Cloud adoption is continuing to pick up speed, with businesses of all sizes moving towards hosted technology solutions. The numerous benefits of making the switch to the cloud appeal to a wide range of industries, and leave many businesses eager to leave their on-premise solutions behind. However, there have been a few hiccups along the way for a lot of these businesses, especially where their important apps are concerned.
The cloud’s versatility and flexibility make it an ideal platform for many of the resources and tools businesses rely on, but the fact of the matter is that no two businesses have the exact same needs or existing infrastructure. Certain compliance or regulatory guidelines can also limit a business’ ability to leverage the cloud successfully.
Requirements that dictate where and how data can be stored – such as restrictions tied to certain government contracts – can make transitioning to the cloud a more difficult process. But that’s not to say that the cloud isn’t an option.
A typical cloud migration sees an infrastructure move from on-premise systems and servers to a cloud platform in stages, offering an incremental upgrade that won’t hinder operations by taking huge chunks of your IT environment offline or leaving your staff to relearn a bevy of basic tasks in a short amount of time. Businesses that have restrictions placed on certain data or applications can still move other pieces of their operations to the cloud without jeopardizing compliance.
Client data may need to be restricted to a secure on-premise server, but internal back-office data and applications such as accounting, human resources, and legal can be moved into the cloud. Your business can still move from legacy systems to software as a service (SaaS) and benefit from the cost savings, mobility, and scalability the cloud has to offer while still meeting your obligations to your clients.
This balancing act of sorts between on-premise and the cloud isn’t limited to compliance restrictions. Those providing municipal services such as the Department of Transportation can redistribute resources in a way that makes growth and innovation a smoother process. Back-office functions can be shifted to the cloud along with other non-critical applications in order to allow mission-critical data and programs to be stored and maintained on secure on-premise servers and systems. A hybrid on-premise/cloud solution can also be used in this scenario to support better scalability and allow for the adoption of platform as a service or infrastructure as a service down the road.
While most cloud providers offer built-in cyber security measures as part of their offerings as well as round-the-clock monitoring and maintenance of your virtual servers to prevent intrusions or data loss, some data can be considered too sensitive to trust to the cloud. For some businesses, the fact of having to collaborate with an outside provider to manage IT security is something they’re simply not comfortable with. For others, it may be slightly more complicated. Applications that, for example, control municipal resources such as traffic lights or waste water release require a level of protection from potential hackers that is, for the moment, better provided by an on-premise system.
Data that needs to be accessed quickly and at a moment’s notice may also be a poor candidate for cloud storage. Despite the extremely high up-time guarantee offered by most cloud providers, there is always a chance that access could be delayed by a minor service disruption, whereas data stored on-premise would remain accessible.
For many businesses that either cannot or are not comfortable with trusting their mission-critical data and applications to a cloud solution, the cloud still offers an invaluable service – data backup and business continuity.
Your day-to-day operations might function based entirely on an on-premise infrastructure, but data and applications that are backed up to the cloud provide businesses with the ability to work around disruptions that would otherwise see their operations grind to a halt. In the event of a fire, flood, or storm that leaves your office inaccessible or damages your on-premise hardware, the cloud allows for offsite disaster recovery.
Businesses that are fully open to moving to the cloud may find themselves facing challenges of their own. Adopting a cloud solution based entirely on functionality without considering connectivity or security can lead to major headaches. It’s important to remember that while there are numerous applications designed to work in the cloud – or designed specifically for the cloud – not every legacy application can integrate with cloud technology seamlessly, or at all.
Taking the time to plan out your cloud migration carefully will give you better results, and save you the cost and frustration of having to revert back to on-premise solutions. When done right, most businesses that adopt cloud technology stay with it long-term. Knowing which applications are best suited to the cloud, which applications need to be moved together to boost performance, and how your team relies on and uses resources will help your cloud migration to be a successful one.
The key to benefiting from the cost savings the cloud can offer is being smart about how and when you begin to move away from on-premise solutions. A business that is relying on onsite hardware that is ten years old and in need of constant maintenance will likely see a huge boost in productivity and efficiency along with a reduction in IT costs by moving applications out of their on-premise data center. A business with relatively new technology powering its infrastructure wouldn’t see as dramatic a change in performance or cost, but could still benefit from the added accessibility and speed cloud-based applications can offer.
Something else businesses considering the cloud should keep in mind is their IT department. There is a common misconception that by moving part or all of their infrastructure off-premise, the need for IT personnel decreases. The reality is that your technology is still there. While the day-to-day maintenance tasks associated with onsite technology may not demand the level of attention they once did, your cloud solutions cannot run or maintain themselves. There will be new challenges for your IT staff to take on, and new uses for their skills. Your IT staff can now focus on leveraging your technology to increase performance and productivity, staying on top of upgrades and innovations, and helping your team to make better use of the resources available to them.
There is no right or wrong way to go about implementing cloud technology that applies to everyone. Each business has its own unique needs and goals. Figuring out whether the cloud, an on-premise solution, or some combination of both is the right fit for your business requires taking a look at what your business’ requirements are and discussing your options with your IT department or IT provider.