Cloud computing — the idea of storing your applications, your data, and pretty much everything else your business uses to operate in ‘the cloud’ rather than on your own internal network — is continuing to dominate IT trends all across the world. In fact, Forrester Insights predicts that more than half of all enterprises will come to rely heavily upon cloud computing in one of the biggest IT shifts of all time.
What is Cloud Transformation?
Cloud transformation forms a significant part of the overall ‘digital transformation’ trend; a growing interest in moving traditional, outdated, and manual business processes to online platforms. This trend is facilitating the creation of more reliable IT infrastructures, enabling companies to focus more on their core business functions (which in many cases won’t necessarily be IT-related), and leaving the IT ‘housekeeping’ side of things to the experts. For a small business this can be hugely advantageous.
Essentially, cloud transformation is the act of migrating internal processes and applications to a cloud-based server, utilizing off-site cloud solutions for better performance and cost savings. A cloud transformation could mean you begin hosting your own software in the cloud, or making use of cloud-hosted software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications from a wide variety of SaaS providers.
A cloud transformation seems like the obvious solution for many, so why are some businesses still failing to adopt this growing trend? The answer is simple: as with any technology, there are risks, and these risks obviously mean that it’s important to consider implementing the changes carefully. Security risks are currently a major concern with cloud computing, as are risks associated with provider disaster; the inability of a SaaS provider to continue offering a service due to issues such as bankruptcy, for example.
Fortunately, as these issues are becoming more apparent, solutions are being introduced. Software escrow agreements have been introduced, for example, to ensure businesses have access to applications in the event that their provider is unable to continue offering services, while cloud security has become a firm focus recently, with cloud vendors making changes to their policies, technologies, and controls.
Do I Need To Adopt a Cloud Approach?
While there are risks associated with cloud computing, the benefits of a cloud transformation of a business can far outweigh these uncertainties. So do you need to adopt a cloud approach? Probably.
There is a common misconception that the cloud is really only suitable for larger businesses; an idea born from the fact that bigger enterprises (and, therefore, those with higher budgets) were among some of the first to undertake full cloud transformations. However, the benefits of cloud computing for small and medium sized businesses can be significant. Here are some reasons why cloud may work for you:
1. You Employee a Small Team
A common issue for small and medium businesses is finding the right balance between managing internal housekeeping and conducting client-facing tasks. A cloud transformation means your applications are managed, updated, installed, and backed up automatically with no need for manual input from your IT team, freeing up your valuable internal workforce for greater productivity.
2. You Offer a Comprehensive Service
As can happen with small and medium businesses who don’t have the fortune of separate departments to handle different processes, you may find you need to offer a comprehensive service covering a wide range of areas. This can make buying the relevant software for each task a costly experience, especially if it isn’t something you’ll use often. Cloud-based SaaS solutions are aimed to directly address this issue.
3. You Use a Variety of Applications
If you’re using different apps for your email, calendar, scheduling, presentations, documents, accounting, and so on, then chances are you’re not working particularly efficiently. Separate apps increase admin time and also creates disconnect in the way you work; no syncing, no collaboration, no simplicity. An all-in-one cloud platform is designed to consolidate your apps into a single, user-friendly interface.
4. You Have a Small Premises
With a full cloud transformation you may be able to reduce the system hardware your business needs in order to operate. With a minimized need for file storage, software applications, and backup data space on your own internal servers and computers, it may be possible to redistribute hardware across the company, or even get rid of it all together creating massive savings on server cooling systems.
However, a cloud transformation at this time may not be the right move for each and every business. If you’re asking yourself ‘do I need a cloud transformation?’ then consider that there are situations in which it may be better to wait. Here are some reasons why a full cloud transformation may not be right for your particular business at this moment, but could still bring multiple benefits in the near future:
5. You’re a Young Business
If your business is very new and you haven’t quite got everything up and running just yet, consider the damage that downtime could do. If you’re working with a temporary, low cost, unreliable internet connection for example, relying on a connectivity-based cloud solution isn’t the most sensible idea!
6. You Don’t Need The Latest Software
At some point down the line, having the latest version of your software will enable you to offer the best possible experience for your clients, and keep up with the competition. But if you don’t need it right now, keep in mind that running desktop applications is often the cheaper option in the long term.
7. You’re Undecided
If you haven’t quite found your ‘forever’ applications yet, don’t be tempted to jump head first into a complete cloud transformation. Some cloud-based apps can make it tricky (if not impossible) to migrate your data to alternative platforms, so be sure you’re happy with your software before transforming.
Adopting a Cloud Approach
While there are some instances where a business may not need a cloud transformation just yet, in many cases utilizing cloud technology can bring big benefits for businesses, especially small and medium sized enterprises who are considering a digital transformation. Moving towards cloud computing is easier than you may think: simply assess, plan, adapt, and optimize, taking care to minimize the risks as you go!
Editor’s Note: The writer’s opinions expressed in this guest article are those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of IT Security Central and Teramind Co.