Why move to the cloud?
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that committing to the cloud is an all-or-nothing gamble. It's not.
Think of it as a transition from the traditional focus of choosing the hardware and software to put in your office, to supporting your business operations towards a more service-based approach where you access the applications, storage space or processing power you need online. You control the cloud and its provides your business with the tools it needs, as it needs them.
We've previously discussed why the hurdles before cloud adoption are falling but now we take a closer look at public and private clouds and how they can work for your business.
Product to service
Testing and development, data processing and website hosting are areas where many businesses have been willing to transition to the cloud. Public cloud services like Amazon Web Services (AWS) show their strength by providing these services with the ease-of-use, accessibility and raw power to get the job done. AWS offers these services without the great initial outlay required by on-premise solutions.
Businesses around the country have proved to be a bit more risk averse however when it comes to migrating core business applications like ERP systems or practice management applications into a hosted environment, citing trust and data sovereignty concerns.
In many ways, small and medium business operators are in a strong position to take advantage of this product to service transition, without the extra baggage of legacy systems and lengthy buying cycles that can hold larger enterprises back. So what issues should you be thinking about when considering the move to hosted applications?
Gaining trust in public cloud services can be difficult to establish, with issues like vendor lock-in and security the biggest roadblocks to adopting the cloud.
Listing out compliance and security policies can help, but a strong history of secure services and case studies give confidence to businesses. Large businesses like Commonwealth Bank and NAB began using the public AWS cloud years ago and now, after their success, others like Suncorp are following suit. With issues like vendor lock-in and security not being exclusive to cloud solutions the cloud becomes a more appealing option.
A key difference between public and private clouds is where the data is hosted. Both can be accessed anywhere but unlike private clouds, you don't control the hardware running your public cloud environment. This leads to concerns over who has access to your business' data and what jurisdictions have authority over it.
Many multinational cloud providers now allow their customers to choose which country their subscribed services will be hosted in, including AWS with their Sydney launch in 2012. In the wake of the Snowden leaks, American companies are increasingly making efforts to ensure their international customers data sovereignty remains intact. Just recently Microsoft denied a US court order for access to emails held on servers run by the company located in Ireland, a move supported by Apple and Cisco.
Addressing these concerns when selecting a provider before adopting the cloud can go a long way to avoiding later issues.
Whether you're considering the leap to hosting critical business applications in the cloud, or simply dipping your toe in the water of online backup, one thing is clear - cloud services are here to stay. How well they can work for you will depend on how well you do your research to make informed decisions with a provider you trust. If you would like to learn more about public or private cloud services, and the opportunities and challenges they present for your business, contact your Sentrian Client Services Manager.