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April 18, 2019updated 18 Jul 2019 8:20am

Demystifying the cloud to transform your business

By Dave Strong

Cloud computing has been one of the most talked about business transformation terms of the past few years – and for good reason. In its most simple terms, cloud computing can offer cost-effective, fast and reliable business flexibility for companies of all sizes.

Currently, its market is expected to reach a staggering $411bn [£314bn] worldwide by 2020, with the UK alone set to reach $200bn [£152bn] in 2019. This represents an increase of 20% from 2018, and Forrester analyst Dave Bartoletti has indicated that 2019 looks like it will be the year of widespread enterprise cloud adoption.

Yet, as a business closely involved in supporting companies at various stages of digital transformation, Sopra Steria knows that many organisations are still apprehensive about making the leap. ‘Ripping and replacing’ existing critical lines of business applications is an intimidating process and a lot of confusing and often contradictory language has further clouded the issue.

As it stands, cloud adoption in the UK sits at 41.9%. This means over half of UK businesses are still relying on their legacy systems and are missing out on some of the most significant benefits that can emerge from cloud computing. In order to make an informed decision, it’s important to demystify the nature and benefits of the cloud.

Flexibility

One of the biggest advantages of cloud computing is that it affords organisations flexibility and a way to adapt to a rapidly evolving market place. It allows organisations to make decisions that change the volume of applications and deployments they want, or where they should be serviced, in near real-time.

This flexibility is essential for businesses that want to react to the data they are generating about their operations or customers, and take action without needing to manage the physical realities of on-premise solutions.


Read more: What is Cloud computing and why does it matter to business?


Scaling

In order to build out on-premise systems, organisations often need to purchase additional computing hardware that soon becomes obsolete, costly to maintain or in the case of over-supply, sit unused. Cloud computing offers a route to take on additional capacity to service business demands with agility, without purchasing and managing costly infrastructure that takes excessively long periods to deploy.

The new, nimble, cloud-native businesses have made massive headway over older competitors not just for their knowledge of technology but for their ability to scale at a rate that was previously impractical.

Collaboration

Cloud computing also gives organisations the capability to collaborate more effectively. Unlike physical on-premise solutions – which can often be difficult or slow to access remotely – the cloud can be accessed securely from anywhere in the world allowing a far greater level of company, partner and competitor collaboration.

This allows employees to be more flexible in their work choices and collaborate more effectively with fellow colleagues. We have found this new form of collaboration can also become the catalyst for wider organisational transformation, given how significantly it changes the way in which teams are able to work and innovate across the business.

Cloud for business: Overcoming doubts

For all these benefits, it’s worth understanding some of the concerns holding businesses back from adopting the cloud. One of the biggest concerns is the risk of downtime – the unavailability of computing resources.

This is no minor worry. According to Gartner, the average cost of downtime to a business is £4,247 [$5,600] per minute, or around £227,500 [$300,000] an hour. Whatever a business’ size, minimising its downtime is a business-critical issue.

However, research has shown that the cloud is very comparable to on-premises environments. Research from ThousandEyes gave the top three cloud computing providers a “robust” reliability rating. It is also estimated that 75% of downtime is not down to the provider but the use, configuration and administration.

As ever, better understanding and training for cloud is the secret to unlocking its potential.

Cloud security

Security also remains a chief doubt for organisations. Temporarily not having access to data is one thing but having that data manipulated or stolen is another. This could have far-reaching ramifications with those impacted, having to foot not only fines but lost revenue.

However, headlines are driving much of this hysteria. The biggest cloud providers have security that is unmatched. Without it, they would soon be found out and lose customers. Providers like Google have recently announced “shielded VMs” along with other security technologies that will prevent hostile attacks, while heavyweights Microsoft and Amazon have also launched their own credential management tools that will ensure legitimate access to important data, all while keeping hackers at bay.

Cloud computing is bringing affordable, flexible and secure computing resources to organisations of all sizes, revolutionising how products and services can be delivered and improving how businesses adapt to changing conditions. However, it will still take some time for businesses across the UK to realise its potential.

While it can often be difficult taking the first step towards change, as more and more organisations begin to realise the true benefits and realities of the cloud, we can expect more to make the considered, strategic migration to a better, cloud-based future.


Read more: Is your cloud at risk of cryptojacking?