It is an understatement to say the cloud is everywhere. From the single digit-inch smartphones to many feet wide flat televisions, almost every device on Planet Earth today comes cloud-enabled.
If your organization is at the crossroads of a cloud implementation, here are a few things that you must bear in mind.
Let us begin with the various cloud offerings that your organization can choose from –
|The three types of clouds|
|Public Cloud||Private Cloud||Hybrid Cloud|
Each of these cloud service types has distinct traits and business advantages that make them ideal for diverse business scenarios.
There is no single cloud offering that will suit every organization. It is necessary to do a mindful analysis of the pros and cons of each cloud type since this choice will have a long-term effect on the business growth and operational flexibility of the business.
Public cloud environments are perhaps the most commonly used cloud services. The servers and storage systems are owned and controlled by a third-party service provider. Users can access the data through the internet with individual logins and user profiles that ensure data safety and security.
Users of a public cloud are referred to as “tenants”. All tenants of a public cloud will use the same IT hardware that the cloud service provider offers. They are largely used for hosting email services, mobile applications, and for testing and development environments.
Benefits of using a public cloud:
Since a public cloud does not require investment in dedicated IT hardware like servers, storage, or peripherals for these devices, it offers tangible cost savings.
Since the cloud servers and hardware is owned, controlled, and managed by third parties, the onus of routine upkeep and maintenance also falls on them. This means the enterprise need not worry about backups, security, or even expanding resources.
Quick scalability – Public cloud services are like on-demand services that can be scaled instantly and seamlessly as your business demands grow. Since capacity can be instantly scaled, it spares your business from the need to lock-up capital in long-term plans with unused resources.
Maximum uptime – Public cloud services count on uptime and reliability as a selling point. They take all measures to ensure maximum uptime. Most popular public service providers offer at least 99.99% uptime.
Popular public cloud service providers:
Alt text: Popularpublic cloud services to consider for your cloud implementation
A private cloud is a cloud service that is used by a business or an organization exclusively for its purpose. It does not host multiple tenants as in a public cloud. The hardware, servers, and storage are all owned and controlled by the business itself.
As a result, it is possible to locate the private cloud in the office premises itself. Alternatively, it can also be housed in a third-party service provider’s data center. However, all the hardware and software pertaining to the private cloud will remain under the ownership of your organization.
Benefits of using a private cloud:
A higher degree of control
A private cloud is owned and managed entirely by the business with its own IT resources. This gives a greater degree of control over hardware and the software used. Access to internal applications that use the cloud service can also be better managed in a private cloud environment.
Higher operational efficiency
The higher degree of control cascades into another benefit — higher operational efficiency. The privately-owned on-premise cloud server or datacenter makes it easy to intervene and implement fixes as and when needed. The IT admin team can easily monitor ongoing deployment using analytics to predict bottlenecks and take corrective action for smooth operations.
While public cloud service providers adapt their own security mechanisms for data security, in private cloud environments, the option is left to the choice of the organization. The organization can also implement security procedures that are specific to its business and industry.
Hybrid cloud solutions can be rightly called the best of both worlds. It combines an on-premise cloud infrastructure with a private or public cloud service. The end-result is a cloud environment where apps can move seamlessly between both environments.
Hybrid cloud environments are favored by businesses that want to make full use of their on-premise infrastructure while using public/private cloud environments as an extension. This extension could be to comply with certain regulations, data sovereignty requirements, or to manage bandwidth.
Benefits of hybrid cloud:
Maximum usage of on-premise infrastructure
Hybrid cloud enables maximum usage of on-premise infrastructure. It ensures that the investment already put into setting it up is not wasted. There are no redundancies when the organization is trying to migrate to a cloud-based work environment.
Hybrid clouds are fast evolving to include edge workloads. Edge computing will enable IoT devices to leverage the cloud to their advantage. They will be able to remain offline for extended periods of time without latency issues and still connect to the cloud whenever required for data synchronization.
Ease of migration
Hybrid cloud is an ideal proposition for those organizations that are beginning their cloud transformation journey. It ensures that there is a gradual but consistent migration of processes to the cloud. It provides ample time for employees to get adjusted to the new systems while giving adequate space for IT personnel to implement cloud-based processes.
When to choose which cloud service?
It can be quite challenging to decide which cloud service to choose, but the table below might help.
|When you want total control over the cloud infrastructure||❌||✅||✅|
|When you want maximum security||❌||✅||❌|
|When you want a cost-effective cloud service||✅||❌||✅|
|When you want dedicated cloud storage||❌||✅||❌|
|When you want to comply with specific security and statutory compliances||❌||✅||✅|
|When you want quick scalability||✅||❌||✅|
Fortune in the cloud: What value can cloud implementation bring to your business?
In the current scenario, most businesses are only scratching the surface when it comes to leveraging the cloud by using it as a means of data storage or device-agnostic way of running operations.
However, there is still more that the cloud can offer.
- Amplifies IT agility
The first benefit that cloud brings to any business is IT agility. It removes redundancies in IT operations by reducing hardware dependency. As a result, it becomes easier to scale operations to any geographies or regions where the business wants to establish presence. It can also provide the same technical support to employees who could be working from remote locations instead of on-site premises.
- Accelerates innovation
A new idea, process, or technology requires rigorous testing before it can be scaled across the organization. Public, private, and hybrid clouds offer a sandbox environment where it is safer and easier to test software code before implementation in production. This helps accelerate innovation without breaking things that are working smoothly. Once the tests are successful, they can be shifted quickly to a live production environment.
- Opens new revenue avenues
Cloud invariably helps a business to explore new revenue avenues that could have been impossible to enter earlier due to physical hardware limitations. By making data accessible from anywhere and through any device, the cloud helps businesses to provide customers with new services that can be monetized.
For example, retail companies can start rolling out BOPIS (Buy-online-pickup-in-store) or ROPIS (Reserve-online-pickup-in-store) which would enable customers to have complete flexibility in their shopping.
- Kick-starts digital transformation
Cloud can be righty called the precursor of digital transformation. In fact, it is also a prerequisite for digital transformation as it enables an organization to migrate its legacy systems to digital platforms and help continue the operations with efficiency. From a customer-facing mobile app to analytical platforms for business analysts, or even a CRM that gives a 360-degree view of the customer, every digital initiative can branch off to new heights with cloud.
Questions to ask yourself when spoiled for choice!
- What should the cloud do for your business?
The cloud can bring a host of benefits for your business. It can bring remote connectivity, reduce hardware dependency, accelerate digitization, introduce new revenue channels, and so on. But what exactly should it do for your business? Without a proper objective, cloud implementation could prove to be an expensive mission that does not deliver adequate value.
Identifying the objective that cloud implementation should do for your business is the first step. It will ensure that all efforts stay focused on a single purpose, instead of vague or fragmented objectives.
- Does your industry have any specific security/compliance mandates?
Each industry vertical works within a tight framework of statutory compliances and regulations. In fact, they do change from region to region, as is the case with GDPR. Cloud implementation requires hosting a considerable amount of business data, including customer information and accounting records on on-premise or remote servers.
Several regulations and compliances oversee the storing, processing, and managing of such data. For example, healthcare requires HIPAA, BFSI has PCI DSS, and so on. It is necessary to cross-check whether the security/compliance mandates for your industry clashes with these mandates. Although most cloud offerings and service providers comply with most compliances and statutory regulations, a validation would save a lot of time and effort in the future.
- What is your organization’s digital maturity?
Digital maturity can be defined as an organization’s ability to create value through digital initiatives. It predicts how well a company can achieve digital transformation and avail its benefits.
We can broadly classify organizations as digital laggards, digital leaders, and digital pioneers. Laggards are those using legacy systems and yet to initiate their digital journey. Leaders are those who run digital initiatives. Pioneers are those who have implemented digital initiatives that paved the path for others to follow.
It is evident that laggards have the largest potential for cloud adoption. Leaders and pioneers can explore advanced cloud options for expanding their efficiencies. It is necessary to assess and determine your organization’s digital maturity so that the right cloud transformation approach can be taken.
- Would you need to integrate with third-party software or middleware?
Cloud adoption does not mean abruptly truncating all legacy systems and processes. It certainly does not mean a total cloud-based working model as well. It is possible to have both cloud and on-premise systems, as is offered by hybrid cloud.
If your organization has the need to integrate third-party software or middleware with the cloud systems, then the choice of cloud as well as the cloud service provider will also vary significantly.
Bringing it all together
“Global spending on the digital transformation (DX) of business practices, products, and organizations is forecast to reach $2.8 trillion in 2025, more than double the amount allocated in 2020.” (Source: IDC)
Cloud is an enabler of digital transformation. It is one of the four pillars of digital transformation – the other three being social, mobile, and analytics. Cloud implementation is not a one-time project, but a foundation upon which you will build the digital future of the business.