpgIn the accelerated digital age, the consumer has well and truly been calling the shots.  One of the most interesting 'disruptions' to how we buy and sell and use things - and how we think about buying, selling, using etc - has been the move to things on demand, things as a service.

Sticking with the consumer sphere just for a minute… Viewers wanting to catch the latest Game of Thrones series can pay for NOW TV on a monthly basis, and turn it off again in a couple of months when the series is done, if they choose.  They can turn on or off Netflix likewise.  Car clubs are saving an urban millennial generation money - why bother with the considerable annual expense of owning and maintaining a car when you can hire one by the hour from the likes of Zipcar?  Or hire a much bigger car or van, if you're planning an IKEA weekend.  (Or just stick with Uber services, for that matter…)  All sorts of other disruptions are following - car insurance on-demand for example, or specific insurance only for one-off days or events (ie taking your vintage SLR 35mm film camera out for the day…).

The corollary in the business and IT sphere is "as a Service".  The past decade has seen a rapid acceleration in what we might term a levelling of the IT playing field, or a democratisation of the leading-edge.  It used to be that only the biggest, most successful firms could attract the best and brightest talent (and afford the capital) to build them the most innovative and ground-breaking applications and workloads. No longer.


Enter … XaaS

It started off with infrastructure-as-a-Service, progressed to Platform-as-a-Service, which in turn led to Software-as-a-Service. All of these -as-a-Services have opened the door to the ultimate service – one that captures everything. And I mean everything.  'Everything-as-a-service' means business capabilities, products, and processes are no longer set up and delivered as discreet, siloed 'vertical' offerings but as a collective of horizontal services accessed and leveraged across the whole organisation.

So just as you don't need to own a car to arrive at your big event in style or own your own beachfront property to enjoy a luxury weekend, you also don’t need to develop in-house capabilities that can help you provide digitised services to your customers.

Everything-as-a-Service (which goes by the slightly scary name 'XaaS') models allow businesses of all sizes to reap the benefits of technology giants' expertise all on an 'as and when you need it' basis.  Among the many advantages are knowing you're using the very best technology at any given time (with automatic updates / maintenance), not having to attract/develop/retain internal resource, and being able to deploy new features - and launch new products and services - much faster.  All of which, of course saves money: as you pay only for what you use, costs align fairly and directly to your business.

Timing is everything

Why is this impacting now?  It's to do with the ultimate convergence of the huge global megatrends of cloud, advanced analytics, enterprise mobility, and reliable cyber-security.  Cloud having reached maturity is inarguably the single biggest factor, but it's also (inevitably) important that companies have seen successful proven use cases from early-movers.

As with other technology trends, it's both an opportunity and a threat for FSI. On the one hand, XaaS allows big players in FSI to experiment and scale up and down as needed. It can significantly reduce the costs of IT operations, i.e. cost of ownership.  At the same time, this helps smaller, challenger banks compete with the titans of finance without having to, so to speak, break the bank.


The end of Capex and the beginning of so much more

CIOs and business leaders wanting to embrace an XaaS world but unsure quite how to put the right steps in order should bear one transformative thought in mind above all others: from an IT point of view, XaaS represents nothing less than the death of Capex.  Above that, there are two big questions that forward-thinking leaders should ask themselves and their Board…) - How can XaaS transform the way our staff work?  What new products and services can XaaS help us drive and deliver?  Chances are, these two questions will unlock the floodgates of a wave of possibility. And speed is key- being able to deploy now, and scale quickly means that new projects, new businesses can take off quickly without waiting for IT to catch up.

While the Opex imperative can be a notable driver for XaaS, the real transformative benefit, as HPE can attest from seeing it in action in the real-world, isn't really about accounting or operational processes, but is the fundamental change to how your business thinks.  Without meaning to sound too breathless about it all, it's revitalising, inspiring and a huge blast of fresh air.

But one thing I do want to get on the table is that XaaS isn't just another story about the unstoppable rise of the cloud.  XaaS does not necessarily mean moving all to the cloud.   Due to the need to control security, data placement, performance, privacy, each IT workload has a place to run that suits it best – using a cloud service, using on premises technology, or both.  It's important to find the right mix for your company, in order to reach your objectives.  And to companies that may say “Well I can’t get XaaS in my data center…” I would answer that, in fact, you can.  What drives my personal confidence here is the fact that HPE's Chairman announced in June that HPE will be able to deliver all that we have as a Service by 2022.


Everything … explained

In fact it's no overstatement to say that knowing how to implement XaaS internally and externally is going to be the game-changer for FSIs companies of all sizes and levels of maturity.  Myself and other experts from HPE will be discussing XaaS (and other things) and sharing real-world examples of how we've helped FSI companies leverage this innovation at the Sibos event in London in September at Booth Z141.  If you're going, you're extremely welcome to drop by the HPE stand; we'd love to see you.

I started this article thinking about the consumer angle, and it's worth remembering the 'mutually-reinforcing feedback loop' nature of all this: just as the XaaS model is affecting FSI internally, i.e. changing their existing technology landscape, it’s also changing customer expectations. What modern customers expect from their financial institutions is resembling more the Uber and AirBnB model than the banking for life model of yesteryear. 

What customers today want above all is to remove the friction between them and the businesses and services they use, to have everything as smooth, seamless and intuitively connected as possible.  Which sounds like a great goal for all of us …





Guest Author
Gerry Nolan, HPE Pointnext Services

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Financial Services, Emerging technologies, Blockchain, AI, Swarm Learning