It’s no secret that cloud has gone beyond personal use for file storage and is making its way into the business world at full speed. Not only has perception around the cloud changed, but so have the use cases. While many still look to cloud-based solutions to meet storage needs, organizations are turning to these solutions to accomplish much more – including staying ahead of the technology curve to compete in crowded industries with fierce competition.
In a recent study, 42 percent of IT decision makers indicated their intention to increase spending on cloud computing this year, with the greatest growth among enterprises with more than 1,000 employees. Organizations are increasingly moving to the cloud because it has proven to be an invaluable tool that helps manage regulatory obligations and ever-growing volumes of big data.
A successful implementation can lead to cost and risk reduction, increased flexibility and convenience, and better scalability and performance. Plus, as any CFO likes to hear, the ROI is measureable. The Open Group, a global consortium that develops IT standards, provides a comprehensive look at various cloud models. This type of overview is helpful when trying to make your case to the C-suite that moving to the cloud is a necessary and cost-effective decision.
IT as a Strategic Differentiator
When many people think of strategic differentiators, they think of things like product attributes, pricing models, and company brand. But a key differentiator that is often missing from this list is IT capabilities. According to an Everest Group survey, 56 percent of enterprises view cloud as a strategic differentiator that enables operational excellence and accelerated innovation.
Although organizations are moving to the cloud, it’s still a highly underutilized technology. When considering migration to the cloud, it is important to take a strategic look at how much data is being migrated, as that can have a critical impact on a migration’s success. A recent Bain & Company survey found that companies, on average, put only 18 percent of their workloads in the cloud. But to realize the benefits of the cloud, around half of the workload, at a minimum, should be in the cloud.
There are general, overarching benefits of the cloud, but no one-size-fits-all solution. Here are some of the most popular types of cloud implementations, along with the benefits of each:
There are two types of public clouds, one for individual use and one for the enterprise.
The individual type includes providers such as Dropbox, iCloud, Box, Google Drive, etc. Personal accounts should never be used for business purposes because of security and potential liability concerns.
In addition to providing free offerings to individuals, some public cloud providers offer paid subscriptions, based on usage, for enterprises. Data is stored off-premises, with little to no control of where it is stored or how it’s managed. This option is best for small- to mid-sized businesses that are not in highly regulated industries and are looking for a quick deployment and lower-cost option.
Like the public cloud, there are two types of private clouds: Internal data centers and managed cloud services. In general, the private cloud is for larger enterprises that deal with highly sensitive information and need a solution that is customizable and extremely reliable. Highly regulated industries tend to fall into this category.
With the internal data center option, data is stored and managed inside the organization’s data center. The biggest selling point for companies that select this option is increased control and security over data. But cost may be a major consideration because it requires more maintenance and in-house IT staff.
In the case of managed cloud services, a third-party and dedicated resources are used to build an environment based on a customer’s needs. Storage, server, and application resources are managed by the cloud provider. The infrastructure is private and purpose built for that organization, and does not comingle other customers’ data in the environment. Managed cloud services meet high security standards, allow for more scalability, and typically are less expensive than private internal data centers in the cloud.
As the name implies, a hybrid option combines resources from both the public and private cloud. For example, frequently used data may stay on site while rarely used data migrates to the cloud. Or more sensitive data may be stored in the private cloud while other information is in a public cloud. This option is gaining popularity among SMBs that need a higher level of security. Organizations that choose the hybrid approach get benefits of both the private and public cloud but don’t fully experience the benefits of either.
This is more of a niche option for a community of companies or a particular industry in which there is a shared interest, such as government agencies, members of trade organizations, or companies within a vertical industry. It may be owned, managed, and operated by one or more of the organizations in the community, a third party, or some combination of them, and may exist on or off premises.
Ready to Implement – Now What?
Because no one option is best for everyone, selecting the right cloud service provider can be a confusing and seemingly overwhelming process. But no matter what the industry or size of the company, there are five top considerations everyone should take into account as part of the decision-making process:
Experience. Does the cloud service provider have a customer base that is in or directly related to your industry, uses the same services proposed, and can be contacted for a reference?
Compliance. Does the cloud provider have experience working and complying with industry or government regulations, such as HIPAA or Dodd-Frank?
Security. Will the cloud service provider be able to protect sensitive data? Is it willing to share security protocols, methodology, certifications, and audits with you?
Pricing. Does the cloud service provider fit within your budget and offer transparent and predictable pricing? Can it provide total cost of ownership that takes into consideration all expenses, including set-up fees, development fees, and subscription costs?
Contracting and SLAs. Don’t assume anything. Does the contract clearly outline SLAs and guarantee specific performance levels for objectives such as availability, search speeds, and disaster recovery?
Like any important decision, picking the right type of cloud and selecting the right provider takes research and time. However, with the right solution, making the transition to the cloud can have huge benefits and a positive impact on the bottom line.
William (Bill) Shute, who joined Viewpointe in 2010, is currently the Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer. He also serves as the president of Viewpointe Clearing, Settlement and Association Services (VPCSAS), a wholly owned subsidiary. Shute brings a 19-year track record of success with senior leadership positions in product, program, and general management, corporate and product marketing, as well as sales and business development. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business/Marketing from California State University, Fullerton – College of Business and Economics and is a graduate of the Defense Language Institute.
Subscribe to Data Informed for the latest information and news on big data and analytics for the enterprise.