Bringing small businesses closer to the cloud

Pablo Jejcic, Vodafone’s Head of Cloud and Infrastructure Centre of Excellence reveals why the cloud revolution has barely begun for small businesses.

The global cloud market is estimated to be worth £185 billion. So, if you haven’t got your head in the cloud, it’s time to reap the benefits of this tech-boom and evolve your IT infrastructure.

By tapping into the cloud, you have the ability to access technology capabilities that were previously out of reach and generally reserved for your larger competitors. Store, compute, access and share files anytime, anywhere and using any device.

However, it’s important to recognise that the cloud is more than just your storage or compute facility – it’s the solution to your IT infrastructure problems and the enabler of your business goals. By creating a more agile working environment, it allows you to achieve these goals quicker than ever before and grow beyond your imagination.

We spoke with Pablo Jejcic, Head of Cloud and Infrastructure Centre of Excellence at Vodafone to prove cloud technology is a game-changer for small businesses.

What are some of the most exciting tech infrastructure projects that you have worked in recently?

Today, people are worrying less about a specific server or infrastructure compilation, and concentrating more on the business outcome they want to achieve. A pharmaceutical company in Germany moved all their pharmaceutical research from onsite to a cloud model refactoring their team, culture and approach to infrastructure. In the past, every time they tested a new drug, they would design, build and trial a new infrastructure, which took around five years. Using infrastructure as code in a cloud computing environment, they reduced this time to a year and a half. They removed the idea of creating a physical infrastructure and, instead, reused the building blocks that existed in their cloud to speed up their business capabilities.

What are the biggest infrastructure investments you see happening in 2018 and how will they affect businesses?

There are three levels, one being the hyper-scalers like, Amazon and Google. They are underpinned by a heavy investment on self development and tend to build their cloud solutions on premise and sell to others. In addition to them, organisations like Netflix don’t use a singlecloud implementation. They go through several public cloud services and use a very strong abstraction model (leveraging, for example, container management solutions) to suit their business needs.

With big enterprises, we’re seeing a change on focus onto delivering their own software solutions and a push into building most of their internal cloud capabilities. They’re usually five-six years behind the hyper-scalers from a formation level, and the level of delivery they can achieve.

At the third level, from an individual to an SME, we’re seeing a huge focus on working with open API’s and reusing as many building blocks within the cloud as possible, building the true value of a ecosystem economy.

What are the biggest benefits of agile working and what lessons would you recommend to small business owners?

I like to use the analogy of running hurdles. When you adopt an agile way of working, those hurdles are removed. Instead, you work as a team, running towards the same destination. You can’t implement agile everywhere in your business. You need to identify the areas where your business is flexible and where you’re improving your products at a fast pace. Also, ensuring your team members make changes quickly, without needing to change the infrastructure or build a new physical server is very important.

What are the biggest benefits of cloud technology and what would you recommend to small business owners who aren’t using it already?

One, think of as many ready-made solutions available in the market and reuse as many of them as you can – there will always be somebody building something, somewhere.

Two, once you have something out in the market, if you’re using cloud technology, you have the possibility of increasing the speed of your delivery because you don’t need to reinvent the infrastructure.

And finally, there’s an economical value to cloud technology. If you go back ten/fifteen years, a company had to buy a server, a mark-up system, the connectivity and hire an army of sysadmins, etc. – all that, before they were even able to provide a web service. Today, it’s so much easier to implement an existing product into your business, and for a tenth of the cost.

What are some of the innovations in cloud technology that you see on the horizon that will improve the ways businesses work?

Today, you have companies building a particular product and a surrounding set of companies attempting to link to that product using an open API. An example of this is in the area of the Internet of Things (IoT). The sport industry, for instance, is putting sensors in tennis rackets and building health tools to connect to these sensors. Companies are also providing services for training, managing the tension of the racket and checking how a tennis player uses it to advice and improve their skills. Every company, small or large, should be focusing on what ecosystem they want to build or want to exploit.

Many businesses are now globally connected. Can you share some of your experiences of working across borders and cultures through technology?

For the past twelve years, I’ve always had some involvement in international activities. If you go back, it was challenging to connect globally because you had to build everything yourself, with very little mobile and video capabilities. Nowadays, thanks to technology, there’s nothing stopping you from working in any location or with any culture. Technology has eliminated the majority of restrictions associated with global working – besides time differences. It has also improved diversity. Working internationally with tech means there isn’t a single-mind focus, but different backgrounds and different perspectives. Together, they have the ability to drive a business’ flexibility and dynamism.

Cloud services are just one of the many technologies transforming the workplace and enabling agile working. To discover more, read our article ‘Six ways to immediately make your business more agile’.