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Growth, scalability, and innovation have been the calling cards of technology since the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company changed its name to IBM in 1924. Technology has certainly come a long way since the days of punch cards. High–growth companies seeking a technological advantage today are looking to the cloud. And not just any cloud, but true cloud, which hinges on several key elements: Multi-tenancy, elastic infrastructure, high configurability, self-service expansion, and integration APIs. 

Not everyone in the industry agrees on what exactly true cloud is, and why it would even be important. Even the definitions of these true cloud elements are often misunderstood. Let’s create some clarity.  

Firstly, let’s look at the difference between growth and scalability. 

Growth is the increase of mission-specific results within an organisation. For businesses, this could be an increase in revenue, customers, or profits. In a non-profit organisation, this could mean more beneficiaries helped, monies collected and distributed, trees planted, etc. 

Scalability, while tied to growth, refers to an organisation’s ability to handle growth without a proportional increase in resources. For instance, can you handle twice as many customer invoices without adding twice as many accounts–receivable clerks? Or can you report across three times more locations without adding finance staff? 

Grow with true cloud 

Growth brings more than just more business. It also brings more complex transactions. It often calls for processes to manage larger quantities of things. For example, double the number of sales orders means double the number of sales quotes, shippers, and sales invoices – and this will also mean an increase in the number of returns. It also means categorising and subdividing information, so people can still get their heads around it. In data terms, even geometric growth in revenue can lead to exponential growth in data just due to the complexities of growth. 

A multi-tenant cloud system, with its near-infinite capacity for processing and storage, supports this kind of growth. As a result of thousands of companies sharing resources on a multi-tenant or true cloud, the system is built to handle unexpected spikes, with constant monitoring to maintain overall capacity three to four times greater than daily usage. A multi-tenant system is much like a massive reservoir, with a dam that is always raised to stay multiple times higher than the current water level. Even if the highest growth companies doubled overnight, the impact would hardly be noticed, since the aggregate of all companies is growing at a predictable rate. 

A single tenant system (individual deployment), on the other hand, can’t handle rapid growth as engineers cannot monitor the whole system in aggregate. Rather than a single reservoir, a single tenant system is like storing rainwater in thousands of separate buckets. As each bucket fills up, it needs to be replaced with a bigger bucket, requiring lots of bucket engineers and possible spills during busy times. 

By its very nature, a true cloud system invites clients to grow with confidence. 

Scale with true cloud 

Scaling with growth comes down to automating – automating how data gets in and out of the system and automating data-driven decisions and tasks. In true cloud, with thousands of clients working off the same code base, systems have to account for thousands of individual differences. APIs (application programming interfaces) allow for individual data exchanges with external systems such as CRMs or payroll providers. They make it possible for clients to connect to their other services while setting rules around how those connections send and receive data. 

True cloud also offers ways for clients to set their own policies and rules within the system, without expensive upgrades – even if the main applications are updated.  

Innovate with true cloud 

The sheer processing power of true cloud expands the possibilities for innovation. The architecture of a true cloud system allows developers to innovate and solve large data issues that simply cannot be done within the limits of single-server solutions. True cloud is also where AI will come of age – because intelligent applications that learn from past actions will have billions of transactions to teach them. 

This innovation isn’t only available on some mammoth super–computer. With true cloud, deployment becomes a matter of course for all clients on the same application base. Every client has access to this incredible innovation, and with so many clients to look after, true cloud providers are heavily invested in staying ahead of the game in terms of regulations and technology. This means true cloud providers become the vanguard for each new wave of solutions tackling tomorrow’s problems. 

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