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Accelerate towards cloud-native through convergence of trust, domain and AIOPs capabilities

Learn from the journey of Coforge's client

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 tool set 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 it’s 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 out comes 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 than20%. 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 costfocus, 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

  • Running a data center for business continuity was expensive, and adding capacity would cost a lot.
  • Intertwined with that, the client organization pursued a real estate consolidation; it wanted to exit the data center business.
  • Data scientists running complex quantitative models were running out of computing power.

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

  • Rightsizing workstreams;
  • Looking for alternative approaches to leveraging storage;
  • Introducing life-cycle management;
  • Shutting down non-production development environments.

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:

  • More than 800 enterprise systems, 700 TB of databases, and 250 applications and services were migrated to the cloud.
  • In the first year, system servers required nearly15% less overhead in servers, resulting in approximately 15% in cost savings.
  • A 20% reduction in database servers led to approximatelya20% cost savings.
  • The shift to infrastructure-as-code led to 30% faster release cycles.

Lessons learned

Looking back on the migration, the client provided some valuable reflections that might help other organizations considering similar strategic moves:

  • Focus on one hyperscaler and just run: As you develop these new skill sets, you still need to have old skill sets, too. So, if you drag this journey on for a very long time, you potentially double your operational costs.
  • Focus on cost analysis: Storage can get expensive when you move quickly, set up a cost-management dashboard.
  • Get the security team engaged quickly: How do you move up the maturity model from 1 to 10? Put in appropriate security controls—not all bells and whistles.
  • It is an ongoing change effort rather than a big shift: Moving to PaaS(platform-as-a-service), automated release management, and similar activities requires a cultural change.

The client was equally clear that it organization hadn’t yet leveraged all of the AIOPs platform’s capabilitiesNext on its journey are deeper evaluations around auto-provisioning, serverless operations, containerization, and self-healing capabilitiesInnovation 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 capabilitiesTrust in the service provider—Coforge, in this case—is critical when an organization embarks on a journey that it can’t fully envisionTherefore, 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 systemsFor this Coforge’s client, this journey has just begun, but so far, it has been highly successful.

HFS Research author

Tom Reuner is Senior Vice President, IT Services at HFS. Tom is responsible for driving the HFS research agenda for IT Services including the change agents of Intelligent Automation and AI. A central theme of his research is the increasing link between technological evolution and evolution in the delivery of business processes. In particular, he will focus on the Future of Work and the testing of innovation.

Prior to HFS, Tom worked as Head of Strategy at Arago. His deep understanding of the market dynamics comes from having held senior positions at analyst firms including Gartner, IDC and Ovum where his responsibilities ranged from research and consulting to business development.

Tom has a PhD in History from the University of Göttingen in Germany. He lives in London with his wife and in his spare time he works on improving his culinary skills to distract him from the straining experience of being a Spurs supporter.

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