There is always a hype word or concept in technical fields, and it is up to us as technology professionals to determine if it is really hype or if the current industry topic/discussion may be life changing for our organizations. The talk amongst the “cool data kids on the block” right now is “the cloud.”
With the ever-present request of IT teams to do more with less, we can’t help but turn at least one ear and one furrowed brow to the conversation. After all, our data volumes are increasing, budgets are decreasing and our teams are spread past thin – something’s gotta give and thus we are all compelled to give the cloud some serious consideration. A number of key business drivers will help us determine and justify when moving to a cloud environment is no longer hype but a necessary reality.
Rigorous Fiscal Planning
As a result of current economic conditions, reporting and budgeting have come under extensive review. Every department is expected to justify expenditures in short and long-term plans, which can often be a bit of a dance or guessing game. Migrating to a cloud services option allows organizations to eliminate the guesswork and place more rigor around fiscal planning as costs are predictable and can be directly associated with business activities.
Rising Costs of Hardware and Software
While the actual cost of computing processing cycles continues to decline, the total costs of hardware and software needs are rising. What catches companies off guard is the increasing rate of needed upgrades. As project demands grow, so do the technical requirements. Compounding this issue are factors that require businesses to power up their computer centers for “peak load” while that same equipment might be excess capacity most of the year. Organizations that are not able to upgrade their technology in parallel with their business needs significantly impede their own growth. Cloud services offer the flexibility to add or remove technologies as business needs changes without latency allowing technology to scale with the driving needs of the business.
Availability and reliability are key requirements of almost any, if not all, technical infrastructures today. Maintaining high availability and reliability are resource-intensive tasks that exponentially grow as new hardware and software are added. Infrastructure services in the cloud provide organizations with higher availability and reliability than they can provide with their own resources, and often at a fraction of the cost.
Increased IT Demand and Need for Niche Skills
The demands for IT staff are increasing in both volume and variety, often requiring specific, advanced skills. Prioritizing the needs becomes a difficult challenge and often spreads IT resources thin, making response times slower and the help desk ticket queue longer. The niche skills often require specialized training for current staff or an extended period for finding and hiring individuals with these unique and sometimes obscure skill sets. Migrating to a managed cloud environment releases organizations from the barriers these specialized skills are creating.
Decreased IT Personnel Resources
To complicate matters even further, as IT demands are increasing and changing, the ratio of available IT personnel resources is decreasing. This, of course, exasperates the issue of hiring trained and proficient employees. Using cloud services provided by vendors gives organizations constant access to skilled experts without the requirement of having to train them as new technologies are released.
Time to Value
Adopting new technologies can often be a long and arduous process. The length of time between development and production can be an obstacle for organizations because, after all, the system is only as valuable as the value it delivers the organization. Cloud services significantly reduce if not completely eliminate time to value concerns as implementation time can be as fast as immediate.
Increased Business Focus
As organizations look to align their technical strategies with their business initiatives the focus switches from the technical capabilities of the software and hardware to the business benefits and results achieved from the use of such software and hardware. The ease of implementation of cloud services allows for all skill sets to benefit immediately.
Risk and Compliance
Making resources more available to meet mobility needs certainly introduces new risks to organizations and increases compliance requirements significantly. Staying abreast of the regulations to which the organization must comply can be difficult alone, but the additional need to stay informed of the best tools to manage risk and compliance can be virtually impossible. While risk and compliance can be a driving force for migrating to a cloud environment, it should also be one of the most heavily considered factors when selecting cloud service providers. Selecting a vendor that thoroughly understands the regulations applicable to your business and addresses your governance and security needs will prove itself to be a wise relationship very quickly.
Increased Security Demands
As risk and compliance requirements increase when moving to a more mobile and available environment, so do the security demands. These new security demands are so great that an entire department could be added just for the additional workload not to staying on top of industry risks and requirements. This is another double-edged sword for the migration to the cloud environment. While it is critically beneficial for organizations to offload security management, it is imperative that due diligence is performed and adequate oversight policies are followed. Thoroughly researching the cloud service provider’s security tools, policies and procedures to ensure that they will meet, if not exceed, your organization’s requirements, will be imperative.
These drivers will impact each organization at varying levels, some of them having little impact at all. However, for some these drivers will have ripped Band-Aids off fresh wounds and perhaps even added a dash of salt. The move to the cloud can have enormous benefits if appropriately considered, planned and implemented. Do your homework; ask the tough questions of providers and be prepared for a pleasant paradigm shift into the wild blue yonder!
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