May 24, 2017

Cloud: The reigning wave of the digital transformation

Ramy Moussa HeadshotBy Ramy Moussa
Solutions Architect
Arrow ECS

 

As the digital transformation continues to unfold in today’s IT world, the role of applications and services are at the center of this progressing wave. Spending on enterprise applications continues to increase, driven primarily by modernization, functional expansion and digital transformation projects.

Much attention is being given to application performance because it directly correlates to business performance – we depend on applications for everything today, whether you’re at a local retail store or a multinational corporation. If applications don’t work, employees can’t work, collaboration doesn’t happen, products don’t get shipped on time, customers can’t be served and transactions can’t be complete. Business is lost.

Application performance directly impacts business performance in every way.

So the question is, should I keep the applications on-premises or move them to the cloud?

The Shift to the Cloud

According to Gartner, worldwide cloud services are expected to grow by 28 percent in 2017, with the highest growth coming from IaaS and SaaS. As more and more companies are shifting to public cloud and SaaS solutions and adapting to the many benefits, this technology is no longer novel: it’s becoming the dominant paradigm in IT.

In Computerworld’s Tech Forecast 2017 survey of 196 IT managers and leaders, 79 percent of respondents said they have a cloud project underway or planned.

The move toward the cloud holds a lot of exciting potential. Not only are many organizations able to realize cost savings through not having to run and maintain their own server(s) (or pay a consultant to do so), but also many cloud tools enable new levels of sharing and collaboration, which can transform how we do work.

Faster deployment, ease of scalability, more agility and better services growth are among other core benefits. You will often see these benefits when compute, storage, networking and applications are deployed in the cloud.

With the cloud…

  • A $200 tablet can access your Salesforce and Google apps accounts just as quickly as a $2,000 premium laptop can
  • A cloud computing infrastructure requires a smaller IT staff than a traditional IT setup because your organization won’t be managing the software anymore
  • Staff members working off site can access their work just as easily at home or on the road as they can in the office
  • People working in the same organization might benefit from team collaboration tools, like shared calendars, video conferencing, instant messaging and file sharing via Office 365
  • Solutions are generally greener than traditional IT because they require less in-office IT equipment

Potential Cloud Challenges

Security and availability are still the main concerns that most people have about relying on cloud-based services. You’ve probably heard many high-profile news stories of security breaches in cloud-based services. Although you should certainly think about the implications of a breach in your organizational data, you should also consider that in both cloud-based and on-premises software, many security breaches are attributable to human error.

Cloud computing is still a quickly changing field, and there’s always the danger that a new company might go out of business or have to radically change the service it’s using. A sudden change in service might not be too critical if you were only using the application for a one-time application development project, but it could be disastrous if it is business-critical application. Do you trust your cloud provider?

Reliable connectivity is another critical factor if you rely on public or private cloud services. As more mission-critical work is done on the internet, organizations will need much more bandwidth and few, if any, failures in internet connectivity. If consistent internet access, connection speed or bandwidth are problems for your organization, cloud solutions may not be right for you at this time.

On-premises and hybrid cloud

While cloud-based infrastructure has many advantages, there are some applications that would see little to no cost benefit from migrating to the cloud. This is usually the case when you have invested significant capital in on-premises infrastructure, such as high-performance databases, that are specially configured to support that application.

Other use cases that aren’t candidates for the cloud include emergency services and email for government, state and local organizations. These use cases require compliance with the codes of data protection and security and information laws. For instance, 911 dispatch and traffic control management are examples of data sets that will remain on-premises for now.

Another concern for IT owners is when users simply want to spin up anything anywhere and are only concerned about functionality, not connectivity and security.

There will always be a market for on-premises applications and infrastructure, whether they are for IT organizations, services providers or IT integrators. That being said, I believe the hybrid cloud model is going to be the direction that most enterprises will go in years to come. Enterprise architecture is often so complex that a hybrid cloud solution—where public, private or on-premises infrastructure supports a single application—is a great solution.

Hybrid architectures are especially attractive for large organizations that want to explore the flexibility and scalability of the cloud since enterprises have the option of testing a single tier in the public cloud while maintaining key infrastructure on their private cloud or dedicated infrastructure.

Finally, an important thing to understand about hybrid environments is that they are only as strong as the integrations that unite them. Performance monitoring, regular testing and data ingress and egress procedures will reveal future areas of difficulty and signal when and how to further evolve the application.

In Conclusion…

The cloud shift is happening in different forms, at different speeds and with different drivers. On-premises and hybrid solutions both remain valid options for many different business cases.

Adopting a cloud service for your business can be an effective strategy for a fast-growing company with both security and scalability in mind, though it is important to thoroughly research the advantages and disadvantages a public, private, SaaS or hybrid platform may offer before committing to the change. If you have additional questions about making the transition to the cloud, please contact our experts.