Cloud computing means many things to many businesses, and organizations will generally view the cloud in whatever way they’re currently using it.
Widening that view, however, can expose your enterprise to wonderful new avenues for cost savings and efficiency gains.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of different computing services over the internet, including databases, software, servers, and analytics. Instead of maintaining physical data centers and servers, you access storage & computing power as needed from a cloud provider.
Top Benefits of Cloud Computing:
- Usability and accessibility of information
- You don’t have to be in IT to run your business
- Infrastructure lifecycle is no longer a concern
- Streamlining applications and processes
- Elasticity and geo-displacement
- Business continuity
- Happier and more satisfied workers
1) Usability and accessibility of information
We define cloud as outsourced access to data and services that are available anytime, anywhere. One of the key benefits of the cloud is that (assuming you have the appropriate credentials), you can access the systems and data you need from a beach chair in the Bahamas.
With the cloud, you can look at your daily work calendar as you’re eating breakfast, or have it read to you by Alexa or another voice assistant.
Whereas not too long ago you were required to be at your workplace and on a work-owned PC to access critical information for your job, with the cloud, you can do your job from anywhere, and on any device.
2) You don’t have to be in IT to run your business
The cloud allows your business to utilize third-party hardware and software and escape from the heavy cost of having to run, maintain and secure those things yourself. As a result, you can reallocate a great amount of technology resources into departments more focused on growing your business.
The Shared Responsibility Model provided by all of the major public cloud providers allows you to decide how much control and flexibility you need to meet your business objectives, whether that is at the:
- Hardware level (Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS),
- Application development space(Platform as a Service, or PaaS), and/or
- Line of business or functional software applications (Software as a Service, or SaaS)
You don’t need to buy and maintain any of these things on-site anymore to start/keep a business up and running — you can provision all of it through the cloud and move these costs away from your IT budget.
3) Infrastructure lifecycle is no longer a concern
On-site hardware has a finite lifespan and needs to be continually replaced.
Because of the cloud, more and more CIOs live in a world where they no longer utter the term “end of life” because the infrastructure no longer lives on-site and is not a company asset.
The angst of lifecycle planning and budgeting, where CIOs would present enormous capital expenditures to the board and have necessary upgrades continually deferred, can instead be replaced by a monthly cloud services bill.
The introduction of “serverless” infrastructure has changed the landscape further by eliminating the need to provision at all and charging by actual usage (typically rounded up to the nearest millisecond or second).
4) Streamlining applications and processes
Many organizations today are taking advantage of the huge opportunity available with the cloud to streamline applications and processes to reduce the costs — and migraines — associated with maintaining them.
Cloud migration projects force organizations to rationalize the applications they need to run their business.
Much like going through a spring cleaning, the outcome enables organizations to remove redundant/non-critical business applications and further streamline processes.
5) Elasticity and geo-displacement
In pre-cloud times, businesses had to purchase and maintain enough servers to be able to sustain the maximum workloads that might only occur 10% of the time, resulting in a great amount of wasted capacity.
Today, whether your business is growing or your product sales or services ebb and flow seasonally, you can address challenges by leveraging the elasticity of the cloud to turn user licenses on or off and increase or decrease your compute and storage capacity for data.
You can also spread workloads across multiple data centers in different geographies, which adds protection for your resources in case of disaster.
For most businesses, having a fully fault-tolerant and geo-redundant business application is something that would have been financially unrealistic prior to cloud service providers.
6) Business continuity
Terms like fault tolerance, redundancy, failover, business continuity and disaster recovery all mean having a backup system and an alternative method for accessing your applications and data when something goes wrong.
In the old days, when a server went down, the business went down. Engineers had to scramble to get it running again, with the business losing money for every minute it was offline. Not today.
With the cloud comes the benefit of fault tolerance and business continuity that can be modeled in many different ways. When things go wrong, recovery is now measured in seconds or minutes, instead of the hours or days of the past.
This is vital for every modern business, particularly e-commerce organizations whose livelihoods depend on their products being available all the time.
7) Happier and more satisfied workers
The COVID-19 pandemic completely changed the way we work. Though the initial scramble to transition to remote work proved challenging across every industry, many workers ended up greatly appreciating the flexibility of working from their homes.
Now more than ever, every employee expects the ability to access information and services anytime, anywhere, on any device.
The ability to work from home and on-the-go has had a transformational effect on the workforce and employees’ happiness.
Challenges with Compliance and Security in the Cloud
While the benefits of cloud computing are wonderful, the rising number and severity of data breaches have alarmed consumers and businesses, making security a high priority for every CIO and CISO.
Businesses that accept credit cards are required to follow PCI compliance standards, and an increasing number of businesses are required to meet GDPR and CCPA compliance standards.
Pile these on top of existing compliance measures like SOX and the cloud starts to feel like a minefield.
Every now and then AIM talks to an executive who misses the day when they could go into the back room, unplug the server from the wall and say, “the data is now secure.” But, of course, they can’t do that anymore.
Security and compliance measures are all possible with the cloud, but it requires an additional level of experience and knowledge.
How Can AIM Consulting Help?
AIM Consulting provides cloud consulting services to help you develop a roadmap to understand the greatest benefits of the cloud for your organization.
We can help you navigate the investments you should be making in cloud technologies, help you migrate to cloud platforms, plan for business continuity and disaster recovery, and leverage cloud-based automation tools like Azure DevOps and AWS Pipeline for CI/CD.
Our flexible engagement model allows us to partner with clients to the degree that makes the most sense for them.
Larger consulting firms tend to want to control the show, bringing in entire teams to run things from cradle to grave, or else delivering strategies as reading materials while leaving you without resources to implement them.
While that might work for some engagements, AIM’s clients appreciate our flexibility to deliver from strategy to implementation to maintenance in ways that make the most sense for you and your business.
If you want to discuss your specific situation and unique needs further, contact us today!
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