The Cloud (Part 2): Misconceptions and the Need for Strategy
The Cloud (Part 1) in this series presented evidence showing that cloud adoption by UK organisations has increased significantly in recent years. A tipping point has been reached. There is still a long way to go, however, before the full benefits of the cloud are being realised.
For businesses not currently using the cloud, or at an early experimental stage of adoption, popular misconceptions about the cloud are holding back further progress. For organisations moving to a higher level of adoption, there is an urgent need for a more strategic approach to be followed.
Not every cloud implementation delivers intended benefits. Three of the main reasons for this are the lack of clearly defined business objectives, poor planning and implementation.
In Part 2, we dispel some common misconceptions about the cloud, outlining the key steps involved in developing and implementing an effective cloud strategy for your organisation. Future posts will examine each of the key steps in more detail.
The Cloud is a fad
As stated in The Cloud (Part1), eighty-five per cent of UK organisations will be using the cloud within the next two years. Two-thirds would consider moving their entire IT estate to the cloud in the near future. The cloud is certainly not a fad. Organisations who do not migrate to the cloud will become less competitive.
The cloud is expensive/cheaper
Two opposing misconceptions exist here. First, the view that cloud computing is more expensive than on-premise platforms. Second, that the cloud provides a low-cost panacea for overcoming IT budget constraints especially in the public sector. Neither myth is correct.
There is no doubt that the cloud can be cheaper than on-premise platforms, but only when implemented effectively. It is important that a detailed cost-benefit analysis is undertaken to establish a strong business case for migrating to the cloud. This should take into account the total cost of ownership together with the wide range of business benefits to be derived from the cloud, not just direct costs.
The cloud is unsecure/our data is not safe
There is no inherent reason why the cloud is more or less secure than on-premise platforms. Both are vulnerable to attack. The key issue is how vigilantly your network is managed and the efficacy of your security. Security and governance are critical regardless of whether you are hosting in-house or on the cloud. As long as you choose a reputable and well-known provider, cloud-based storage will generally be more secure than keeping your information on-premises. Most data breaches continue to involve on-premise solutions rather than the cloud.
There is also little need to worry about losing your data in the cloud. Cloud platforms, such as Microsoft Azure, are supported by robust back-up and disaster recovery technology. The recent announcement by the company that it has opened three new data centres in the UK should further ease perceived customer concerns relating to data location, sovereignty and security.
The cloud is unreliable
The available evidence would suggest the opposite, with the cloud being more reliable than other infrastructure platforms. Reputable cloud providers invest heavily in infrastructure and support to ensure high levels of performance and availability (98-99% SLA in most cases). Clearly defined processes, advanced 24/7 monitoring capabilities and expert system administration all help to guarantee uptime. An added level of protection is offered through multiple location back-up.
You lose control of your IT infrastructure when in the cloud
A common misconception is that your own IT people lose control when moving to a cloud environment. This is not the case. Even when hosted in the cloud, it is still your internal IT department who manage access, set up credentials, determine rights and restrictions and so on.
In fact, moving to the cloud can increase IT’s control over applications by centralising data, making it accessible to more users across more locations and multiple device types. Generally, your cloud based data and applications can be managed from anywhere on any device.
It is important, however, to choose a cloud based provider who views you as a strategic partner in making it work.
The cloud is just for small business/it does not scale for larger organisations
The cloud is an extremely flexible platform depending on your specific requirements and the type of organisation you are. Implemented effectively, the cloud can be beneficial to companies of all sizes, industries and background. Different deployment (public, private and hybrid) and service models (SaaS, PaaS and IaaS) offer a wide range of solutions for different types of business.
All or nothing
One of the biggest misconceptions about the cloud is that it is ‘all-or-nothing’. In other words, moving to the cloud means completely abandoning your on-premise IT. This is not only untrue but would be a recipe for disaster. An incremental, staged approach to cloud migration can be adopted, taking on new cloud software and solutions over time within the context of a well defined cloud strategy and action plan.
Need for a Strategic Approach
Another misconception is that the cloud fixes everything, that it is a simple panacea for all of your organisation’s IT problems. At Bridegall, we believe strongly in the business benefits that the cloud can deliver – performance, flexibility, dependency, security, costs, business transformation and so on – but only when implemented effectively.
As more organisations in the UK move from the IF of the cloud to the HOW, there is a growing need for a more strategic approach to be adopted. Moving to the cloud is disruptive. It not only transforms your IT infrastructure but is the foundation for digitally transforming your organisation – externally in terms of how you engage with customers, how you derive digital operating advantage internally and indeed in your underlying business model.
This requires a clear vision, strategy and action plan to guide effective implementation.
Future posts in this series, published over the next few weeks, will cover the key steps involved in developing, implementing and managing a successful cloud based strategy for your organisation. Some of the key issues covered will include:
- Agreeing your organisation’s vision and strategy for the cloud.
- Setting business objectives, KPIs and targets.
- Evaluating the options available.
- Key considerations in moving to the cloud – business, applications, data, security, technology.
- Establishing the business case.
- Managing your journey to the cloud – experimentation, migration, transformation.
- Implementation – organisation and people issues, your cloud team, roles and responsibilities, enterprise architecture, security and risk, data.
- Performance measurement
With the aid of case examples, we will also highlight the way in which Microsoft Azure offers a robust solution for all of your cloud needs.
As in previous posts, all comments and feedback are very welcome.