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Industry clouds: A tailored solution for a connected digital ecosystem

Artículo 13 may. 2024 Tiempo de lectura: min
By: Santosh Baran

Today, businesses benefit from the proliferation of powerful software including broad-based operational tools and targeted single-purpose solutions. However, this can also cause a common problem as companies grow: IT sprawl.

Without strict controls and centralized organization of the tech stack, businesses tend to end up with too many solutions, including more apps than they can employ productively. Integration is often lacking, and data tends to move without a roadmap and be at least partially siloed. This disjointed arrangement can hinder critical reporting, operational efficiency or the bottom line and, in the worst cases, hamstring progress and profits.

Addressing a sprawling tech stack typically requires transitioning key processes to up-to-date, cloud-based, industry-standard solutions that are integrated into a single system. A proven way to achieve this is to use an industry cloud. This centralized IT ecosystem helps organizations quickly adopt a stable technology platform and build a consistent operating model at scale.

What is an industry cloud? 

An industry cloud, also known as a vertical cloud or sector-specific cloud, is a set of cloud computing solutions customized for a particular industry. Industry cloud solutions provide tools, applications and services tailored to the workflows and challenges of a specific sector.

One can customize a cloud for any industry. But crucially, an industry cloud is not an all-in solution. It is modular and composable so that companies can tailor usage and right-size costs. On a technical level, industry clouds tend to be comprised of four layers:

  • Layer 1: Infrastructure – The foundational layer of the industry cloud includes sector- and vendor-agnostic infrastructure-as-a-service technology components to manage availability and resilience of compute, storage and network resources, industry compliance, and data security. Edge and high-performance computing are built into this layer.
  • Layer 2: Platform – The second layer provides resources to build and manage industry-specific applications, including the business platform for workloads and associated services like Kubernetes clusters, database services, managed instance groups and serverless models. It also includes value-adds like customer data platforms, data-sharing standards, AI-ML platforms, data and analytics management, low-code developer environments, and support for open standards and API management.
  • Layer 3: Differentiated applications – The third layer in the industry cloud supports two main types of applications: core apps and industry-specific apps. Core apps may be customer resource management, enterprise resource management or financial accounting tools with industry-tailored KPIs and workflows. Industry-specific apps support sector value chain areas and fulfill operational requirements particular to the given sector.
  • Layer 4: Customization – This layer comprises customized functionalities for industry-specific enterprise needs. Unlike the previous three layers, the customization layer is tailored to the needs of an individual business. Examples of options in this layer are customized dashboards and workflows. 
Industry clouds bring the power of cloud computing to businesses of all types and sizes. These modular, customizable ecosystems offer an efficient and effective way for organizations to streamline their digital operations and tap cloud-native technology to enable growth and innovation.

The benefits of using an industry cloud

The overarching benefit of an industry cloud is to lower cloud adoption barriers. This helps businesses to expand their digital operations rapidly. Companies also can:

  • Enhance agility, flexibility and resilience – Industry-specific cloud deployment models and solutions help businesses quickly adapt to changing market conditions, consumer preferences and industry trends. Users can also more quickly recover from problems due to enhanced disaster resilience.
  • Adhere to industry best practices – An industry cloud enables process standardization and out-of-the-box, templatized automation for adopting industry best practices. Keeping pace with the industry helps companies remain competitive and innovate effectively.
  • Spark innovation – Increased efficiency in managing data and facilitating business workflows can help businesses accelerate innovation. They can build new applications and drive new sources of revenue by leveraging cloud-native tools. The process is likely to modernize the way leaders view their businesses.
  • Access analytics and insights  An industry cloud offers users advanced analytics and reporting capabilities that can help business leaders make informed decisions, identify growth opportunities and optimize competitive strategies.
  • Increase security and compliance – Advanced, industry-standard tools and processes can reduce compliance and regulatory risks. Functions designed to secure payment processing and GDPR compliance help companies safeguard sensitive information, maintain customer trust and comply with regulations.
An industry cloud can help a retailer integrate apps that help customize shopping experiences.

Industry cloud example: Retail

To illustrate why and how a company might use an industry cloud, let’s consider the example of a retail business seeking to streamline operations and grow sales.

The retailer can tap into a retail-industry cloud to get access to enterprise applications and retail-specific tools in a single platform. The retailer will be able to add apps and customizations, develop its own applications for customized hyperscaler solutions, and co-create with clients. Suppose the retailer uses a non-industry cloud offering. In that case, it will get an integrated ecosystem of core business apps but will have to source retail-specific solutions separately and find alternative solutions for customization.

With an industry cloud, the retailer can tap into a modern e-commerce solution, and with that in place, it can integrate apps like Vertex AI Search or Vision AI to create customized, engaging shopping experiences that help drive conversion and basket size on its site.

The cloud may include a range of other sector-specific tools and functions, such as biometric identification of customers, coordination of IoT devices, tools to monitor expiration dates and manage inventory, and more.

With access to so many industry-standard tools and applications in a single location, the retailer can integrate its operations and manage its data, innovate and grow its business, and pivot based on market shifts, all by way of a single vendor relationship. 

The future of cloud for business

Industry clouds bring the power of cloud computing to businesses of all types and sizes. These modular, customizable ecosystems offer an efficient and effective way for organizations to streamline their digital operations and tap cloud-native technology to enable growth and innovation.

Moving to the cloud is a choice few companies can put off for much longer, and an industry cloud can be the accessible gateway they need.   

Santosh Baran is global portfolio lead for public cloud at Kyndryl.