Your mind is made up. The tipping point is here. You want to switch to the cloud, but you’re not quite sure how to choose the right cloud for your business. Private, public or hybrid?
Switching your IT infrastructure to the cloud is arguably the one of the most important decisions you can make. Why? Because whether you like it or not, the way your IT is set up can play a huge role. Not only for how smooth and agile your operations will run, but the very future of your business.
Yes, it’s that serious. You need to know that you’re making the right choice. But wait, there’s no need to press any panic buttons. Your first port of call is to assess your needs. These will vary depending on what type of businesses you have. And we’re not just referring to size here. After a comprehensive assessment of needs, then you can weight up your cloud options. And here’s the good news. It’s a buyer’s market so you hold all the aces.
The state of play
A quick look at the market right now reveals some interesting key trends. A recent study in the United States revealed that around 85 per cent of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. This figure is up from 82 per cent in 2016. Why is this? Reasoning varies from security considerations, data privacy laws, and support for legacy applications.
But, the most salient reason is maintaining the control of such a critical operation as IT in a modern business. Of course, once new efforts prove successful in the public cloud, then transformation decisions are on the table.
And this is where things are changing. For a lot of medium to large businesses, this notion of control remains vital. On the flip side, however, there is enormous adoption of the public cloud by startups, and most importantly scale-ups.
For startups, it’s more than evident that the economies of scale found within public cloud offerings are a one-way street in getting started. For scale-ups, things are a bit more complex. Because while public cloud resources need to respond to growth increase significantly, the relevant cost can climb at a much higher rate. Even so, we see that many scale-ups are sticking with the public cloud, with larger companies staying with their own private flavor of infrastructure.
How to choose the right cloud
Making your choice of what cloud solution to go for boils down to a matter of business processes. Your first port of call should be a quality assessment of your needs.
Your criteria should include:
- Type of data – What kind(s) of data do you need to store? For example, for highly sensitive data, private clouds are a necessity. But if the outside value of your data is minimal, then a public cloud is enough.
- Software – Depending on what industry your business is in, you may need to store your software publicly or privately. A hybrid can also be an option here.
- Devices and people – A key factor is the number of people and devices which will be used. Public may be fine if we are talking about a handful of employees and devices, but for larger numbers then you may need to adjust accordingly.
- Budget – Ah yes, the classic “constraint”. Free versions of public cloud options are available, but you need to check security. Private cloud does come with a cost, but it’s worth the investment in the long run in terms of security.
Next, weigh up your options
Your needs are clear. OK, now you need to check your options. And then make that all-important decisionLet’s have a look at the pluses and minuses of each type.
When we hear the word cloud, most people think of the public version. In the beginning it was all about simple applications hosted over the internet (SaaS – Software as a Service). Today, though, it can include infrastructure, and even data storage provided by a third party vendor. The top “big three” players are of course Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure. Services can come as completely free as well as pay-per-use. On the whole, they are ideal for non-sensitive data storage, collaboration, and email.
- Pluses – Flexibility and scalability. The cost of the service is about use, not location. Higher levels of resources can be pooled so businesses can benefit from economies of scale. A major plus for the non-tech savvy crowd is that their business does not have to manage it.
- Minuses – Vulnerability to cyber attacks. If your industry is finance or health care where sensitivty of personal data is a top priority, then security becomes an issue. Reliability is also a key headache.
In contrast, this option usually serves the needs of a single business and, more often than not, is completely purpose-built. It is hosted on-premise or at a data center, and the main benefit is that it gives the business more control over security, data privacy, and compliance. Generally, private cloud services are the optimal solution for changing business models or unpredictable needs. According to Gartner, private cloud industry will continue to grow all through 2017. Why? Because they are ideal for tougher security demands and reliability (or “uptime”) needs. Heavily regulated industries, such as the financial sector and the medical profession, are prime examples where this kind of cloud solution is relevant.
- Pluses – Scalability. Private clouds are scalable, self-service and offer multi-capacity uses. They are vital for businesses which need to leverage large amounts of “big data”. More significantly, they are more secure. This is because they live behind a firewall and are accessible only to a limited number of people.
- Minuses – It probably won’t come as a shock that the main downsides are cost and management resources. An organization’s in-house IT team must manage private clouds. This means more budget for staff, maintenance, and capital. Then there’s additional costs like cloud software, virtualization, and other management tools.
To steal a famous (in the UK at least) advertising phrase, this one does exactly what it says on the tin. It incorporates the best of both words. Typically, a hybrid solution combines at least one public and one private cloud. For example, an organization may have a private, on-premise virtual environment that’s connected with a public cloud.
- Pluses – Organizations can shift workloads between their private and public cloud services as and when their business demands and capacity requirements change. A key selling point for many businesses is the fact that they may use an on-premise private cloud for highly sensitive data, and a public cloud for the rest.
- Minuses – We may be slightly biased but its difficult to come up with negative points for this one when mulling over how grow to $91.74 billion by 2021. The flexibility and scalability on offer is their trump card. We are not alone in our estimations of the popularity of the hybrid cloud marketplace. Some extensive research from Markets and Markets predicts that it will
Ready to move to the cloud?
So there you have it. Plenty to think about when deciding how to choose the right cloud solution for your business. For us, all three technologies can represent a successful investment. But only if (and this is a big if) the relative business process can be modified to fit with it. Success on the cloud relies heavily on how well other business operations like product development and placement, or even reporting and analytics, are involved in the decision-making process.
If you’re still unsure how to choose the right cloud for your business, contact us for a free consultation and we’ll provide you with an assessment and a recommended solution and plan based exclusively on your needs.