Dipping a Toe into Cloudy Waters
Stuart Anderson, General Manager at Pegasus Software looks at the current appetite for cloud and examines why hybrid approaches appear to be the winners in 2019
There’s no doubt that the cloud is definitely here to stay. It’s predicted that $1.3 trillion of IT spend will be affected by a shift to the cloud by 2022, with an estimated 28% of spending within enterprise IT markets moving cloud-ward as well. So although the cloud isn’t showing any sign of dissipating any time soon, the way in which businesses are choosing to make use of the cloud can vary a great deal. For many start-ups, it’s a case of full cloud from day one, whereas some more traditional businesses are taking a more incremental approach dipping their toes in cloudy waters to not only see how it feels but also because they’ve already invested heavily in an in-house IT infrastructure which they can’t afford to abandon. But as adoption rates increase, is it right for everyone?
When it comes to on-premise, it’s all done in-house. So, hardware and software are hosted, maintained and managed on the business premises, with the company’s own staff, IT infrastructure, servers and resources used. All data is held on the business’s servers, behind their own firewalls, making it a popular choice for highly-regulated industries as the business is in total control of its own data at all times. While this approach is working well for many businesses, with their systems and solutions doing exactly what they should, as the pace of business and technology grows faster by the day, for many, they’re finding that the on-premise approach is being stretched to its limit. Consider that in-house staff are responsible for managing any downtime, any issues and any upgrades, as well as the costs that these incur, and you can see how quickly things (and costs) can escalate. This pressure, in terms of potential inefficiencies and potential spiralling costs, is motivating more and more businesses to look to the cloud for help, increasing efficiency and freeing-up IT staff to focus on other, more strategic activities.
Cloud, on the other hand, is where solutions are hosted remotely by third parties. Your business then has access to these solutions, in real-time, as and when needed, only paying for the resources you use. So this means no more paying out for maintaining servers and hardware, and no more costly and time-consuming updates and upgrades, as these are all handled by the cloud service provider as well. And, as your business develops and grows, your service provider will also take care of scaling-up any solutions as necessary.Initial security concerns over the cloud are disappearing too, as more and more businesses recognise that the security measures on offer in the cloud could well be more stringent that those on-premise, especially for SMEs where budgets need to stretch further. The same can be said for compliance concerns as well, with cloud service providers often responsible for multiple businesses and therefore making it their business to provide top-notch data monitoring capabilities, alongside regular automated updates for legal and regulatory compliance.
So, if this is the case with the cloud, then why aren’t all businesses heading straight for the cloud now? Many businesses have invested heavily in their existing IT infrastructure and obviously aren’t keen to abandon this investment, particularly if it’s working well for their business at this moment in time. What we are seeing though is businesses assessing which solutions are best for them, incrementally moving certain functions and solutions to the cloud. This hybrid route uses a combination of cloud and on-premise approaches, in-line with what works best for that specific business. Rather than focussing on how the technology is delivered, the most effective results are often achieved by taking a long hard look at what the technology can actually do for the business.
The pace of technology change is accelerating at an unprecedented pace, so regular reviews which focus not only how software supports business processes, but the associated cost and delivery of those, are crucial. It might be that Cloud will work best in a two, or even five year time frame. For areas which require new capabilities, and are not constrained by legacy hardware, cloud might be the best option. It’s only by undertaking regular and rigorous audits that businesses can ensure they take the right approach, choosing the optimum combination of on-premise and cloud delivery to future-proof their business while fulfilling their true business potential.