Building the right solution for your business in the cloud

From collaborating to rolling out new applications, cloud allows businesses to do more without building complex on-premise infrastructure

Brian Flynn, chief technology officer, Ardanis: ‘Really the biggest thing that has happened in cloud in the past year is AI’

If business is about getting things done, then cloud is now largely the place where it is done. Brian Flynn, chief technology officer at technology consultancy and developer Ardanis, said that cloud was having a significant effect on enterprise IT across the board.

Collaboration is one of the first areas where most businesses deploy cloud.

“Organisations, and users in an organisation, really are using cloud technologies in their everyday work,” he said.

“There are a lot of options out there. In our experience, we use Google Docs, which allows for cloud-based documents, spreadsheets and presentations, allowing users to collaborate in real time, but there are some other interesting technologies,” he said.


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Why it is in the news: As companies grow, cloud adoption can allow them to expand with less friction

Indeed, cloud collaboration can now go far beyond office productivity tasks.

“There are other newer technologies such as Miro, which allows virtual whiteboarding and more complex functionality like brainstorming; and Figma, which is an online UX [user experience] and UI [user interface] design tool,” Flynn said.

“With remote working, they allow users to collaborate wherever they are. Another use case is asynchronous communication, which allows users to work on projects more easily.

“I can have a designer create a new design or ideate and have the product owner come in to look at it, adding comments interactively. You can have conversations around these things.”

In Ardanis’s own work, project collaboration tools go even deeper into the development process itself.

“One last area of tool we use as a software developer is Jira, which allows us to collaborate and see the development workflow of teams. Of course, one of the biggest is GitHub, which is huge and in terms of development is one of the biggest tools out there,” he said.

Intelligent cloud

Cloud, by its nature, is a changing thing. Whereas on-premise infrastructure remains largely fixed throughout its lifespan, one of the key advantages of cloud is the ability to iterate seamlessly. Nowhere can this be seen more clearly today than in the realm of artificial intelligence (AI), Flynn said.

“Really the biggest thing that has happened in cloud in the past year is AI,” he said.

There is a lot more to this than generating text. Companies can develop new and novel applications in the cloud that leverage large language model (LLM) AI technology.

“AI companies are now exposing their AIs via APIs [application programming interfaces]. Normal users see the chat interface, but developers can go in at the API level and develop,” Flynn said.

“What you have with the cloud services producers like Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS is people can spin-up private entrances of these LLMs. That has democratised AI as you don’t need to have training sessions; instead, you simply apply it to your data.”

While the excitement about AI is palpable, some scepticism is also abroad. Flynn said that this was natural, but that AI-enabled cloud could have a transformative impact.

“There is a lot of hype, but I think we’re going to see some really interesting applications developed,” he said.

Ultimately, he said, cloud delivered flexibility. All companies can begin with cloud by adopting software as a service (SaaS), then build out from there to other cloud services when it makes sense, either developing for the cloud with platform as a service (PaaS) or deploying on managed cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

“There is no point building something if a SaaS product is there already. We try to get people to look at their core intellectual property. With most of our clients, we would advise them to use PaaS as it is quicker to get to market,” he said.

Developing for IaaS or PaaS can have similar results, Flynn said, but with PaaS, things like autoscaling require significantly less effort.

“You need to ask: ‘What are my workloads? What suits them best? And which cloud provider do I use?’ Some may have better services around AI, for example,” he said.