CLEARING UP THE CLOUD FOR DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
Cloud use is growing rapidly
Cloud adoption globally is growing rapidly, held back only by a lack of knowledge and security concerns.
An Intel Security Survey of 2000 security professionals globally found that more than 90 percent stated that their organization was using some type of cloud service. “Cloud First for many companies is progressing and remains the objective,” the report noted with the caveat: “It is evident from our survey that the lack of cybersecurity skills is having an impact on cloud adoption for organizations of all sizes.”
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that cloud services are now used by one-quarter of Australian businesses with as few as four workers and by 60 percent of businesses with 200 or more workers. However, it also states that the most common factor limiting the use of paid cloud computing services was insufficient knowledge.
The Cloud is Physical
Like the Internet, the cloud comprises a physical network of servers, storage, software and networking devices referred to broadly as “infrastructure”. There are three types of cloud – Private, Public and Hybrid – defined by how this infrastructure is configured and who uses it.
A Private Cloud typically comprises of computing and storage facilities that are accessed exclusively by the business using it.
A Public Cloud is infrastructure owned and managed by a third party and shared by multiple companies. A subset of this is a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), an on-demand configurable pool of shared computing resources allocated within a Public Cloud environment.
A Hybrid Cloud combines these models to meet the specific needs of a business. Located in a Private Cloud, either on-premises or co-located, a Hybrid Cloud uses Public Cloud for surge compute capabilities and lower-criticality storage and computing processes. Service management software orchestrates the two. In some cases, a Managed Service Provider can both own and manage cloud infrastructure which is housed in a third-party data center. The infrastructure is effectively leased out exclusively to a business which avoids the complexity of having to purchase, license, maintain and manage equipment.
A Private Cloud is resource-intensive and costly, but it is safe and under the full control of the business.
A Hybrid Cloud removes some cost and complexity from a Private Cloud configuration while improving responsiveness by using Public Cloud infrastructure to meet surge and non-critical requirements. However, this model still requires a skilled team to achieve the best combination of infrastructure and services.
A Public Cloud requires minimal resources or technical knowledge from smaller companies, although as they grow, security and performance become more important considerations.
Migrating a larger company from existing infrastructure to a full Public Cloud is a complex process because the transitioned data may encounter incompatibilities with the Public Cloud provider’s infrastructure. The cost-benefit of using a Public Cloud is a basic risk-reward equation.
It is important to distinguish cloud-based software from the cloud. Cloud-based software, otherwise known as Software as a Service (SaaS), describes subscription software which usually resides on a Public Cloud and is maintained by the vendor.
Businesses can purchase licenses for software applications such as CRM (Customer Relationship Management), graphic design, marketing automation, accounting etc through monthly or annual subscription payments
SaaS applications offer numerous benefits over self-hosted software including:
- Immediate access to security and feature updates
- Outsourced performance management
- Outsourced technical management
- The significantly lower overall cost
- Cloud-based storage
- Access to the software from anywhere via a web browser
However, when choosing cloud-based software, businesses must ask:
- On which Public Cloud is the data stored?
- In which country does the data reside?
- Is the data secure and how frequently is it backed-up?
- What security measures are taken to ensure data is protected?
These are important considerations because oversights can wreak havoc by damaging the brand and/or the bottom line of the affected business. Risks include lost or hacked customer data and breaching industry or government security regulations. It is therefore essential for businesses to choose a reliable technology provider that can ensure data is securely stored and retrieved in the case of an incident.
When to Consider a Digital Transformation
For most organizations, the perfect balance is having a mix of cost-effective, scalable, high performing and integrated technologies that can deliver a holistic view of business performance.
Each business is different, but there are common indicators that suggest it’s time to start planning a digital transformation. Businesses experiencing or anticipating change or planning for growth are ideal candidates for embarking on a digital transformation to ensure that systems will scale with increasing operational demands.