The cloud is not a new concept; it’s used by many businesses to power a variety of online technology, applications and host infrastructure. But just because one business is using it, doesn’t mean it’s right for another. Whilst it’s easy for us to give you lots of detail on the benefits of the cloud, we recognise that there are also risks and concerns for many customers considering taking the leap.
Transparency is key, in order to make the right decision for your business you need the complete picture. In this piece, we will cover what cloud computing is and what challenges businesses are facing. From our experience these are the top 6 business challenges of moving to the cloud.
- Legacy apps
- Vendor lock-in
- Technical knowledge
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the delivery of services via the internet. By moving physical servers to the cloud business are able to store data, modernise their IT infrastructure and quickly test and deploy new services and applications. The cloud offers a whole host of benefits including agility, mobility, scalability and affordability.
6 business challenges of moving to the cloud
Now we know what cloud computing is and why many businesses are undergoing the digital transformation required to fully embrace the cloud – let’s jump in and cover the top 6 business challenges of moving to the cloud.
1) Security – Our data will not be secure and compliant in the cloud
It’s no surprise this is top of the list. According to the 2020 Cloud Security Report 75% of respondents stated that they were ‘very concerned or ‘extremely concerned’ about public cloud security. Giving up onsite servers and migrating data often feels like a loss of privacy and control. What’s more, strict regulations such as GDPR have made businesses more accountable for the protection of sensitive information. The penalties for non-compliance, not to mention the reputational damage, are enough to make any organisation think twice about outsourcing their data storage to a third party.
Yet this one shouldn’t be a dealbreaker. The cloud has come a long way since its early inception. The big three cloud providers; Amazon, Microsoft and Google have listened to the concerns of customers and created solutions that are secure by design. Customers now have complete control over which data servers store their information as well as the ability to fine tune access controls, encrypt, and monitor for real-time security information.
Choosing a partner that understands your business can go some way to easing your doubts. A good cloud partner will be able to recommend the right model, applications and features to suit your business and provide the assurance that your data will be secure.
75% of respondents stated that they were ‘very concerned or ‘extremely concerned’ about public cloud security.
2) Cost – We would rather stick with a Capex budget
Understanding the costs involved is one of the biggest challenges of moving to the cloud. It comes down to capex vs opex. By moving to the cloud you are essentially moving from a capex model, whereby you’ve paid for all servers and technology upfront, to an opex model where you pay on subscription, either monthly or annually. All cloud providers work on an opex model.
Pros and cons of Capex
- The business owns all equipment
- Payment is made upfront and is not an ongoing cost
- Better visibility and control over IT budget
- If your business upsizes you will need to buy more servers
- If your business downsizes you might be left with technical debt that you can’t shift
- You are responsible for maintenance of on-premise equipment – if something breaks it is a cost to the business
- Capex budgets take longer to get approved
- There are other costs related to on-premise servers including power supplies, maintenance, warranties
Pros and Cons of Opex
- Flexibility to increase or decrease server capacity means you pay for what you need
- Pay monthly or quarterly freeing up budget for other projects
- All maintenance and upgrades are the responsibility of the cloud provider
- The cost for all hardware and infrastructure is included in your monthly payment
- If your budget is tight and you can’t afford to pay your cloud services could be switched off
- You have less control over service levels
As a result of using a cloud approach, nearly 80% [of surveyed IT pros] said they’re saving money, seeing more productivity and better security.
3) Legacy Apps – We have legacy apps that can’t be moved to the cloud
Technology is developing fast. As a result some organisations have found themselves with legacy software and applications that simply cannot be moved to a virtual cloud environment. In these instances, where legacy systems are critical to businesses, a move to the cloud might be an unattainable step.
That said, all businesses that want to survive and maintain competitive advantage should be looking at ways to modernise their IT infrastructure. As an increasing number of businesses take their services online and switch to Software as a Service (SaaS) models, those that don’t innovate risk falling behind. For most businesses stuck with outdated technology, the move to the cloud is a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’.
4) Downtime – We can’t guarantee that there won’t be any downtime
When technology fails your business suffers. In a world that’s ‘always on’, we’ve come to expect instant gratification and any disruption or downtime is intolerable. By hosting your IT infrastructure in the cloud you are reliant on the cloud providers ability to ensure there is no interruption to service. If a problem does arise you no longer have control over the downtime experienced. Instead you will need to wait for updates and a resolution to the issue.
AWS and Azure take up over half of the cloud market share, it is therefore in their best interest to provide a reliable service. However that is not to say that the responsibility isn’t shared. Cloud providers will take care of the underlying hardware and infrastructure but it is up to businesses to manage encryption and access management.
There are some simple steps you can take to guarantee you never experience downtime:
- Design your cloud infrastructure with high availability and disaster recovery in mind
- Spread your services across multiple availability zones
- Choose the right partner and the right plan e.g. 24/7 support and SLAs with guaranteed uptime and back-ups
- Make sure your disaster recovery is aligned with business objectives
- Ensure you have a reliable Internet Service Provider (ISP)
5) Vendor Lock-In – We don’t want to be locked-in to one cloud vendor
It is not unusual for technology businesses to make themselves ‘sticky’ – just think about Apple’s business model. By providing applications, features and devices that are only compatible with other Apple equipment, they have become market leaders with a loyal customer base who continue to come back to them.
Cloud providers offer a whole suite of technologies which enable you to quickly build, test and deploy applications. Whilst this makes it easy for businesses to innovate fast and implement new services, before you know it you’ve used features and tools that suddenly make it very difficult to switch applications from one cloud provider to another should you need to.
The only way to ensure this never happens to your business is to design with cloud architecture best practices in mind. In addition, working with specialist application vendors can also ensure your apps are modular and portable.
6) Technical Knowledge – We don’t have the expertise in house to feel confident moving to the cloud
The IT skills gap is a constantly evolving dilemma. As new technology enters the market, finding, hiring and retaining employees with the necessary skills can seem like an impossible task. In some businesses the lack of technical knowledge can create a barrier to cloud adoption. IT employees may feel they do not have the skills to choose the right vendor and may resist entertaining cloud initiatives in favour of ‘doing things as they have always been done’.
This risk averse approach very rarely supports a company’s growth plans and vision for the future. To overcome these barriers businesses must look to specialist multi-cloud providers and IT Strategists who can tailor solutions to their business needs.
We understand that migrating to the cloud can be daunting and it may not be the right step for all businesses. Security, cost, legacy apps, downtime, vendor lock-in and technical knowledge are challenges that businesses must overcome and prepare for before they commit to the cloud.
However, with the right partner supporting you and the expert advice of trusted cloud architects, cloud technologies can give your business the freedom to create bespoke tools, design tailored applications and grow IT infrastructure with ease.
How can Conosco help?
At Conosco, we start every cloud project by understanding your business needs and long-term goals. We’ll then ensure you have the most reliable and high performing technology to help you fulfil your aspirations. With the help of our Strategic Consultants and Cloud Migration Specialists we’ll support you as you lay the foundations for better collaboration, modernised infrastructure and greater agility in the cloud.