Cloud solutions have been evolving rapidly. Not only do we live in a digital world we live in a world of services. From an IT perspective and, more importantly, from a business perspective we now have the paradigm of Everything-as-a-Service. At the core of IT departments sits the data centre, the place with flashing lights and pieces of commoditised tin. The economic case for placing infrastructure in the Cloud is constantly being restated if not always believed. Savings can be made through the reduction (if not elimination) of costs of line items such as storage, backups, hardware, data centre space, power, air-con, disaster recovery colocation, tape media, IT staff and a lot more.
The future and saviour for many companies, most certainly for SMEs, will be the Cloud, be it through Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, Software-as-a-Service or combinations thereof. Cloud solutions can and will save organisations money. They are also the building blocks of the digital framework your business needs to stay competitive.
Today most applications are being developed with a cloud first mentality – just look at SAP who are happy to have a tag line “The Cloud Company”. Salesforce.com is a company that is proving highly successful in delivering cloud based CRM services that can be integrated with other cloud services or traditional on premise systems. In many ways cloud services are the natural progression of a service orientated architecture.
It is interesting to note that in 2014, the European Union set up a whole series of workshops to encourage cloud use in the Public Sectors across Europe. There is a recognition that genuine savings can be made to the public purse adopting cloud solutions.
Most IT departments are under pressure to deliver more for less, so why not embrace it? Is it not better to focus your resources on delivering the future rather than looking after data centres? Don’t you need to be in a position to integrate all those whizzy apps the business keep buying when your back is turned.
Who is behind the bush?
What, if anything, stops you seriously considering adopting cloud solutions? Do you worry about a massive breakdown in connectivity or that the service provider’s infrastructure will kick up its heels, dropping dead and leaving you with a resignation sized problem?
Or, is it simply security? Who is in the shadows that make you think it’s not worth exploring? Back in 2014, the Ponemon institute did some research into data loss. Their results proved illuminating but not totally surprising. As most of us already knew, data loss tends to be by employees and not nefarious types, dressed in striped tops, hacking in from the outside. It is always the butler isn’t it?
Sure there are areas we should all be concerned about but they exist whether you have on premise or cloud solutions. Wi-Fi borne viruses and other nasty things can all happen within the walls of your castle despite your best efforts. There is no silver bullet in IT. If you think there is, then you may need to think again.
Perhaps you should take a look at all the major cloud hosting/service providers’ approach to security. You may find that they are as dedicated to keeping people wearing stripes out as you are. Many providers operate with physical security that even James Bond would find challenging. Dell, HP, IBM and Microsoft have ploughed a lot of effort into various cloud offerings. And yes, back in 2008, a few had little whoopsie moments but then many organisations have, at some point, lost storage, networks and ultimately money because of network bugs, air-con malfunctions or cleaners unplugging things so they can do their vacuuming.
Who is behind the bush?
Using a cloud solution inevitably means that your data is spread across innumerable servers. Where are those servers? Will the CIA have access to your black ops data files? Hosting data centres are usually in a geographical region that meets with UK and European data protection legislation. Anyone who has used Microsoft’ Azure platform will know they are usually given a choice of locations. Mostly, probably because of costs, hosting tends to be in Ireland.
Data security is taken seriously. Amazon, Dell, IBM, Microsoft, Rackspace et al, don’t want to kill the opportunity that the Cloud provides to their revenue streams. All offer high availability, resilient solutions with as good an uptime (if not better) than many organisations currently achieve in-house.
But as already stated, there are no silver bullets. Placing all one’s systems exclusively in the Cloud is probably unlikely just yet. Hybrid solutions are the favoured toe in the water option. Put development, test and play pens there to start with. This act alone can reduce IT operational budgets and pave the way to full adoption.
The elastic frameworks cloud providers offer allows organisations to be more flexible and responsive (agile if you like that word) to business and technology changes. You can reduce your administrative costs and you can deliver a lean and efficient function by including cloud solutions in your architecture.
A quick-footed CIO will always seize opportunities to reduce operational cost whenever they arise. They will make the “Everything as a Service” paradigm work to deliver highly cost effective and agile IT services for their businesses. Doing due diligence will ensure they make informed choices but one thing is certain, they will need to make those decisions.
So what is it that stops you? Think the marriage may start out bright but ultimately the divorce might be messy? Or, is it just paranoia? There are solutions if you take the time to look. Shadow IT solutions are popping up with such frequency, that Chief Architects are having to play Whack-A-Mole to keep them in check.
Embrace the change because you certainly won’t be able to stop it.