It’s hard to have an IT-related conversation these days without mentioning the cloud – it’s already widely used by many companies, and integrated into most aspects of our day-to-day lives. A 2020 IDG Cloud Computing Survey showed 81% of organizations were already using cloud computing or had applications in the cloud. But what about the rest? When the COVID-19 pandemic forced offices worldwide to create telework environments, companies that still relied on on-premise storage and solutions were suddenly in need of a way to make files and applications accessible to workers from their homes, and the cloud was the answer. Whether a public cloud, using resources from a provider like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud, private cloud, operated exclusively for one customer, or a hybrid, which uses both models, the cloud offers benefits to organizations of all sizes.
The up-front cost of cloud migration may give some companies pause – particularly small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with smaller IT budgets. However, those companies can benefit the most from the cloud, and, in general, most companies can realize long-term savings following a successful implementation. The best way to understand the actual savings is to take an audit of current IT-related expenses. It’s not just the up-front costs of equipment; there are costs associated with the maintenance of hardware and facilities to factor in as well. Many organizations are able to downsize their office space after eliminating the need for server rooms and other real estate required for IT hardware, which can significantly reduce overhead. Factor in the costs to replace aging hardware and the cloud’s cost benefits become clear.
With cyber-attacks constantly on the rise and the average cost of a data breach in the U.S. estimated at $8.64 million, security is a major concern for every business. In the past, concerns about the security of their data often prevented companies from implementing cloud migrations. However, when deployed and managed correctly, cloud solutions are just as secure as on-premise solutions, if not more so. It is essential to understand what services the cloud provider offers and carefully look at the service-level agreements (SLAs). A good cloud solutions provider will provide monitoring and protection and offer customized security protocols that meet regulatory and compliance needs. They will also offer services like benchmarking and vulnerability assessments, looking for weak spots and areas for improvement, and ensuring access to a company’s data is protected.
Automatic software updates
Hackers regularly look for out-of-date and unpatched software to exploit. In a BitSight report that analyzed more than 35,000 companies, those running outdated operating systems on more than half their computers were nearly three times as likely to experience a breach. The failure to update is often simply due to oversight; other times, it results from an overtaxed IT department putting off updates. Cloud-based applications automatically update, saving data, time, and resources. When IT departments don’t need to update software manually, their time can be spent on other projects, and workers aren’t left with workflow interruption while waiting for updates to finish.
The cloud can be a game-changer when it comes to business intelligence. Most companies have plenty of data, but often it is siloed, kept in separate containers that limit its power. A cloud solution that includes integrated analytics pulls all of that data together and lets companies get a big-picture view of organizational data. By creating tracking mechanisms and reports that allow analysis of the company’s data, companies can really tap into information that lets them gain insights, identify shortcomings, and make better strategic decisions.
The cloud allows organizations to scale up or down easily as business needs change, particularly in public and hybrid cloud models, where nearly unlimited storage is available. It is much easier for a company with growth plans to utilize cloud offerings and simply upscale as needed than to try and build an on-premise solution that meets anticipated needs. An SMB using cloud services that took a financial hit in an economic recession, for example, wouldn’t be stuck with far more hardware – and overhead – than it needs or can afford.
The cloud also allows organizational flexibility – if employees need to work from multiple remote locations, applications hosted in the cloud allow workers to access the tools they need to do their jobs from anywhere.
The same organizational flexibility enabled by the cloud allows workers to collaborate more effectively as well. Cloud-based platforms allow teams to easily share information, documents, workspaces, and more, without needing to be in the same office, or even time zone. Working on shared documents eliminates email chains with multiple versions of the same document, and integrated chat or video communications channels enable real-time communication on projects. All of this leads to increased productivity, a reduction in errors, and a more collaborative workforce.
Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeastern U.S. in 2012, causing severe flooding leaving some server rooms and data centers under water and countless businesses without power. Companies need backup and disaster recovery that will let them get back up and running even if their physical office is destroyed, and cloud services are the ideal solution. IDG’s study showed disaster recovery was one of the top areas slated for cloud migration in the next 12 months, and 40% of respondents had already deployed their disaster recovery solution in the cloud or were in the process of migrating there.
Businesses are increasingly asked to make sustainability a priority, and cloud solutions can support these efforts in many ways. According to the World Economic Forum, electronic waste, or e-waste, is the fastest-growing waste stream in the world. One way to reduce e-waste is to use less hardware that will eventually age out. Server rooms also require a lot of energy to run. While large datacenters do consume energy, they are generally built for their purpose and are more energy-efficient than the typical office building.
Cloud computing isn’t just useful during a pandemic. Under normal circumstances, many workers travel extensively as part of their jobs and need anytime, anywhere access to the tools those jobs require. Cloud solutions allow access to company communications, data, and applications from any device with an internet connection. An increasingly mobile workforce needs cloud solutions to maximize productivity.
All of these benefits listed above are enough to give any company a competitive edge. The speed of cloud computing allows for increased efficiency and a company that takes advantage of all the benefits will find itself outpacing the competition. An Accenture survey of senior IT executives identified “Leaders” as those in the top 10% of technology adoption, and found they were able to grow revenue at more than twice the rate of those in the bottom 25% – the “Laggards” who aren’t yet leveraging the full value of strategic innovation.
As the events of 2020 unfolded and organizations sped up digital transformation efforts, the cloud became more important than ever. Companies that were already using the cloud were well ahead of those that had to scramble to implement solutions, and the gap will only continue to widen. Organizations that don’t adapt their systems to the cloud risk being left behind.
In today’s data-driven landscape, businesses of all sizes are moving their operations to the cloud as they come to understand the invaluable benefits the cloud can offer. The demand for speed and agility is at an all-time high, but cloud migration is not all smooth sailing. Successful migrations entail careful planning and preparation to ensure the transition is done correctly. We recommend partnering with certified cloud service experts to work alongside your IT team to effectively and efficiently elevate your business to the cloud.
As an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Select Consulting Partner, we help companies of all sizes modernize their infrastructure and get started in the cloud. We’re experts when it comes to the cloud and work with many other cloud service providers—including Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, or Rackspace. Contact us today to learn how we can help get you started with the cloud and further Empower your IT!
Kikoda is a client-focused software company providing comprehensive IT services including custom software development, team scaling, cloud and platform solutions (IaaS, PaaS), data analytics, and business intelligence services…just to name a few.