Cloud Services, Automation, advanced analytics, testing and development, on-demand infrastructure, DevOps, mobility services, Lab-as-a-Service

Lab as a Service: An Emerging Horizon of Possibilities

A comparative study of global brands from 2008 to 2018 provides an insight into the innate power of digital technologies. All of them have utilized digital technologies to impact the way we produce, acquire, communicate, and consume. In the 1990s, brands spent $5 million to launch a product that reached only 30 million users. Companies invested on high-end infrastructure and consultants to churn out code, create databases, and drive centers of excellence. R&D was a luxury that could be afforded only by the elite few.

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The Digital-First Change

The digital-first economy has upended the entire R&D process. Uber, the largest Mobility Company, does not even own a car, while AirBnB, the hospitality provider, does not own a hotel. Several start-ups are mushrooming in co-working spaces, sharing infrastructure. Today, you can launch a product and reach 1 billion users under $1 million. All you need is an idea.

Entrepreneurs can rely on web services for server infrastructure, machine learning libraries, marketing software and data analytics intelligence to effectively package and pursue innovation with minimal investment and risk.

Digital infrastructure platforms like Amazon Web Services or Google Prediction API started out as cost centers, but are emerging as major revenue centers. Decision makers are now thinking of how to enable risk-free digitization of processes and innovation cycles without investing on expensive infrastructure. The answer is Lab-as-a-Service, the next-generation standardized environment that brings together infrastructure, expertise, and services to tackle disruptions.

The Lab Challenge

The current innovation eco-systems are costly, complex, and chaotic. Most of them are centrally controlled physical structures that can be accessed through tickets. The lack of web or mobile access creates a dichotomy in the digital-first environments. This makes it difficult to scale beyond certain number of users and groups, putting self-imposed limits for testing, development, and process digitization.

Another major challenge is resource hoarding and duplication. Physical resources can be monopolized, which can be extremely prohibitive in effectively scheduling resource uses within select teams of innovators. All applications, networks, test tools, and equipment need to be configured, integrated, and managed, resulting in accrued costs. Reliance on manual processes and infrastructure corpulence makes businesses lose nimbleness to respond to market innovation. Agility can be improved by bringing the core benefits of cloud (multi-tenancy, automation, self-service capabilities, and scalability) to optimize costs and efficiencies.

A US-based networking company had a siloed ecosystem that saw rising ticket volume, SLA defaults, low CSAT scores, and network outages. The solution worked on a predictive support governance model through an AI analytics dashboard. It used machine learning and text mining to create an early warning system to deliver pre-emptive support and immediate resolution. This led to 100% automation of ticket management and 35% increase in resolution time. The transformative solution was incubated in a remote lab-location with intensive collaboration between the client and engagement partners.

Lab-as-a-Service: The ‘X’ Factor

Your business labs can become the center of innovation by integrating workflows with on-demand, multi-device access, automation, and in-built security.

Some of the immediate gains include:

  • Flexible remote infrastructure: Businesses can set up labs of their choice by optimizing the given infrastructure. This has built-in scalability and resilience that enables owners to effectively innovate, test ideas and scale up. Businesses can experiment and innovate to launch solutions faster and meet market challenges.
  • Easy, risk free access: Every lab infrastructure can be securely accessed with a registration and security code. Enterprise IT service providers, like CSS Corp, are providing Dev/Test labs that help multiple users 24/7, secure access to virtual machines, manage data sets, and set up re-usable code. This helps to optimally use infrastructure without compromising on privacy, compliance, and access risks.
  • CAPEX and OPEX savings: Most of the IT infrastructure exists in silos and is underutilized or inaccessible to users. Businesses are looking for an on-demand infrastructure with self-service capabilities to ensure anytime, anywhere ingress. For example, a Lab-as-a-service enabled operation brings down complexities by consolidation of multiple tools into a large cloud facility with significant CAPEX and OPEX savings.
  • Integration of workflows: Organizations can integrate labs with their existing web portals, enterprise systems, and workflows. Monopolization of resources is avoided, and they are available on demand and can be scheduled optimally across teams.
  • Flexible environments: Create and re-use standardized environments for development and testing processes. These environments can support any infrastructure, physical or cloud, along with diverse configurations, tools, and APIs. All you need is to design and standardize the blueprint and tweak it as per your requirements.

Lab-as-a-service focuses not only on infrastructure; it provides a complete service including expertise and human capital. Teams can work together in remote, multi-tenant lab environments to innovate and test products. This form of service also provides a ready, scalable, resilient, and secure environment to execute your vision.

Nishikant Nigam

EVP & Chief Delivery Officer, CSS Corp

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