Digital transformation with four underutilized cloud-based capabilities
Making the most productive use of an organization’s digital resources is a vital ingredient for success in today’s ultra-competitive business landscape. Companies are challenged to extract the maximum value from their data assets when using exclusively in-house computing solutions.
This article will discuss cloud-based solutions and methods businesses can adopt to enhance their organization’s digital transformation. Failure to recognize and act on the potential benefits of these cloud technologies can leave a company struggling to keep up with more proactive market rivals.
How Businesses can Benefit From Cloud Computing
Cloud computing offers many advantages to businesses of all sizes. These benefits can impact virtually every aspect of an organization’s IT environment and have a substantial effect on its bottom line. Following are some of the more important advantages a company can enjoy by implementing or augmenting its use of cloud computing resources.
Organizations may be reluctant to take advantage of cloud solutions when simply considering the upfront costs of the move. This is the wrong way to look at the financial advantages of cloud computing. Over time, the initial capital investment associated with migrating to the cloud will be repaid by a variety of cost-saving measures.
The ease with which a company’s data can be accessed when it resides in the cloud saves the organization time and money. Reliable cloud providers offer storage and functionality on a pay-as-you-go basis, ensuring that businesses are not charged for space or features they are not using.
One of the most compelling advantages of cloud computing is the flexibility it affords businesses. When engaged with a reputable cloud provider, a company can easily address an evolving business landscape by acquiring any resources necessary to meet its objectives. Businesses can obtain more storage, additional compute power, or increased bandwidth on-demand from their provider to immediately resolve their issues.
Security and compliance
Keeping data secure and complying with regulatory standards are becoming increasingly important for companies across all market sectors. In many cases, in-house technical resources are insufficient to effectively address data security and regulatory compliance. Taking advantage of the expertise and cutting-edge technology available from cloud providers can immediately bolster a company’s position regarding security and compliance.
Cloud-based disaster recovery can help companies address the issue of business continuity. Organizations can use cloud resources as part of a comprehensive disaster recovery plan or opt for a complete disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) offering from a cloud provider. The expertise available from the provider and the flexibility to recover to any location are two of the main benefits of performing disaster recovery in the cloud.
Ensuring software updates
Outdated software can be responsible for security flaws that result in sensitive corporate data resources being compromised. Ensuring that all software assets are patched and updated can put a strain on internal IT resources. Cloud vendors are responsible for updating the software they offer customers. This saves companies time and eliminates potential oversights made by in-house personnel.
Gaining a competitive edge
Several aspects of cloud computing come together to provide customers with a substantial competitive advantage over rivals who ignore its potential. Increased internal collaboration afforded by cloud solutions enables companies to address new customer requirements promptly and efficiently. Cutting-edge technologies like big data analytics help uncover lucrative trends that can be acted upon before the competition even identifies them. As a proof point, a recent client case study on a building materials product manufacturer resulted in findings of a 30 percent spike in sales orders when resolving system issues with an SLA of 99.9 percent. This is just one example of how businesses can engage in digital transformation of their business by way of the cloud.
Fostering increased sustainability
Companies can improve their stance on environmental sustainability by migrating some or all of their computing environment to the cloud. Hosting a computing environment in the cloud reduces a company’s carbon footprint and production of greenhouse gasses. Additionally, the virtualization employed by cloud vendors reduces the number of physical hardware components that need to be purchased and eventually thrown away.
What are Some Emerging Trends in Cloud Computing?
Multiple trends should be considered by companies looking to migrate resources to the cloud. Following are some of the most impactful trends that promise to influence cloud computing over the next several years.
- Global spending on cloud services will reach new heights. Gartner predicts that over $482 billion will be spent in 2022. This is a dramatic increase from the $313 billion spent in 2020. IDC suggests that worldwide spending will reach $1.3 trillion by 2025 as companies strive to achieve the benefits of cloud computing.
- Cloud providers are becoming increasingly concerned with addressing climate change and implementing operational solutions to achieve net-zero carbon generation. The innovations vendors have planned should not affect their customers except to the degree they can promote their interest in sustainability.
- The cloud will be a driving factor in the delivery and utility of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. Cloud-based AI will be used to implement intelligent automation, provide deeper insights into business trends, improve security, and enhance data management.
- Hybrid cloud environments are becoming increasingly popular as a way to address complex business demands and objectives. The combination of public and private cloud solutions enables a company to fine-tune its environment to fit its specific needs. Some organizations opt to process sensitive data in private clouds while reserving public clouds for other uses.
- Multi-cloud computing strategies are also becoming more prevalent throughout the business world. Organizations are finding they can leverage the offerings of multiple vendors to achieve an optimal computing environment.
What is the Value of a Multi-Cloud Strategy?
In a multi-cloud computing strategy, an organization uses two or more cloud platforms simultaneously to handle specific components of its IT environment. Spreading the environment among multiple platforms or solutions allows customers to get more value and select the most effective option from competing sources.
Multi-cloud implementations differ from hybrid clouds in their use of multiple public cloud offerings. A multi-cloud strategy can be implemented in several ways. In some cases, the offerings of more than one provider are used to meet business requirements. Another option deploys multiple IaaS or PaaS solutions from the same vendor.
The following benefits can be enjoyed by companies opting for a multi-cloud approach to their computing environment.
- Engaging the most effective solutions -- A multi-cloud approach allows customers to choose the most effective solution for specific IT tasks.
- Eliminating vendor lock-in -- Developing relationships with multiple cloud partners eliminates the risk of being locked into an unproductive solution when others exist and are easily accessible.
- Access to innovation -- Leveraging the cutting-edge technologies of multiple cloud partners allows customers to pick and choose the most innovative and effective solutions for their unique situation.
- Agility -- Multi-cloud environments can be structured to enable workload mobility and agility between compatible cloud computing platforms.
- Enhanced resilience -- Splitting the workload among multiple cloud platforms improves resilience and ensures that if one platform experiences difficulties, the whole environment is not put at risk.
- Competitive pricing -- As with any IT solution, the costs can vary significantly between vendors. It pays to engage multiple platforms in the quest for the lowest prices for reliable service.
Four Underutilized Cloud Computing Technologies
Experts believe, industries adopting digital transformation should be taking advantage of the following four specific cloud computing technologies:
- Autoscaling is an attractive feature of cloud computing platforms that allows customers to scale services up or down automatically. Pre-defined policies inform the systems when more compute, network, or memory is required and provide the necessary resources without customer intervention. Autoscaling can be especially useful in businesses to address the fluctuations of seasonal or cyclical traffic. Resources can be added when necessary and removed when the need no longer exists, saving the customer money and aggravation.
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (ML) -- The insights and functionality provided by AI and ML systems are designed to give businesses a competitive edge when handling big data resources. These systems can perform predictive analytics and improve the customer experience for any company. The computing power necessary to run cutting-edge AI and ML systems is beyond the scope of many in-house data centers. The cloud offers a scalable method of using these technologies effectively.
- Content delivery networks (CDNs) -- A CDN is comprised of a distributed network of servers spread out across the globe or large geographic areas. The purpose of a CDN is to reduce latency when providing content to users. This is done by bringing the content repositories closer to the user’s physical location. Shorter transmission distances equate to faster data access and improved productivity. Cloud resources can easily be consolidated to build a CDN that can address an organization’s specific data delivery needs.
- Serverless computing -- The concept of serverless computing removes the need for customers to see, manage, or interact with physical servers. Everything is managed as code, making it transparent to developers and facilitating the construction of new applications. Customers only pay for the resources they are using and are never charged for idle capacity. The serverless cloud computing model:
- Automatically provisions the necessary computing resources on-demand or in response to an event.
- Scales resources up or down automatically to address demand.
- Scales resources to zero when an application stops running.
While these are certainly not the only services offered by public providers, they are some of the most underutilized and impactful technologies available in the cloud. Businesses interested in digitally transforming their organization should investigate how cloud resources can best be used to address their objectives.
How can Organizations Optimize Their Use of Cloud Resources?
Developing an efficient multi-cloud strategy that makes effective use of the underutilized technologies previously discussed can be a difficult undertaking. Building a sub-optimal environment can wind up being more costly and less productive than envisioned by the organization. It makes sense to get help from experienced professionals when migrating resources to the cloud.
Organizations can work with a cloud vendor’s dedicated account representatives to obtain the most value from its offerings. In the absence of a focused account representative, several types of strategic partners can be engaged to provide guidance regarding best practices that should be followed when contracting cloud services.
These partners include consulting firms, managed service providers, and system integrators. The best results will be obtained when working with partners that have experience within a company’s market sector.
However, they go about it, organizations that want to be competitive need to take advantage of the possibilities of digital transformation offered by the public cloud. The alternative is to languish behind the competition and risk the company’s ability to thrive in the future.
Darren White serves as the practice director for cloud advancement at Synoptek, bringing 25 years of professional experience to the role. At Synoptek, White is responsible for the growth and strategic direction of the company’s public cloud practices and oversees cloud-related development, sales campaigns, migrations, network strategy building, assessments, cost reduction, project management, testing and helping businesses unlock the true value of the cloud.