Using a few examples, here we will see how the Cloud, especially run by Microsoft Azure, is more than a simple virtualization solution (even though still a productive tool for IT Managers and professions).
Through changing its status progressively, the Cloud is no longer just a means to an end, or simply a means. Another new way of looking at the Cloud, would be as a shot of innovation to the system.
As we know, using the Cloud has become a necessary part of digital transformation. Using virtualization technologies and relying on the new Infrastructures as a Platform, the Cloud makes it possible for IT Managers to assist different professions with the new uses of digital tools, with flexibility and transparency.
But that’s not all. The Cloud, supported particularly by the power and richness of certain cloud services such as those offered in Microsoft Azure, is an innovation facilitator. Until now, it has far too often been seen as an end goal, where users have felt that they have to use the Cloud because it’s the latest trend. Alternatively, it has simply been seen as a tool or set of tech services used to gain flexibility, using the Cloud to make savings. This is certainly a reductive approach.
The Cloud – making it easy to develop innovative services
It really goes deeper than that. Not only does the Cloud improve efficiency, speed up and make work easier, but it gives greater potential for change. It also makes way for completely new approaches and services thanks to new technologies and methodologies on offer. This is because it allows for very different approaches to those often used during the development and roll-out of apps, such as fail safe, quick fail or successful failure, all which make it possible to try and learn from failure but quickly, with fewer cost implications.
The Cloud is another way of saying ‘investment management’. It facilitates the development of innovative services with ‘pay as you go’ systems, making it possible to draw up new business models combining solutions with needs, and selling on data which could lead to quicker return on investments. Here we are referring to these same data that we previously didn’t know how to save and that we used to transform (aggregation for dashboards, for example), without considering the interest that it could generate.
Here are a few text book cases which highlight how the Cloud can boost innovation. Taking exploratory approaches can become an interesting possibility to guarantee success, when studies and analyses fail to meet deadlines.
Intelligent drug distribution with the Cloud
A system recently rolled out for pharmacies in Cloud Azure could radically change their way of operating. Here the stakes are high; the pharmacy is entering into the management era, where pharmacy chains need network management tools to ensure their powers of negotiation with regard to pharmaceutical laboratories. The pharmacist has to follow certain indicators to optimise the management of his/her pharmacy and maintain its profitability.
The Cloud enables a predictive analysis of their sales and therefore better stock management. It can also allow for better negotiations with suppliers. The innovation here goes even further, because the system will make it possible to detect epidemics in relation to drug sales. This wouldn’t be possible outside the Cloud, largely because of time scales and high costs which inhibit return on investment (ROI). For this, Azure ML (Machine Learning) is key.
Personalised health insurance with IoT in the Cloud
This is known as the baker’s cavity; a pathology linked to the health conditions recognised as a major issue for the profession. Between the ages of 18 and 25, bakers, pastry chefs and confectioners have 5 times more crowns than in any other independent profession. Moreover, between the ages of 36 and 40, these professionals are 7 times more likely to have dentures than those in other industries. This is due to the presence of flour or icing sugar suspended in the air in the factories and workshops. This is a problem which can lead to long and costly care pathways, not to mention a high accident rate.
A platform in the Cloud, using connected objects and sensors in the baker’s environment, could prevent cavities. The platform measures the air quality in real time and alerts the worker via their smartphone or connected watch about the risks he or she is exposed to and offers preventive steps to take, such as brushing teeth or taking a break from the environment. It will also calculate and predict the effects of the work environment.
In this case, the Cloud makes it possible to integrate mobility, Big Data, predictive analysis and safety measures.
Safer underground transport systems with improved accident prediction in PaaS
This is another area where the Cloud has been qualified as a real innovation booster – transport. Here we will focus on the work being carried out on the future subway system.
Objective: we are looking to analyse behaviours and better prevent incidents, as well as intelligent system monitoring. Our context? Firstly, offering job flexibility with the fast development of new functions by combining or reusing a specific set of services. Secondly, ensuring app decoupling because each application will work to its own rhythm, so long as it ensures compatibility with exchanged messages and provided services. Lastly, guaranteeing the potential to evolve through the structuring of services, isolating the rules of a profession and isolating data access.
The solution: open source technologies in PaaS Azure. PaaS, let’s remember, is a Cloud service consisting in providing a platform and an environment ready for developers. The person offering PaaS services is responsible for managing the infrastructure but also carrying out application services. It has therefore been made possible to implement a platform which enables the easy, limitless growth of services which are linked to infrastructures and middleware. This can considerably reduce the risk of obsolescence by bringing a high amount of flexibility to the production of new industry services.
At the heart of the system, we have machine learning technologies for analysing behaviours and predicting events. In all these examples, thanks to the Cloud, a shot of innovation is brought to professional services via Microsoft Azure.