The cloud has quickly become central to the way many organisations operate, with new software solutions enabling companies to take advantage of more flexibility, integration and more inexpensive pricing than anyone could previously have imagined. Compared to using your own hardware or external data centres, the cloud offers greater responsiveness, better security, more flexibility, reduced infrastructure charges and great new ways of working to engage staff and increase productivity.
The upcoming cloud trends
According to Network World (https://www.networkworld.com/article/3233134/cloud-computing/5-cloud-computing-trends-to-prepare-for-in-2018.html) the five trends in cloud are:
Continuing exponential growth
Increased cloud storage capacity
The Internet of Everything will become a key focus, delivered via the cloud
Enhanced internet quality and the start of 5G
Security challenges and data security will remain a key focus
Migrating to the cloud
Migrating to cloud software is an important process for businesses to consider. Small migrations, for example, from desktop to cloud word processing for your staff can be pretty simple and pain free. Office 365 is a good example of popular cloud software, but it's worth understanding where your data is stored if data sovereignty is a requirement for your organisation. Many users don't realise their data is running through overseas servers and stored in foreign databases.
Sometimes a cloud migration can turn into a really expensive and complicated headache, for example if you want to take your current enterprise/legacy products into the cloud. Over the course of two years here at Yarris, a large internal team working with capable external consultants moved three large workflow applications (telco construction, car repair and legal services) from a data centre, to a private cloud, then migrated to the public cloud. It was complex, expensive, time consuming and required a very large amount of development work. Ultimately the project was a substantial success for us and a significant ROI was achieved within 18 months but not without tears.
Regardless of whether businesses are looking to migrate their own applications, use provider offerings in the cloud, upgrade their existing locally hosted software, understanding the process for migrating to the cloud is very important. Some considerations include:
The needs and requirements of your organisation and customers
The level of complexity of the product you're wanting use or migrate
Your organisation's appetite for change and innovation
Determining your return on investment
The expense of the migration: design, people, time, complexity, delays
Ongoing cloud charges
The skill level of your current staff
The three largest cloud providers, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform provide a range of services and tools to support your cloud journey and the maintenance and security once you've migrated. Each time you add services the cost increases, however, so understanding the relative value of additional services is key to not blowing your IT budget. You can also purchase cloud services in bundles, or as 'reserved instances' for a 6 month or 12 month duration, further reducing the charges.
Choosing cloud software for your business
Choosing any new piece of software requires careful consideration of how existing internal processes might be improved. Any implementation of a cloud solution has to be structured around the specific business objectives a company has in order to deliver a project that truly adds value. This was underscored by a study published last year by Research and Markets into the state of SME cloud uptake. According to the research, small business investment in cloud technology has grown exponentially. However, the report stated that SMEs in particular are proving sensitive to the return on investment from these services, choosing those that fit within their existing business strategies. Larger organisations have taken to the cloud in droves, usually to reduce costs and standardise security arrangements.
Using consultants to migrate to the cloud
Capable consultants can be engaged to assist you in your migration or launch, but they do not come cheaply. Specialised Devops consultants are amongst the most expensive and in demand of all technical leaders. Their responsibility should be to both lead the transformation and upskill your staff so you are not left dependent and impotent.