The 5 Most Commonly Asked Questions About Cloud Solutions

We believe there are many reasons to migrate your organisation’s applications to the cloud, not least of which are cost savings, streamlined operations, redeployment of resources, reskilling of your internal teams and talent retention.  

In this blog, I answer the five most common questions I get asked about moving applications to the cloud, so you can make an informed decision about whether it’s the right thing for your organisation.  

1. Is it secure and where is my data? 

“Is it secure?”  is one of the most commonly asked questions about the cloud. But as the cloud has become universal in organisations, the nature of the question has changed. 

Every year, major cloud providers like Amazon and Microsoft spend billions to make their cloud services stable, robust and secure. Security measures and compliance certifications are available for all to see, and Microsoft’s cloud offering is as secure as it gets in terms of compliance, governance and physical security.  

The result? Today, almost everyone accepts that the cloud is secure. The conversation now is less around how secure it is and more around data control. It’s essential that organisations understand where their data lives, where it may go and who can access it in order to feel comfortable with moving to the cloud. 

A lack of understanding around how the cloud works is a barrier to adoption for many organisations. In the UK, law firms are amongst some of the most cautious adopters of cloud solutions, largely because of questions about where confidential client data will reside and who can access it.  

There needs to be an understanding that, by its very nature, the cloud exists in multiple locations – and your data can too. Azure, for example, for resilience can have multiple copies of data in multiple locations. And this conversation isn’t always an IT-led discussion; it needs the business to decide in which country their data should be reside, and whether they are comfortable with it potentially leaving UK soil. The cloud gives customers choice here, different services having different options about where data is stored, but it’s important that well informed decisions are made in this regard. 

Organisations need to know what they are letting themselves in for and understand how data will be stored and accessed which needs a complex, but not impossible, discussion about trust and understanding. In our experience, anyone who truly understands the options and how the cloud works has been confident in making an informed decision based on facts not fear.  

2.  Will all my IT staff be out of work/redundant? 

Generally, there isn’t a direct correlation between adopting cloud services and IT staff being let go.  We prefer to see this as freeing up IT staff to focus on more strategic tasks. 

Whether they’re in retail, manufacturing, healthcare or any other sector, businesses are trying to be ‘the best’ and provide the best service to their customers. IT should enable them to do that. It should be a supporter and enabler for a business to do its job and operate at its highest level. And for organisations that are held back by inefficient, outdated IT systems, embracing the cloud is one way to make improvements. 

Few organisations today choose to use physical servers; they are costly, require office space and need people to maintain and manage them. Solutions like O365 and Exchange Online are making delivery of common IT services easier, better and lower cost, and like it or not, the requirement for on-premise skills will reduce as cloud adoption becomes the new norm. As IT evolves, the skillset of IT teams needs to evolve with it, or face being left behind.  – Read more

Considering Hybrid Cloud? Focus on the Why

So much of business—and life in general—comes down to semantics. We articulate goals and measure success using a variety of terms. Some serve to clarify; others confuse. Consider the term “hybrid cloud”—a Google search yields 5.96 million results. So, yes, hybrid cloud is a hot topic, but what exactly do we mean by it?

The (current) accepted definition of a hybrid cloud is any compute/storage environment using a combination of third-party and private (on-premises) cloud resources. Yet, this definition is somewhat misleading. It is very likely that your company has already been using third-party platforms and services—a hybrid cloud model—for many years.

Hybrid cloud is less about the “what” than the “why.” The question isn’t, “Should I move to a hybrid cloud?” (You already have.) The better question is, “Am I using that model to my best advantage?”

On-Premises vs. Public Cloud Capacity—Strategic vs. Non-Strategic Applications

The number of diverse applications, systems and business requirements IT must support is growing exponentially. In response, more tools are being made available to help. Public cloud, private cloud, edge computing and PaaS/SaaS models all give CIOs and IT managers options for handling new, more complex demands. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. The challenge for IT is developing the best mix of available tools to ensure business goals are being met in the most efficient way possible.

Source: Veritas Inc., global IT consulting

The first step in developing a hybrid cloud strategy is understanding which functions, applications and requirements are strategic to the business. More specifically, which operations are core to the organization’s purpose or must remain in-house (i.e., private cloud) due to security, regulatory or other governance issues? These are the high-priority operations for which it makes sense to prepare highly efficient, on-premises resources and staff to support your cloud initiatives.

In deciding whether an application or function is strategic, it is essential to separate the IT output from the hardware/software producing it. For example, you may have significant dollars invested in a legacy mainframe with the software and analytics to run mission-critical applications. But the real question is: How strategically important is the output? If it is strategic, then, by all means, keep it in-house. If not, it may make more sense to migrate applications to public cloud equivalents and use the vacated space for something more strategic.

On the other hand, non-strategic functions represent an opportunity to increase operational efficiency and cost-savings. For example, using a SaaS or PaaS provider to host your CRM platform in a public data center provides more space, staff and resources to support the higher-priority business.

Maximum Productivity and Value, Minimum Space

While the functional purpose of a hybrid cloud strategy is to determine which applications remain on-site and which can go, the overall goal is improving the value and delivery of strategic and non-strategic functions. Often, the full weight of your decisions is not realized until later, when you must address the need for additional data center space.

The cost, time and manpower needed to plan, design, build and maintain a new facility represent some of the most substantial investments a company can make. By strategically optimizing your on-premises cloud capacity—and offloading non-strategic functions to the cloud—you increase available white space. This buys you more time to figure out when you need more space and whether your current optimized facility remains competitive with other options. Additionally, your on-premises equipment (because of its strategic importance) becomes far more valuable and productive.

In some cases, organizations will discover that, once they take their non-strategic operations to the cloud, the cost of running key applications on-site does not warrant maintaining their existing data center. At this point, it may make more sense to sell the data center and lease back the space needed or partner with a multi-tenant data center.

Potential Pitfalls

Of course, moving applications and business functions off-premises also has its downside. Select well. Re-locating core capabilities to the cloud compromises control and can erode your competitive edge. And, while public cloud may appear to be an especially good option for smaller organizations, it can quickly become cost-prohibitive as you scale. Should you decide to transition from a public cloud, re-locating your data to a new environment is often complex and costly, restricting future options. This is not to say that public cloud options are intrinsically high-risk; they’re not. It does, however, emphasize the need to view every decision within the context of your long-term strategy while weighing the cost and agility entailed by public cloud options. – Read more

2020 Cloud Rush – Why So Many Small Businesses Are Adopting Cloud

My Post (20).pngThe impact of the pandemic has led to a dramatic rise in the number of small businesses adopting cloud technology. With nine out of ten companies now making use of cloud IT and 60 per cent of workloads being run in the cloud, it has become the go-to option for forward-thinking firms. By providing them with the same technologies used by larger rivals, but without the need for capital investment, the cloud delivers an affordable way to innovate, automate and become more agile. Here are just some of the ways small businesses are benefitting from cloud adoption.

Awesome power at low-cost

In the age of digital transformation, companies need hi-tech solutions to help them compete. While technologies such as data analytics, AI, machine learning, IoT and automation are widely used, a lack of financial resources has left many smaller businesses out of the loop. However, by migrating to the cloud, companies can have access to the necessary infrastructure without having to invest heavily in setting up an on-site datacentre. All the hardware is provided by the service provider and paid for on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Furthermore, the cloud offers the ideal set-up for fast and easy expansion, enabling companies to scale up or down their IT resources on-demand, helping them to increase capacity in line with growth and cope with spikes in demand in a convenient way. Expansion that would take considerable expenditure and days of work to set up in-house, can be had cost-effectively at the click of a button.

New normal adaptation

The pandemic has led many companies to reassess the way they operate, especially with regard to their working practices. Across the globe, swathes of employees are finding themselves able to ditch the commute and work more flexibly from home as executives seek to downsize offices.

Cloud technology is a key enabler of remote working, giving employees the ability to access the company’s IT resources anywhere with an internet connection. Firms can also make use of software as a service (SaaS) packages, providing them with a multitude of business applications, such as Microsoft 365, with which to carry out their work.

These technologies enable employers to offer flexible hours, recruit staff from further afield and reduce office occupancy. What’s more, they can also monitor staff productivity and task progress, as well as tracking inventory and shipping.

Better collaboration

Over the course of the lockdown, the leading software companies have gone all out to improve the collaborative cloud-based applications that teams rely on. Existing apps have been enhanced and new ones created to provide far better video chat, messaging and document sharing platforms. Features such as group editing, instant syncing and project management, together with improved security, enable remote working teams to be assembled and collaborate on a wide range of initiatives.

Transformative technology in your hands  

The cloud is the ideal place to benefit from today’s must-have technologies, like artificial intelligence, data analytics and the Internet of Things. Indeed, many of these are cloud-native, with applications that can be deployed at the click of a button in a cloud environment. What’s more, a lot of these cloud-based apps are open-source, meaning that they are free to use.

This means small businesses can take advantage of the cloud immediately, accelerating their ability to benefit from data-driven insights. As a result, they can reduce costs, improve operations and discover new opportunities much quicker than before.

Solid security

While security is a concern for every business, small firms have an additional issue when it comes to providing the in-house security expertise and resources to keep their systems protected. Migration to the cloud removes many of these headaches as the service provider will undertake a great deal of this work on their customers’ behalf.

Cloud providers have to comply with stringent regulations to ensure their infrastructure is robustly secure. By migrating to the cloud, small businesses will be automatically protected by a wide range of sophisticated security tools, such as next-gen firewalls, intrusion prevention apps and malware scanners – all of which are managed and maintained by security experts. – Read more

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