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The secular shift toward an accelerated adoption of cloud capabilities continues unabated. Yet, despite all the marketing noise around technology capabilities such as containerization and microservices, the journey toward cloud-native operations is more about culture, people, and processes than technologies. This shift in dynamics applies to organizations adopting cloud capabilities and thus needing to drive change and, in equal measure, to the process of identifying the right provider to support that journey. We discussed these issues with executives at Coforge and its client, a US-based financial services and insurance company.
Coforge leverages automation to deliver certainty on outcomes
Coforge responds to these shifting dynamics by driving clients’ engagements with two key initiatives. First, as Exhibit 1 outlines, it supports clients moving from being cloud-ready to becoming cloud-native by harnessing a domain-driven design. Its vertical focus centers on deep engagements in insurance, healthcare, BFS (banking and financial services), and travel. Domain-driven design decouples applications from their many rigid legacy system dependencies. Second, Coforge underpins client migrations with robust migration processes encompassing discovery and dependency mapping, detailed migration and cut-over plans aligned to T-schedules using its Cloud Innovation Factory, and its AIOPs platform, which helps drive all aspects of multi-cloud management and automation, including DevSecOps. Coforge advocates a convergence of traditional enterprise monitoring and management toolsets with cloud-native solutions and embedded automation to minimize false-positive signals.
Exhibit 1: Coforge’s strategy on cloud migration blends domain-driven design with expansive service management capabilities
Source: HFS Research 2020
The AIOPs platform is an evolution of the TRON platform. It is both a reference architecture and an integration of expansive IT Operations Management (ITOM) and ITSM capabilities. Coforge’s implementations show differentiation in that all the customizations and, consequently, the intellectual property (IP) will stay with the customer “for life.” For many of Coforge’s peers, the customization stays with the platform. Furthermore, the platform is estate and toolset agnostic, so it has general applicability across disparate workloads.
Executives at Coforge provided more color on their thought processes. In their view, two key issues balance the marketing noise from the hyperscalers about standard toolsets that are meant to be important for migration at scale. First, Coforge understands what is relevant from a business perspective and, therefore, the importance of a domain-driven design, which is where its expertise with full-suite implementation across industry verticals comes in handy. Second, Coforge drives a realistic engagement model because moving to the cloud alone doesn’t solve problems. Ongoing cloud economics—a combination of operational cost management and optimization around cloud capabilities—remains a huge issue. Thus, Coforge aims to bring certainty to outcomes with the efficiency of automation its AIOPs platform offers.
Coforge summarized their strategic thinking by pointing to their positioning of “engineering convergence”. By that they mean helping clients to reimagine how they buy, consume, and innovate enterprise services. This is of particular relevance in multi-cloud environments where security and reliability are facing new and expanded challenges. The company aims to achieve this by harnessing its analytics, automation, platform, hybrid cloud and AI OPS services to support clients on their journey toward cloud native.
AIOPs is built on ServiceNow and integrates with cloud-native and COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) tool stacks to provide an enterprise-wide approach to service management and service monitoring. It has pre-defined templates for more than 100 use cases and best practices already pre-configured. Terraform provides infrastructure provisioning, and Ansible provides configuration management. Additional capabilities include robotic process automation (RPA) assets and chatbots. Coforge is accelerating the adoption journey of cloud deployments by blending those service management and automation capabilities with the concept of “site reliability engineering” and a cloud innovation factory that contains a broad array of pre-designed assets (for details, see Exhibit 1). You can see this approach’s effectiveness in the example of an international client, where AIOPs reduced false positive alerts by more than 70% and increased automated resolutions by more than 20%. By talking to the Head of Technology Management (referred as ‘the client’) at US-based financial services and insurance company (referred as ‘the client organization’), we learned more about the journey of moving toward cloud-native operations.
The journey toward cloud-native operations starts with a cost focus, but it must not end with it
The client typified a midsized financial services organization with IT systems that had evolved over many years; it needed to begin its journey toward the cloud. The client described its relationship with Coforge, which led to its decision to have Coforge manage the cloud migration. The relationship changed from Coforge being an implementation partner that was reactively taking on requirements, largely around Level 1 activities, to becoming part of the team. Coforge brought thought leadership to the table and helped shape the future. It evolved to being part of the client organization ecosystem with a detailed knowledge of how the business operated. Sometimes the Coforge team noticed challenges that the client and his team didn’t see. The relationship is probably best summed up that the client organization, after signing the statement of work (SOW), not once looked anything up in the contract in order to discuss commercial ramifications with Coforge.
“The average tenure of the Coforge offshore teams is seven years! Thus, they are literally part of the family.”
Head of Technology Management, US-based financial services and insurance company
The client organization based its decision to work with Coforge instead of two other more consulting-oriented providers largely on trust rather than specific technical capabilities. As the client put it: “The average tenure of the Coforge offshore teams is seven years! Thus, they are literally part of the family.” He was equally succinct as to why trust is so important to him. “How do you write an SOW about things you don’t know yet about? But we never discussed the scope; it really has been a team effort.”
The journey began in June 2018. At the same time the SOW was signed, the client organization made significant investments in Microsoft Azure capabilities. For the client, this was a logical step, as he described his organization as a “Microsoft shop.” The business objectives included
The basic lift and shift took six months, and work was centered largely around technical capabilities with some limited change management. Customer satisfaction was high; The client summarized, “We were sending Coforge 600 terabytes of data over six months—zero downtime, no outages.”
To accelerate the journey to the cloud, organizations need to double-down on governance capabilities
Despite its progress, the client organization realized that data assets were all over the place; it switched its approach to “cloud-only, all-in,” as the client put it. “That got us out of the data center, and we kept the quant guys happy, but we ended up realizing we were spending too much money now. If time was on our side, we probably would have optimized more on our journey and saved this way.”
“We were sending Coforge 600 terabytes of data over six months—zero downtime,”
Head of Technology Management, US-based financial services and insurance company
For the eight months following the project, the team jointly evaluated ways to optimize spending, including
These steps led to a nearly 50% reduction in operating costs. Yet, the client understood that costs were only one facet of the strategy. Having done the foundational work, the partnership was prepared for events like an acquisition that required onboarding and rebuilding an acquired organization with an Azure machine learning environment in just three weeks—including all data transfer and model migration. The migration provided operational flexibility that was almost inconceivable in a legacy environment.
Coforge executives provided additional insights into the migration’s scope and metrics:
Looking back on the migration, the client provided some valuable reflections that might help other organizations considering similar strategic moves:
The client was equally clear that it organization hadn’t yet leveraged all of the AIOPs platform’s capabilities. Next on its journey are deeper evaluations around auto-provisioning, serverless operations, containerization, and self-healing capabilities. Innovation and value-capture will come ever more to the fore.
The Bottom Line: Not dragging clients into commercial discussions on scope provides the trust to succeed with the journey toward cloud (and innovation at large).
US-based financial services and insurance company’s experiences provide a refreshing balance to the marketing noise that tends to overemphasize innovation and, in particular, features and capabilities. Trust in the service provider—Coforge, in this case—is critical when an organization embarks on a journey that it can’t fully envision. Therefore, providing a seamless transition while not dragging your clients into commercially driven discussions on SOW details is a best practice for embarking on the journey to achieving cloud-native systems. For this Coforge’s client, this journey has just begun, but so far, it has been highly successful.