Cloud Computing entails the provision of computing services, including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence, and more, delivered over the Internet. It offers a viable alternative to traditional on-premises data centres. Operating within a cloud environment grants users a user-friendly online portal for conveniently managing computing resources, storage, networks, and applications. This transformative technology offers a multitude of benefits for individuals, businesses, developers, and various other organisations.
Cloud computing wasn't as widely recognised or popular as it is today. However, during the early 2000s, significant milestones occurred in the cloud computing industry. In 2006, Amazon introduced its Elastic Compute (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3). This was followed by the launch of Heroku in 2007, Google Cloud Platform in 2008, Alibaba Cloud in 2009, Windows Azure in 2010, IBM's SmartCloud in 2011, and DigitalOcean, also in 2011. These developments played a crucial role in shaping the emergence and growth of cloud computing as we know it today.
The specific advantages of Cloud Computing may differ depending on the specific type of cloud services employed. However, in general, utilising cloud services eliminates the need for companies to purchase and maintain their own computing infrastructure. This enables them to accelerate project timelines and experiment with ideas without the delays associated with procurement and significant upfront expenses. With the pay-as-you-go model, businesses only incur costs for the resources they actually require, allowing for greater flexibility and cost efficiency.
In recent years, cloud computing has become increasingly prominent and is poised to surpass traditional in-house application and service delivery methods in terms of enterprise tech spending. However, the widespread adoption of cloud services hinges on companies being willing to entrust their data to servers managed by external entities rather than hosting them within their own on-site infrastructure. This shift requires a level of comfort and confidence in the security and reliability of cloud service providers compared to the conventional approach of maintaining data in on-premises servers.
Key Benefits of Cloud Computing
In recent years, cloud technology has become an indispensable component for organisations across various sectors. Serving as a catalyst for growth, the adoption of cloud solutions has completely transformed the way enterprises conduct their operations. It comes as no surprise that the utilisation of cloud services, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS), has experienced consistent growth. According to Gartner, the cloud market is projected to reach a value of approximately $331 billion by 2022 (Gartner, 2019). Numerous market research studies highlight that cloud adoption remains a top priority for CIOs (Flexera, 2019).
Cloud adoption pertains to the process of integrating and utilising cloud computing within an organization. It encompasses various scenarios, such as migrating from on-premises infrastructure to the cloud or incorporating cloud services alongside existing on-premises systems. Here are a few examples of cloud adoption:
A. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Cloud adoption encompasses the utilization of cloud-based infrastructure, including servers, storage, and networking, to host applications and workloads. An illustration of this is an organization opting to use Amazon Web Services (AWS) as the hosting platform for their website. By leveraging AWS's cloud infrastructure, the organisation can benefit from scalability, reliability, and cost efficiency for their online presence.
B. Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Cloud adoption of this nature encompasses the utilisation of cloud-based platforms, such as Heroku or Azure, for application development and deployment. For instance, an organization may choose to employ Platform as a Service (PaaS) to create and launch a new customer relationship management (CRM) system. By leveraging the capabilities of PaaS, the organisation can streamline the development process, benefit from pre-configured tools and frameworks, and deploy the CRM system efficiently on the cloud platform.
C. Software as a Service (SaaS)
Cloud adoption of this kind entails the utilisation of cloud-based software applications, such as Google Workspace or Salesforce. For instance, an organisation may decide to transition from using Microsoft Office to Google Workspace for its productivity requirements. By adopting Google Workspace, the organisation can leverage cloud-based collaboration and productivity tools, such as cloud storage, email, document editing, and video conferencing, provided by Google. This shift allows the organisation to enhance collaboration, streamline workflows, and access productivity tools from any device with internet connectivity.
D. Hybrid cloud
Cloud adoption of this type encompasses the utilisation of a hybrid infrastructure, which combines on-premises infrastructure with cloud services. For example, an organisation may opt to use on-premises servers for specific workloads, such as their accounting software, while leveraging cloud services for other workloads, such as their customer relationship management (CRM) system.
Key Considerations for Adopting Cloud-based Solutions
Transitioning a company's operations to the cloud involves several considerations and preparations. Prior to the migration phase, it is crucial to gather pertinent information about the existing environment, dependencies, servers and applications, licenses, and other crucial factors. Here are several key factors that companies need to address before adopting cloud computing:
A. Security and Compliance
Given the projected trillions of dollars in annual losses from cybercrime, selecting a cloud service provider should prioritize security. It is essential to evaluate their compliance levels, both physical and virtual, including the location of their data centres and adherence to local laws and regulations.
When assessing the security readiness of cloud vendors, it is crucial to verify the validity of their certifications and standards. Additionally, conducting internal and third-party audits or reviewing relevant reports is essential for thorough investigations.
Thoroughly checking the following aspects is crucial:
- Ensure the security infrastructure and adherence to robust procedures by the vendor
- Identify the management and authorisations
- Physical security controls including the process for natural disasters
- Policies for data back-up and disaster recovery
B. Technical Capabilities
The cloud vendor should possess technical capabilities that meet both current and future requirements. Since cloud partnerships are long-term, it is crucial to assess the service provider's future roadmap to ensure their ability to anticipate trends and innovate proactively.
Moving to the cloud primarily aims to save costs, which is an obvious point. However, it is crucial to analyze your organization's current requirements before selecting a cloud pricing model that aligns with your needs.
Consider key factors such as consumption timelines, as long-term contracts or partnerships with cloud vendors often offer better pricing. Assess the flexibility provided by service providers in terms of scaling up or down as per your requirements. Lastly, be diligent in checking for any hidden costs that may be associated with the chosen cloud service.
D. Business Health
The stability of your business relies on the stability of your partners, including your cloud vendor. Therefore, it is crucial to assess the business and financial health of potential cloud partners before making a final decision.
Before selecting a cloud vendor, it is essential to consider their support capabilities. The following support factors should be taken into account:
- Service Level Agreement (SLA) for solving any technical issues
- Access to support (24/7 or 12/5)
- If any, further cost for dedicated resources
When seeking the best service, it is crucial to find a cloud vendor who values your partnership and considers you a valuable client. Additionally, it is prudent to plan an exit strategy in case the collaboration does not meet expectations.
Overcoming Challenges in Cloud Adoption
While cloud computing offers various advantages like scalability and flexibility, it also brings forth new complexities and risks that require careful management. Here are some of the common challenges organisations may face during the transition:
A. Perception of reduced security
While security is often considered a major challenge in cloud adoption, transitioning to the cloud can actually enhance organisational security. Larger cloud vendors possess greater resources to invest in robust security measures, making their services a secure and reliable choice.
Furthermore, cloud providers prioritise the physical security of their hardware infrastructure. They employ measures such as Tier IV data centres, which restrict access to the physical systems hosting the cloud environment. These measures include armed security patrols, controlled access checkpoints with biometric security controls, and continuous closed-circuit television (CCTV) monitoring.
B. The shortage of skilled professionals in managing cloud services
Cloud computing, along with artificial intelligence and big data, is considered one of the most in-demand tech skills according to LinkedIn. However, the availability of skilled workers for cloud services remains a significant challenge. Due to the scarcity of skilled professionals, many businesses face hurdles in building and deploying new cloud technologies. Furthermore, there is an increasing trend of companies adopting multi-cloud deployments.
To ensure seamless implementation and utilisation of cloud technology, companies must prioritise having employees with the necessary cloud computing skills in place before investing in new technologies.
C. Vendor Lock-In
IT departments often worry about vendor lock-in when selecting a cloud provider. Scaling can also pose challenges if the current provider cannot meet the organisation's needs. To address this, adopting a multi-cloud or hybrid approach can be beneficial.
A hybrid approach combines on-premises and cloud vendors/systems, playing a vital role in organisational digital transformation. It facilitates increased speed, scalability, improved quality, and reduced costs.
Future Trends and Challenges in Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has transformed the operations of businesses, offering the crucial elements of flexibility, scalability, and cost savings needed to thrive in a rapidly evolving marketplace. Looking ahead, the ongoing evolution of cloud computing will introduce fresh trends, challenges, and opportunities that will shape the future of the industry.
Cloud computing will serve as a gateway for small and low-tech organisations to access high-end AI solutions, enabling them to utilise advanced ML and AI functionalities that were previously inaccessible without the cloud.
The rise of multi-cloud environments will be a prominent future trend, empowering businesses to reduce costs, enhance performance, and avoid vendor lock-in. By selecting multiple cloud providers, organisations can create customised solutions that meet their unique needs while benefiting from the best services each provider offers.
Edge computing will continue to develop as another future trend. It enables data processing at the network's edge, closer to the devices generating it, instead of relying on centralised cloud processing. This facilitates real-time data processing, faster processing speeds, lower latency, and increased reliability, making it ideal for applications that require immediate data analysis and response.
More and more companies are turning to cloud computing due to its numerous advantages and the positive impact it has on their revenue, security, and collaboration. Implementing cloud solutions allows enterprises to overcome issues commonly faced by on-premises technology users. Cloud computing enables users to access computing resources, storage, and software applications via the internet, eliminating the need for on-premises infrastructure. It provides the flexibility to access and utilise computing resources anytime, anywhere, and on any device as long as there is an internet connection.
Want to work with us? We’d love to hear from you. Reach out, and let’s make something great together.