Did you know, 81% of enterprises have adopted a multi-cloud strategy? This statistic, in RightScale’s report on cloud trends in 2018, was captured through a survey sent to over 900 enterprises with more than 1000 employees. Does this mean that you should move to the cloud?
I’ve been asked this question several times, and the honest answer is that the cloud is not for everyone, at least going 100% to the cloud is not for everyone. Several competitive companies listed on industries top list of successful enterprises have yet to make a move to the cloud. When speaking with organizations contemplating the move [ to the cloud ], there seems to be a misconception as to what benefits they receive from these technologies that exist through services such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Azure, Google Cloud, and many more smaller cloud service providers. These “myths” of what is and what is not the cloud is the crux to why the organizations I’ve spoken with may or may not have moved at this point. The cloud has been around for a lot longer than people know. It has the benefits that make it a valuable addition or foundation to the work that is being produced on top of the several cloud platforms out there.
In my opinion, there are far more benefits of integrating cloud services to strengthen an organization’s IT strategy. And, it doesn’t have to be a full migration to the cloud to take in these benefits. In fact, in the same report by RightScale, about 51% of enterprises use a hybrid-cloud strategy. This strategy allows an organization to maintain internal control of technology while taking advantage of the cloud’s key benefits. Several areas are advantageous; However, I’ve included five areas of the cloud that can benefit enterprises such as application services, global presence, cost reduction, security, and compliance.
When discussing application services that are available, the current cloud services platforms – more specifically the big three AWS, Azure and Google – have a significant amount of services that allow you to separate processes of an application into smaller services, which take advantage of hardware and numbers of requests, memory, disk space, etc. Examples of application services are database engines, file storage, notification services, email messaging services, etc. Having the ability to ‘off-load’ tasks in an application can reduce the number of load to servers speeding up time of delivery to the end consumer.
Additionally, the services can be used to simplify the need for data processing, analytics and other essential application features that can be scaled and spread across the globe. Yes, these services can spread across data-centers located in several countries and regions providing another critical area for your enterprise.
As your company grows beyond local, state or country, it is imperative to have the resources necessary to launch your applications and services to the nearest location of your customers. All cloud service providers stretch their reach beyond the U.S. border making your company a global competitor overnight.
Imagine, over a decade ago, if you wanted to expand to another country, you needed to set up facilities in the country of your target customers. You would consider logistics for hardware, software, labor costs, network and most importantly, politics. With cloud services, you offload your problems of localizing to your cloud service provider.
Google, Amazon, and Microsoft allow your organization to expand its footprint to countries such as Korea, China, Australia, Brazil, Singapore, Mumbai, and many other countries, globalizing your business overnight. If you are an organization with limited financial resources, you can compete toe-to-toe for global customers. Competing at this global level wasn’t possible before. More importantly, you can accomplish globalization at a fraction of the cost, which is another significant benefit of cloud services.
I’m under the assumption that you are running a business and therefore, operational costs are a priority when building a business of any size. Let’s go back to the scenario of creating your data-center to house hardware, software, etc. for your organization. Companies with multi-billion dollar market caps have the amount of money necessary to develop such a facility.
Facebook built one of the most innovative data centers in the arctic spending over $100 Million to construct a facility to handle the size and scale of the billions of transactions that occur on their platform every day. They have the resources to develop their data-center but imagine trying to compete with a company of that size. I know that’s a stretch if you’re a small business, but even some fortune 1000 firms don’t have the cash to build a competing facility. Cloud services provide the scale for companies of any size to compete at the level of Facebook and other application platforms by leveraging the shared costs of millions of cloud customers, therefore minimizing the cost of resources to compete.
In 2015, I had the honor of working with a company that built a social media platform that was to become a rival of the Facebook platform. It was a tall order from the CEO, and at the time I ran the development team to deliver the platform. As we began to incorporate similar features of posts, replies, chats, image uploads and many more, we utilized Amazon Web Services to manage scale, processing, disk space, etc. for the level of resources we needed to handle millions of requests per day. The monthly costs to have all of the resources available to us ran an estimated $3000 a month. By comparison to the cost of building that infrastructure using a private or on-premise data-center, it was a small fraction of that cost.
Additionally, Facebook’s data-center comes with a level of security that is practically impossible to match. As a company builds their facilities, they need to take into account hardware and network security as well as physical security of the location and its personnel. It’s an additional factor to take into account and thus the next important area when considering cloud services.
As a consumer of cloud services, you take advantage of what is considered a “Shared Security Model.” What that means to you is that you are responsible for the applications, content, etc. you place inside of your cloud, but the provider will control and manage all other areas of security. This management pertains to the facilities, personnel, hardware and network infrastructure at their data-centers. Their efforts don’t absolve you from making sure you are not putting into the cloud, poorly architected applications that leave security holes or passing viruses and trojans to the cloud network. That is still your responsibility, but that is true whether you are using an on-premise data-center or the cloud. However, imagine having to manage all of the other areas that your cloud service provider maintains?
Lastly, the importance of security is the result of regulatory compliance, which is the fifth area I consider to be a huge benefit to using the cloud. Many regulatory agencies have compliance requirements to do business in a specific industry. For instance, health care has HIPAA, credit card processing has PCI, and there are several others for agencies in government, education, finance, etc. As an organization competing for business in these industries, your level of success is determined by whether you meet these compliance requirements or not. Having a cloud service provider that is compliant gives you that edge over a competitor that is working towards compliance through their on-premise data-center.
For example, I’ve worked with a customer who had all of their on-premise servers and databases inside of a private office in a remote location. This office was their version of a data-center. The “center” didn’t have keycard security access, checkpoints and other security measures to comply with some of the government regulations. Thus the government passed on their proposal. On their second rebuttal attempt, our team migrated their application servers and databases to the cloud and terminated their “center” by networking their local office systems to the cloud network through encrypted connections. This work put them in compliance to meet the governing body’s compliance requirements.
In conclusion, I didn’t dig into all of the benefits of cloud services, but it’s a short top five of the areas that I feel are important based on my experience with our customers. We focus on growth and scalability without the massive investment it would take to compete with significant players in our customers’ industries. As of this writing, the top three cloud providers continue to be Amazon Web Services, Azure, and Google. There are several small-cap cloud services out there that have some services that are more specialized to storage, processing, media, etc., which all work to give your company the opportunity to be competitive and grow exponentially.
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