Why Cloud-Based Infrastructure Can No Longer Be Ignored
Key Points in This Article:
- Many companies avoid moving some or all of their operations to the cloud, given concerns about data privacy and security, time, and costs.
- Moving to a cloud-based infrastructure has many benefits, including cost-savings, greater security, improved productivity, and fewer risks than believed.
- When moving to cloud-based operations, it’s important to have a plan, involve relevant internal stakeholders, and leverage third-party expertise when necessary.
The onset of the pandemic saw businesses and organizations of all types rapidly embrace digital transformation. For many, doing so was a matter of survival. No longer could they avoid leveraging online technologies to improve operations. Instead, many companies have utilized digital resources to improve workflows, production, fulfillment, and even products.
However, not every company has truly or fully embraced digital transformation. Some companies have made only incremental changes, resisting broader change in favor of legacy approaches. Data centers are a prime example. Some businesses still opt to run and manage their own in-house data centers when moving to a cloud-based or hybrid cloud-based infrastructure would be more efficient and cost-effective.
And while utilizing cloud-based applications is central to digital transformation, many companies are still reluctant to use them.
Why Many Companies Continue to Avoid the Cloud
Some business and IT leaders resist the cloud because of data privacy and security concerns. They may fear that moving operations to a cloud-based computing environment put sensitive financial or proprietary information at risk. Or they may be concerned that a third-party cloud service provider is a bigger target for cyber attackers and that using the cloud heightens their risk of a data breach while reducing their ability to safeguard their own data.
Others have avoided it given worries about the time and costs involved. Moving data to the cloud is not merely uploading a file. It typically involves reimagining workflows and processes, which can take some time. Of course, doing so is also not free. The upfront investment required, which can vary considerably depending on needs and providers, may give some executives pause.
Why Moving to the Cloud is Critical to Growth
In some cases, these concerns are not without merit. But too often, they are not grounded in fractal information but in assumptions and misunderstandings. There are not only numerous measures cloud-based providers take to ensure client data privacy, but their cybersecurity measures are often far more robust than that of their clients.
While it can take time to reimagine certain operational aspects of a business for cloud computing, cloud providers and managed service providers (MSPs) that provide cloud services help clients develop a phased implementation approach, allowing them the time they need to make an effective transition.
And while there is an upfront investment required, the cost-savings businesses can achieve are substantial. Deploying a cloud-based or hybrid-cloud-based computing environment eliminates or reduces the costs associated with running a physical data center, from hardware to labor. Moreover, when businesses introduce automation tools into their operations during their cloud deployment, they can also realize cost savings through improved productivity across the organization.
Intermediate-term and long-term cost savings are major selling points, but there are other benefits to moving business operations to the cloud.
One of the biggest benefits for growing businesses is cloud-based infrastructure’s scalability. With on-prem data centers, it can be difficult to increase capacity as customer traffic and orders increase. And it’s next to impossible to do this in real-time. Countless businesses have lost revenue to competitors during an unexpected surge in demand simply because their websites crashed. But with a cloud provider, businesses can quickly increase their bandwidth, storage, and computing power to take advantage. Moreover, they can reduce it just as quickly, making it a more cost-efficient option than on-prem operations.
Greater Operational Flexibility and Collaboration
Moving to the cloud also helps employees work with each other across towns, states, and countries efficiently in real-time. Not only can it help increase productivity, but it’s also ideal for remote operations. Cloud operations can help businesses design and offer fully remote positions. Businesses that do have access to a broader talent pool than those that don’t. And employing the right talent can increase productivity and revenue and decrease labor costs by reducing turnover and recruiting costs.
Cloud-based providers also generally provide businesses with more reliably performing infrastructure. Large providers have robust redundancies in place, making downtime exceedingly rare. And as they operate round the clock, system issues are usually resolved rapidly. But for a small or medium-sized business, maintaining comparable uptime requires substantial hardware and personnel investments that are typically cost-prohibitive.
Improved Disaster Planning
Using the cloud is also tremendously advantageous regarding disaster and business continuity planning. Establishing a system of cloud-based backups to complement backups on your on-prem or off-prem servers is a smart strategic move. If a natural or manmade disaster affects the building where the backups you manage are stored, you can rapidly recover data and resume operations from your cloud-based ones. In fact, this is one area where a hybrid-cloud approach, rather than a cloud-only (or on-prem only) approach, is best. With backups on the cloud, off-site, and onsite, you substantially reduce the risk that a disaster will bring your operations to a halt for more than a few hours.
Businesses can also generally benefit from greater levels of cybersecurity when they partner with a reputable cloud provider. Cloud providers operate round the clock, using advanced threat detection tools and techniques that most small and medium-sized businesses simply can’t replicate. Moreover, leading cloud providers like Amazon and Google have the resources to hire the best cybersecurity experts in the world, who can be put to work helping keep client data safe. Even large corporations find it difficult to match the economies of scale that large clod-providers can offer. And working with an MSP that offers cloud-based services allows businesses to leverage cybersecurity professionals to help plan, test, and fortify their cybersecurity plans and infrastructure.
Getting Started With Cloud-Based Infrastructure
As with any IT initiative, migrating your operations to a cloud-based environment starts with a plan. IT leaders, working in tandem with leaders across the organization, should begin by defining their goals for the migration. They’ll need to assess what applications are in place, noting which ones are still in use and which ones should be retired. It’s important to determine which new cloud-based applications can supplant existing ones, to exist software dependencies, and workflows.
Along with defining goals, businesses must define what constitutes success and identify metrics for measuring it. Some key success criteria include costs, scalability, reliability, data integrity, access speed, and operational load, but others may vary depending on the migration goals. Next, those driving this initiative must choose a provider, the tools they’ll use to perform the migration, and the migration strategy. A system of backups must also be established before the migration can proceed. Further, IT and other business leaders must communicate progress to key stakeholders at every step.
There are many applications and tools available that can help businesses execute a successful migration. And for businesses ready to begin, there are local MSPs that can help walk them through the process step-by-step.