Nick Williams from Sapphire Systems sets the record straight on cloud concerns
We’ve definitely reached the age where cloud is king. With Gartner predicting the global market for cloud to reach $176 billion in 2015, increasing to $240 billion by 2017, and with 90% of all UK businesses expected to be using at least one cloud service by the end of this year , you can see why it’s no exaggeration to say that the cloud is definitely here to stay.
Believe it or not, cloud solutions have been around in various forms since the 1990s, and although the core value proposition of easy provisioning, flexible scaling and lower total cost of ownership (TCO) has remained the same, the cloud solutions of today couldn’t be more different to the early solutions. Successful brands such as Netflix, Pinterest and Etsy have built entire businesses in the cloud, however there are still some organisations that remain unconvinced and are yet to take off into the blue and adopt a cloud solution in some shape or form. These sceptics are primarily put off even putting an initial toe into cloudy waters due to two main concerns – cost and security.
When it comes to cost, some businesses are wary due to the perceived high financial outlay that’s involved in going to the cloud. Understandably, if a company has invested heavily in its own IT infrastructure and spent precious cash on costly data centres, the idea of turning this all off and starting again in the cloud might be a difficult one to swallow. In reality, organisations using cloud solutions have quickly achieved significant cost savings that actually increase over time because of the reduction in indirect costs that are symptomatic of on-premise software.
The savings don’t stop there. Moving to the cloud will reduce your IT overheads as your requirement for in-house technical knowledge will be minimised, plus your IT staff will be freed-up to concentrate on more strategic, value-add activities. This will lead to inevitable efficiency savings and the potential cost savings these can bring, not to mention the ability to stay ahead of the competition who haven’t yet woken up to the benefits cloud can bring.
In terms of the security concerns, ever since the first cloud solutions, security was generally perceived to be the biggest cloud threat, with the potential risk of others being able to access key information seen as too problematic for many organisations to stomach. However these concerns have since proved to be unfounded, with a recent study finding that SMEs have actually seen increased security benefits since moving to the cloud. Many cloud providers have ensured that security takes centre-stage of their overall proposition, hosting data in ISP 27001 accredited data centres and making full use of back-up secondary data centres, alongside a plethora of other measures which go over and above security that’s in place for most on-premise solutions.
That’s not to say that there aren’t different degrees of security out there, and it’s still down to the individual business to rigorously evaluate the different providers, ensuring they adopt the same (or even higher) standards than those that already exist within the business. Also, a good cloud provider should ensure its data centre is a Tier 3 category service centre, one which provides exceptionally high levels of resilience and a system availability of 99.982%.
Even after allaying fears of cost and security, the one main hurdle that some organisations cannot come to terms with is the idea that they need to transfer their IT infrastructure, lock, stock and barrel, to the cloud. In reality, very few organisations go ‘full cloud’ in the short term, preferring instead to adopt a more incremental approach of a combination or hybrid model encompassing cloud and on-premise systems.
Quite at odds with perceived cloud concerns, the flexibility and scalability of cloud affords organisations the ability to gain better control of their costs through lower TCO, all with the added security that only partnering with a cloud provider can bring. Add to this the fact that any transition to cloud can be done at your own pace and you can see why savvy businesses are asking ‘when’ instead of ‘if’ when it comes to the cloud.
Find out more about how your organisation could benefit from hosting its software in the cloud.
 Vanson Bourne on behalf of the Cloud Industry Forum
 Randy Perry, IDC Whitepaper, ‘The Business Value of Amazon Web Services Accelerates Over Time’, December 2013
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