You can’t read a trade or business publication these days without seeing an article about digital transformation, and the disruption that digital players are having in every marketplace. It’s fair to say no company or industry is immune to the effects of the digital economy.
The pace of change and innovation has become so rapid, it’s hard for companies to keep pace, and I’d argue that’s one reason companies have flocked to the cloud.
Global cloud adoption has topped 81% Bitglass
So Many Clouds
When people talk about cloud it’s easy to bandy terminology about (without really understanding the differences) so here’s a simple set of definitions:
Public Cloud: Hosted over the internet, public cloud offerings include software, hardware, infrastructure or data-as-a-service solutions.
Private Cloud: Hosted onsite or offsite, private clouds are built exclusively for one organization.
Hybrid Cloud: Taking advantage of benefits of public and private cloud solutions, companies use public cloud for some services such as a website and private cloud for sensitive enterprise applications.
Focus on Service
Beyond the structure of a cloud solution, albeit public, private or hybrid, the explosive volume of data and the trend towards “everything as a service” (XaaS) has created new cloud-based offerings to help companies cope with their data (especially as they move to adopt machine learning and artificial intelligence solutions).
- Storage-as-a-service where companies store data in the cloud in an archived format, paying only for the storage capacity they use.
- Database-as-a-service can speed up application development, improve infrastructure utilization and maintain consistent database quality.
- Big data-as-a-service is an emerging category, offering services such as data processing for unstructured data, training of deep learning algorithms, data “cleaning” services and data security.
Cloud Makes Sense Because …
Why are companies flocking to the cloud? Some of the more compelling reasons include:
- Speed – Digital transformation waits for no one: Moving to cloud-based solutions can shorten deployment times for complex solutions like CRM.
- Collaboration – Teams can work together seamlessly across the office, country or on the other side of the world. Office 365 for Enterprise, for example, has a diverse set of corporate tools for productivity, workflows and communication (but more on this next time).
- Mobility – Staff don’t need their office PC to get needed files or stay in touch. Mobile devices can get real-time access to the most up to date information through cloud-based applications.
- Integration – Often cloud-based solutions are built to work together (just look at Microsoft’s suite of solutions), which streamlines a company’s ability to use data across platforms for greater insights and improved decision-making.
- Cashflow – Cloud lets companies move from large up-front capital costs for new software, services and hardware to a monthly fee.
- Scalability – Have seasonal hires? Growing Rapidly? Cloud services let companies pay for what they use so they can scale up to meet peak demands or scale down during quieter periods.
- Security – there are mixed feelings on security when it comes to cloud but for companies without the internal resources and expertise to manage a private cloud environment, public cloud solutions or a XaaS option can help keep your systems stay up to date, and you’ve got access to the latest information to counter threats.
- Business Continuity – Power outages, natural disasters or emergencies like fires or floods used to incapacitate a company who’d start praying back ups were done (and were complete). Always up to date and readily accessible, downtime for recovery is slashed with cloud-based solutions.
- Expert Resources – Companies gain access to the expert resources of their cloud providers; resources they might have been able to hire (or keep busy on a full-time basis).
- Manageability – Cloud service providers handle and manage the back-end for you ensuring updates, patches and all security concerns are handled for you, which also saves time for your internal teams.
While the move to the cloud continues, many companies are starting to migrate cloud deployments to include private or hybrid models for greater control and security, according to IDC. This move underscores the importance for companies to carefully evaluate their needs (and perhaps get help analyzing the options) to make the best choices to address their business challenges within a cloud environment.