Richard Bennett, Head of Industry Solutions & Strategy, VMware EMEA, explains how smart multi-cloud and intelligent networks have become an industry game-changer.
We are living in a world that is increasingly shaped by the endless potential of cloud. Whether we realise it or not, multiple clouds, like public, telco, private and edge, are facilitating some of the most progressive innovations that are breaking through in areas as far reaching as financial services, automotive, fashion and healthcare.
In working seamlessly together, these clouds are tackling one of the greatest modern business challenges; how best to manage, store and deliver the right data at the right time to provision the best possible outcome or experience.
According to Statista and IDC, the world will regularly consume 149 zettabytes of data by 2024, an astronomical figure considering one zettabyte is equal to one trillion gigabytes. It’s a figure partly driven by the fact that analysing good data to create context relevant information, is seen as the silver bullet. Information is something which enables organisations to differentiate themselves in their markets, move with crucial business agility and be better aligned to customer demands.
Here are four examples I believe best illustrate what this all looks like in the real world. How does a multi-cloud strategy, where apps and data can move freely and securely across multiple centrally managed clouds, repeatedly prove itself to be complete game-changer?
1. Transforming in-car connectivity with Mercedes
As we look towards more sustainable transport options, the electric vehicle market is soaring – and with it the influence of cloud computing. Statista estimates show that by 2027, electric vehicle revenue will grow 17%, while figures from industry association ACEA show that vehicle sales broke new records in Europe in 2022. Competition is set to be rife amongst manufacturers, but a multi-cloud strategy is helping industry giants like Mercedes to stay at the edge of innovation and deliver new driving experiences.
The automotive maker is combining different clouds and networks as it builds its own in-car operating system (OS) to enrich driver and passenger connectivity. Running on this platform, the resiliency and low-latency of edge clouds and telco networks will allow operators of self-driving vehicles to take Zoom meetings, and even participate in rich collaboration with other users while on the move.
Through the scalable nature of public networks such as 5G, passengers can easily benefit from enhanced ICE (in-car entertainment) while stationary, streaming video and movies, playing online games and watching TV shows with no latency, buffering or pixelation. Mercedes’ commitment to this platform includes an Android container, allowing secure third-party access to collaborate and develop specific applications for the car. It’s a transformative approach to how data will shape the in-car experience, and is no doubt be a blueprint that other manufacturers follow.
2. Accelerating innovation in digital fashion
As fashion constantly evolves and brands introduce new styles, technology is playing a central role in supporting retailers to connect with consumers and offer new experiences. Augmented reality, for instance, provides personalised shopping in the comfort of your own home, while chatbots and in-store touchscreens are improving customer relations and offering customised product suggestions, or even in the case of adidas, putting design and manufacture of custom products into the hands of eager shoppers.
This customer experience is even extended to the Metaverse and Web3. Valentino, for example, has announced a collaboration with NFT marketplace UNXD to combine digital and physical fashion. While Decentraland, a leading Metaverse platform, has just hosted its second annual Metaverse Fashion Week. Imagine being sat on your sofa at home, in the same virtual room as some of the world’s leading fashion designers, watching brands release their new lines – that’s where the industry is heading.
However, the future of digital-first fashion requires high-street brands or the likes of Gucci or Tommy Hilfiger to have applications and workloads in the right cloud for the best possible digital experience. A successful augmented reality offering, for instance, will require the support of multiple clouds, especially 5G edge, ensuring that brands can support customers who will connect and access content at scale over the public 5G network, such as beaming virtual fitting rooms to remote consumer devices.
Similarly, hosting a fashion week in the Metaverse requires extensive network and data capacity, which will require scalable public telco networks, as firms need to combine private and edge clouds for secure, reliable, digital content in end-devices, like a virtual reality headset or lenses. All this needs to happen without user disruption, and that’s how a multi-cloud strategy will be crucial to the delivery of digital fashion for years to come.
3. Facilitating the rise of challenger banks
Chances are that you either bank with or know someone that banks with a challenger bank such as Chase, N26, Monzo and Starling Bank – those that are transforming the delivery of financial services. The consumer focus on mobile banking and digital-first experiences has seen these banks capture a market that is increasingly frustrated with the legacy technology limitations of high street banks. So much so that in 2022, this global market was estimated at $66 billion, and is now expected to grow by almost a third to $96 billion by the end of the year.
The UK’s Starling Bank has trailblazed the use of multiple clouds to harness the vast scale of compute that is needed to take a data-centric approach to financial services delivery and champion customer experience. With the availability of vast quantities of anonymised data in public clouds, it has used AI to simplify otherwise complex customer trends and behaviours, moving quickly to predict demand or address issues – a key differentiator from high street competitors. This approach has produced new platform upgrades like instant savings spaces, virtual cards or multi-currency payments.
Beyond speed, the bank has delivered better, more accurate insights into payments. Supported by edge networks, it offers merchant identification and real-time location information, so customers can easily find out who they have paid, when and where, alleviating fears of fraud. This relentless focus on customer experience, aided by cloud computing, has supported Starling’s growth and industry influence. It is now the first challenger bank to post a profit, and has fundamentally changed the industry landscape – as many as 43 challenger banks were created in 2022 according to data released by Finbold.
4. Improving healthcare provision
The world continues to witness first-hand how technology is driving healthcare provision. Cloud computing, for instance, has been at the heart of the test, trial and implementation process of vaccination programmes. It has allowed pharma companies to store confidential patient data at scale, across both public and private networks, and rapidly analyse the results before making iterations to the development process.
But at a more granular level, multi-cloud strategies are driving tangible healthcare progress boosting the effectiveness of individual treatments and patient experiences. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, the Ministry of Health is running multiple clouds in tandem, to support its thousands of hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies. It has switched from labour intensive, energy-hungry servers and moved its IT operations into different clouds, so workloads can be moved instantly between providers, while giving the Ministry’s IT team visibility of, and ability to manage the workloads from a single pane of glass.
On the ground, this means that doctors, nurses, and patients have reliable and secure access to records wherever they are, and all healthcare professionals (including hospital managers and operators), have improved access to the data they need, without worrying about potentially disruptive IT outages. This all translates into better use of resources and improved services for healthcare workers and patients, and a healthcare services.
Ultimately, rapid application development, powered by evolving public and private 5G networks, and delivered through multi-cloud methodology, demonstrates technology acting in concert to meet these types of business use cases. This is how a variety of industries can test the limits of what’s possible with innovative new products, services and experiences.
These are beyond theory too. Use-cases in fashion, transport, healthcare and financial services show only a few of the vast benefits which running multiple clouds, and allowing applications to seamlessly move and migrate, can have. As industries continue to rely heavily upon infinite connectivity to power their transformation, brands and businesses are discovering how it can accelerate data insights, time-to-market and treatments, while aligning themselves to customer demands and innovation in their focused markets.