Last year we had a conversation with the CEO of a $200M insurance wholesale brokerage which had all of their servers on-premise. In the middle of a regular email exchange, the CEO went silent and could no longer find their website except on the Wayback Machine. We did not hear back for two weeks. When we finally reconnected, we learned that severe weather had flooded all of their on-premise servers and brought business operations to a standstill. As a result, for those two weeks, they effectively shut down and lost an estimated $8M in revenue.
Since cloud computing first became commercially viable, it has turned how businesses operate on its head. Rather than having a rack of servers in a closet, companies can access petabytes of computing resources with a flip of a switch. For reference, one petabyte is one million gigabytes, which far exceeds the average company’s uses (nevertheless, it's ready and available). Additionally, it prevents situations like those above where servers can be physically damaged due to severe weather, fire, or other unforeseen events.
If your business still uses on-premise servers, it's time to think about your cloud strategy. Even if you are not involved in your company’s IT on a day-to-day basis, cloud-first provides significant advantages across the enterprise. From sales, to service, to the executive team, leveraging cloud computing can significantly reduce costs, approve service availability, and is secure.
Cloud cost savings
As opposed to setting up your own IT infrastructure, getting started with the cloud is remarkably cheaper. Running and managing your own servers also means you may come across unanticipated expenditures associated with the management and maintenance of the system.
Since the cloud service provider fulfills all your infrastructure needs for a fixed cost, there are no upfront investments. Plus, cloud computing is like another utility service. The cloud provider takes care of all the maintenance and you get everything you need at any point in time for nominal costs.
Redundancies are a massive problem for in-house IT management. For managing your systems, you cannot rely on a single hardware to keep things running. There has to be an alternative hardware to keep things up and running if the system crashes or fails.
Purchasing additional hardware adds to your overall costs. Plus, they require regular maintenance whether or not you use them. Incurring maintenance costs for hardware with no purpose sounds unnecessary.
An inexpensive way to deal with your redundancy requirements is to move to the cloud. Cloud service providers typically rely on multiple data centers and ensure resiliency by replicating your data. Should there be a disaster like a flood, fire, or a system crash, your system will start running again in no time with cloud computing.
Improve service availability
Any cloud services provider worth their salt should be able to give you an accurate estimate of their availability when you ask them. However, if you want to get a solid idea of what a cloud service provider’s uptime for their cloud solution will be, check for:
- Redundant. Cloud platforms that are purpose built for disaster recovery often feature a high level of system redundancy, often by using not one, but two virtual instances to store your apps and data. This helps to ensure a high availability by allowing your apps to run off of the extra instance if your primary has to be taken offline for maintenance or upgrades.
- Cloud Security. One factor that can have a surprising influence on overall uptime for a server is the security of that server. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that modern businesses are under constant threat of attacks by hackers and thieves. These attacks can disrupt cloud services if they get through. However, strong security such as multiple firewalls and antivirus programs can help prevent breaches and keep your cloud available for use.
- Tier IV Data Centers. The data center that houses your cloud provider’s servers can have an enormous impact on availability. For example, a Tier I data center will not have much redundancy built in to prevent IT process disruptions. Tier IV data centers have the built-in backup systems and redundancy to survive a Category 5 hurricane and stay up.
These are a few of the features that can help ensure that your cloud computing service remains available to you for when you need it.
Security and the Cloud
Many organizations have security concerns with adopting a cloud computing solution. After all, when files, programs, and other data are not kept securely onsite, how can you know they are being protected? If you can remotely access your data, then what is stopping a cyber criminal from doing the same thing? Quite a bit, actually.
A cloud host's full-time job is to carefully monitor security, which is significantly more efficient than a conventional in-house system, where an organization must divide its efforts between a myriad of IT concerns, with security being only one of them. And while most businesses dislike considering the possibility of internal data theft, a staggeringly high percentage of data thefts occur internally and are perpetrated by employees. When this is the case, it can actually be much safer to keep sensitive information offsite. Of course, this is all very abstract, so let's consider some solid statistics.
RapidScale claims that 94% of businesses saw an improvement in security after switching to the cloud, and 91% said the cloud makes it easier to meet government compliance requirements. The key to this amped-up security is the encryption of data being transmitted over networks and stored in databases. By using encryption, information is less accessible by hackers or anyone not authorized to view your data. As an added security measure, with most cloud-based services, they can set different security settings based on the user. While 20% of cloud users claim disaster recovery in four hours or less, only 9% of cloud users could claim the same.
Summing it all up
Cloud computing provides a competitive advantage by streamlining how your business operates. Reducing costs, ensuring systems are perpetually available, and managing data securely are all sound reasons to use the cloud. But this list is not exhaustive, as there are many more reasons than are listed in this article.
Sales, marketing, service, claims, shipping, and every business unit within your organization will appreciate the benefits of the cloud. Even if they are not directly involved in it. Here are some additional resources to help you build your cloud strategy: