the cloud

How to Get Ahead with the Cloud When You’ve Fallen Behind

Are your competitors using the cloud to innovate? Are you worried about falling behind? Here are five steps you should take to gain an edge.

Are you having trouble getting your cloud initiatives off the ground? If so, you’re not alone. Many enterprises have taken a “wait-and-see” approach to the cloud. For example, some have moved non-essential applications to the cloud as a test to see how they perform. But even with early successes, enterprises may still hesitate to move their mission-critical systems, such as their SAP applications to the cloud. These uncertainties are caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Uncertainty about whether the cloud would catch on
  • A lack of in-house expertise to manage cloud applications and infrastructure
  • The need to retain legacy investments

According to a study by Bain & Company, late adopters make up the fastest-growing segment of the cloud market. In 2011, the study’s “slow-and-steady” respondents had less than one percent of their applications in the cloud. When Bain & Company updated their findings in 2018, this segment had moved 30 percent of their applications to the cloud.

The study states, “As cloud offerings have matured and the number of customer successes grows, slow-and-steady customers — those that Bain defines as interested in the benefits of cloud computing but very cautious about the risks — have gone from the smallest to the fastest-growing — and potentially largest — segment.”

This study shows that fears about the cloud are dissipating. Business leaders have seen how their competitors have gained greater agility from the cloud. They are now pushing CIOs to move their legacy applications to the cloud, so they can maintain a competitive edge.

Meanwhile, cloud security has improved dramatically. It can now offer stronger levels of protection than many legacy security tools.

Meanwhile, many CIOs are moving from a cost center manager to a digital strategist.

They not only want the cloud’s benefits of increased agility and cost savings – but they are forward-looking and want to put digital transformation on their resumes.

5 Ways to Make Up for Lost Time if You’re Just Getting Started with the Cloud

If you’re not currently in the cloud, you have fallen behind your competitors and need to catch up.

Now is the time to get clear on your business goals and create a cloud strategy that will carry you into the future.

Here are five things to consider when you develop your cloud strategy:

1. Understand that the cloud isn’t always about cost savings

A few years ago, IT vendors heavily promoted the costs-savings benefits of the cloud.

However, you may not achieve massive cost savings when you migrate your legacy systems to the cloud.

Instead, you should expect benefits in the areas of agility, scalability, and flexibility.

The Bain and Company report found that, “only about 10 percent of companies buy based on cost. The remaining 90 percent want cloud investments to be cost-neutral but are motivated by non-cost factors, such as uptime, flexibility, scalability, ease-of-use, and security.”

2. Decide which workloads you want to move to the cloud

If you haven’t already, move your non-essential applications to the cloud. Once you feel comfortable with your results, you can move mission-critical applications and infrastructure to the cloud.

If you’ve been at this stage for a while, consider the benefits of moving your SAP systems and other vital applications to the cloud. For example, migrating to S/4 HANA can improve your performance and give you access to real-time data from every part of your enterprise.

After you decide which workloads are right for the cloud, determine which clouds are right for each workload. Classify your applications and consider their performance, security, governance, disaster recovery, and availability requirements.

Also consider your compliance requirements. Research any regulations that might prevent you from putting a specific workload in the cloud, such payment information or a patient’s health information. Hybrid architectures can alleviate some of your compliance challenges and allow you to separate where you host sensitive data. For example, you can separate data and application across cloud and non-cloud platforms.

Here are nine more questions to ask before you move your data to the cloud:

  1. Is this application available in a software-as-a-service model?
  2. Do we have any restrictions on where our data can reside?
  3. How geographically close is our cloud provider to our end users? How will this impact or network latency?
  4. Does this application require dynamic scaling? If so, can we redesign it to take advantage of dynamic scaling?
  5. Does server-less architecture play a part in our future application design?
  6. Do we need continuous integration, continuous development environments?
  7. What are our disaster recovery requirements?
  8. What are our data retention requirements?
  9. Which workloads require custom architecture and which ones do not?
3. Create a data security plan

The cloud is secure, but your provider won’t offer you full protection out-of-the-box. Get clear on what security measures your cloud provider will take – along with what you are responsible for on your own. This will help you identify any gaps between your data and the cloud.

You must apply all of the security measures that you use on-premises in the cloud.

Otherwise, each of your security gaps will be magnified in the cloud – making it easy for hackers to exploit your weaknesses.

Here are three ways that you can protect your data in the cloud:

4. Ensure that your cloud providers will keep you compliant

Your industry may require you to maintain detailed reports around where you store your data and who accesses it. Before you move any applications to the cloud, get clear on your requirements.

Then, ask if you need to keep any information, such as financial records, on-premises. If you can move data to the cloud, ask if your provider will meet your compliance and security needs.

Depending on which cloud model you choose, your cloud provider may handle much of your compliance. But, if you use the cloud for just Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), you will be responsible for most or all your compliance.

Many enterprises don’t realize that their IaaS provider won’t handle their backups and data until after they’ve committed to a contract. Then, they get a surprise months later when they learn that no one patched their servers.

5. Partner with a managed cloud service provider

The quickest way to succeed with the cloud is to work with a partner who can handle everything for you. Look for a partner who offers ready-made solutions with compliance, security, and automation built in.

Your partner should also offer a full suite of managed cloud services. This will help you drive more value from your cloud investment – without putting a strain on your internal IT team.

Is Your Company Behind When It Comes to the Cloud?

If so, now is the time to develop a cloud strategy that addresses your cloud concerns. This will ease your transition to the cloud, so you can develop new IT service models that make your enterprise more innovative and competitive.

You can also contact us today to discover how we can reduce your risks while you move your workloads to the cloud.