Not All Clouds are Created Equal

When it comes to cloud-enabled versus cloud-native, it’s easy to be fooled, but there are significant differences between the two.

Choose cloud-native and you’ll enjoy a raft of benefits that will enable you to provide a omnichannel, hyperpersonalised service to your customers, be more nimble and ultimately more profitable. Opt for cloud-enabled and you’ll be saddled with a square peg often crudely adapted for a round hole, never fully able to harness the potential of the cloud and compete in a omnichannel retail world. Cloud-native and cloudenabled – what’s the difference? Cloud-native systems are created specifically for the web and are designed to enable a long list of webcentric benefits such as elastic scaling, run-anywhere functionality, easy integration, single view of the truth and seamless administration.

Elastic scaling, for example, has massive potential for the inherently seasonal nature of retailing. Why maintain expensive excess server capacity all year long when you only need it for the Black Monday sales period for example?

Cloud-native’s ability to give a single unified view of systems such as point of sale, clienteling and fulfilment empower teams across the board to leverage data and hyper-personalise brand engagement to drive a unique consumer experience across channels.

Cloud-enabled systems, however, are initially designed for deployment in traditional data centres, with some of their characteristics adapted to enable cloud use with the software encased in an IP wrapper. When compared to first-rate cloud-native solutions, however, they are little better than lipstick on a pig.

In today’s omnichannel retail world, companies are struggling to keep up with fast-changing customer behaviour, supply networks, fulfilment approaches and business processes. To meet customers’ expectations, successful companies need to experiment and adopt new technologies quickly and regularly. They also need to implement new systems and upgrades faster, and in a more streamlined way. Departments within organisations also need to work closer together than ever before to deliver an outstanding customer experience.

Continuously updated and seamlessly interconnected, cloud-native technology is arguably the best tool currently available to meet the challenges presented by modern omnichannel retail. Is the future cloud-only? Other industries have already woken up to the potential of cloud-native solutions.

In fact, Forrester predicts that by the end of 2018 more than half of global enterprises will rely on at least one public cloud platform to drive digital transformation and delight customers.

Retailers that embrace change and migrate to the cloud, sooner rather than later, will enjoy a significant competitive advantage over their peers.

So, how can you quickly and effectively work with a vendor or supplier to find out if their solution is fully functional cloud-native? Here are three questions to help you cut to the chase.

How to spot a genuine cloud-native product Monolith or microservice?

Compared to traditional monolithic IT solutions, hosted in a data centre, cloud-native solutions are based on microservices. These small, mostly autonomous components each perform a very specific function, such as order capture, and inventory and customer look up. A cloud-native application will be made from many microservices joined by a common fabric. When it comes to cloud-enabled versus cloud-native, it’s easy to be fooled, but there are significant differences between the two.

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