Out of the 500 top companies in 1955, 87% have today disappeared! Why? They just did not embrace change fast enough. This is what is going to happen to your company if it has not yet embraced cloud technologies. Cloud is pervasive. From paying your taxes to liking your friend’s pictures. From booking your plane tickets to finding the next dinner’s recipe. From storing your emails to hosting your banking applications. Cloud is everywhere.
Now, if you happen to work in a company, ask your IT guy where are the servers, the data and the applications? In the company’s data center (or server room) or somewhere in the cloud? Whatever the answer, ask the same guy if you can access all the company applications anywhere, anytime on any device, and listen carefully to the answer. If it’s a no, your company is living in the 20th century and may disappear in the near future, outpaced by a faster and leaner competitor. If it’s a “no but pretty soon yes”, then you are the right path.
What is the cloud?
Ask 10 different person the above question, and they’ll come with 10 different answers. I like the “official answer” from the National Institute of Standards and Technology: “Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.” Okay, not the simplest answer that exists, but the most complete and precise. Take a moment to read the definition slowly. Done? Ready for my definition?
The cloud is all about accessing data, applications and services from internet, without having to manage the necessary infrastructure. You need mail? Subscribe to a mail provider. You need payroll? Subscribe to a payroll provider. You need payment mechanism? Subscribe to a third party payment provider, and so on, and on, and on. Basically, when you need an app or a service, you do not purchase servers, storage, network and software, you subscribe to the necessary service through a service provider. In the end, you do not own any IT but some desktops and internet bandwidth.
Why going to cloud?
Again, ask 10 different persons the above question and you’ll get 10 different answers. I’d rather provide an answer around the 5 main characteristics of the cloud as defined again by the National Institute of Standards and Technology:
- On demand. Cloud services are on demand, pay per use… More and more people do not own cars anymore but use Uber or other similar services. Much less costly and much more flexible in the end!
- Universal access. All you need is an internet connection and voilà! No need to create VPN, to setup dedicated line, and to manage those lines. All you need is an internet access, secured of course!
- Resource pooling. The resources (servers, storage, network, apps, etc.) are shared by all users and are allocated based on usage and needs. Therefore, you may have instantaneous access to a very vast array of resources without having to purchase them.
- Elasticity. Because cloud offers on demand resource pooling, you can access a lot of compute power for a short period and release it when you do not need it. Think about the sales spike at Christmas for a retailer for instance.
- Measured service. Everything you do is measured and billed. Therefore, you know exactly how much your IT cost, almost per user or per department. This allows precise ROI calculation and internal billing mechanisms.
All this without having to use your hard-earned money on purchasing and maintaining an IT infrastructure. As a parallel, think about electricity. Do you have your own electric plant? Probably not (except if you are in Nigeria, but this is another story)! Same for IT. Cloud provides cost efficiency, flexibility and offers services that would be very difficult and costly to deliver on premises.
Why not going now is committing corporate suicide?
Still not convinced that the cloud is the way to go? Scared by horrible stories about the NSA, WikiLeaks or Edward Snowden? Let me tell you something very simple: as soon as you connect any piece of equipment to internet, one way or another, it risks to be breached.
Using cloud technologies is generally the best way to heavily secure any data, app or service in a much better way than you can do on premises. I will cover security in a following post, since it has become a very hot topic. Now, what if you are still not convinced? Think about why you are committing corporate suicide if you are not going to the cloud right now:
- Your competitors are going to the cloud and are getting leaner. They will be able to lower their price or provide more services, making you irrelevant. This is already happening in every industry.
- Your employees are watching what’s happening elsewhere and will leave. Whether millennials, X or Y generations, everybody realizes how fast you can do things if you have the right online tools. Not having them in the corporate environment if a big no-no!
- Your customers will look for more service, faster, better, cheaper. And delivering those services is only possible with a good return on investment with pervasive technologies.
- Your capacity to innovate will slow down. Thyssen Krupp does not sell elevator anymore, they provide lift services. How different is it? They are using cloud technologies and Internet of Things to increase security, lower breakdown and provide a better uptime.
Employees, customers, operations, innovation are the four pillars of any company, private or public. If you cannot increase employee and customer satisfaction, decrease operations costs while enhancing operations effectiveness, and deliver faster and better innovation, you are on the past of becoming obsolete!
It’s not too late! Even if you are still scratching your head about what to do, you can embrace cloud technologies and rip all their benefits. How? Pick up your phone. Yes, your nice smartphone, the one you are posting pictures on Facebook with! Pick it up and have a look at all the apps that are running on this phone. All of them are powered by the cloud. You trust them. You use them daily. Which of them is the equivalent of an app you are using for your corporate work? Mail, file sharing, travel booking? Pick one, just one and ask you what would be necessary to move this corporate application to cloud services.
Consider the additional benefits you will get, the cost reduction you will enjoy (take all the costs in consideration) and the management simplification from the back-end perspective, then commit to a date! Cloud may not be the solution for everything but is becoming slowly. Banks are moving their core banking to cloud services. Insurance companies are calculating actuaries with cloud compute power. Large and small companies are throwing their datacenters away. Don’t be a dinosaur. Remember birds are the evolution of some dinosaurs. Do you want to become a soaring eagle or a decaying triceratops? The choice is yours!
Before leaving, download a simple checklist to help decide if any given app has to be moved to the cloud. Click the button below!