How much should businesses be spending on cloud computing?
Cloud computing has unleashed a tidal wave of change over the last decade, lowering barriers to entry and enabling businesses from startups to multinationals to become more agile and more efficient. Based on this potential, the technology has become ubiquitous – and 94% of IT professionals have now adopted private and/or public cloud.
The sky’s the limit
The application that has likely had more impact than any other is the advent of scalable hosting. Businesses traditionally had to acquire servers that could manage their maximum annual traffic load – but which would only be used at a fraction of their potential for the vast majority of the time. Cloud hosting, on the other hand, means that organizations only pay for what they need, when they need it – but they can rapidly scale up based on demand.
This capability sits alongside the evolution of software into SaaS (Software as a Service) and the development of cloud storage. These innovations mean that programmes and data are no longer locked onto a single machine but they can instead be accessed remotely and ubiquitously from whatever device is needed. This flexibility is a key component of the Digital Workplace, allowing staff to communicate with customers and colleagues, no matter their location, and enabling them to work in a dramatically more efficient manner.
This upside doesn’t mean that the change is easy, though – and managing cloud migration has been a key challenge for businesses setting out on the digital transformation process.
The first step to cloud adoption is establishing the structure that is right for your organisation – for example, whether to opt for public cloud or private cloud; and then whether functions need to be split across a multi-cloud environment or if there’s a need for hybrid cloud, also incorporating owned and operated servers.
“There have never been as many ways to use cloud services wherever you need them – behind your firewall, in a globally distributed public cloud, at a managed hosting provider, and at the edge on connected devices,” writes Dave Bartoletti, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester. “We’re truly just getting started.”
However, when it comes to complexity, there’s also serverless computing, which allows organisations to do without infrastructure, operating systems or servers and to simply rely on a third-party service provider.
Given that there’s rarely a single right answer, multi-cloud solutions are now becoming more common – 84% of enterprises told RightAtScale that they had a multi-cloud strategy while 58% were pursuing a hybrid approach (with the average organisation using five clouds).
Meanwhile, Azure and Google Cloud are presenting increasingly stiff competition to AWS. As a consequence of all this, organisations considering the migration process can reap dividends from employing cloud experts from the planning stages onwards. Two thirds of enterprises now have a cloud centre of excellence and/or a central cloud team; and their greatest challenges are identified as being optimising cloud costs and cloud governance (both at 84%). Of course, there’s also demand to move more workloads to the cloud, while also making better use of cloud resources.
“As organisations embrace a hybrid multi-cloud approach, IT organisations will undergo a culture shift in the way that they work,” writes Steve Robinson, General Manager of IBM Hybrid Cloud. “Job titles such as cloud architect, cloud project manager, cloud service broker and cloud automation engineer will become increasingly common to manage emerging hybrid cloud environments.”
A common concern for companies making the shift is cybersecurity – and systems that can be remotely accessed do naturally come with vulnerabilities. What’s more, organisations that attempt to simply port over their server structure to cloud are likely to leave themselves open to attack. If cloud native security tools are used to their full potential, and standard security procedures are followed, it’s perfectly possible to set up robust defences. Yet, while there is an increasing demand for security specialists and CISOs across the board, individuals with expertise in both cybersecurity and cloud management are likely to be in high demand in the coming years.
Looking ahead, while migration may be a difficult process, cloud provides a multitude of benefits for organisations of all sizes, and it is a crucial stepping stone on the journey towards digital transformation. Meanwhile, the focus of the future will on be managing and securing the cloud – a challenge that will no doubt require a large number of boots on the ground.
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