For decades, businesses have been connecting to remote networks to serve their needs. Before the explosion in popularity of the World Wide Web, we relied on mainframe computers that we connected to via modems at a ridiculously slow data rate. Next, businesses moved to client-server models and then, eventually to what we now call the Cloud. If it sounds to you like this brief history of computing is skipping over a lot of key milestones and technical distinctions, you’re right—IBM does a good job providing a complete accounting. For the moment, the details are not important. What is important is that the idea of working in distributed computing environments is nothing new and by extension neither is the Cloud.
So, if the Cloud is nothing new, why are we still talking about it like it is? A recent Google search on “moving your business to the cloud” yields no shortage of links to pages promoting stories like “7 Reasons Why Your Business Needs to Move to the Cloud” and “5 Good Reasons for Moving Your Business to the Cloud.” These are not headlines from articles written long ago. Even as we begin 2018, the industry is still speaking about the Cloud like it’s the hot new thing. This is particularly interesting when you stop and consider that the first reference to “cloud computing” was coined by Compaq and Netcentric as early as 1996.
It’s believed that more than 90% of businesses lean on the Cloud in one or more ways, such as storage, collaboration, and call center. In June 2017, B2B research, ratings, and reviews firm, Clutch, published the results of its Second Annual Cloud Computing Survey which punctuated the growing commitment to the Cloud. In speaking with 283 IT professionals at businesses across the United States, two-thirds (67%) of them planned to increase their cloud computing spending. In contrast to this utilization rate, however, Right Scale in its Cloud Computing Trends: 2018 State of the Cloud Survey, notes that almost one-fifth of businesses lack a plan for multi-cloud utilization the future. Additionally, businesses with plans for hybrid cloud utilization fell from 2017 to 2018.
Gartner looked at this seeming contradiction between the percentage of businesses that have implemented cloud computing and those that have stated that they have a plan. At a time when most businesses have overcome the numerous misconceptions about the Cloud, creating plans for integrating its usage into the overall company direction remains a challenge. Gartner concluded:
“Infrastructure and operations leaders often struggle to understand the role of cloud computing and develop strategies that exploit its potential. I&O leaders should complete the prerequisites before making the technology decisions required for successful, service-centered cloud computing strategies.”
Getting the Most from Your Cloud Implementation
When you stop and consider all the various ways that a business might use the Cloud, it quickly becomes apparent that no one company will likely have such a diverse set of experts. Yet, according to Clutch just a little more than half of businesses (57%) rely on third-party experts for help. Implementing a cloud strategy can be an overwhelming task for organizations that try and go it alone. Limited in-house knowledge on how to go about this type of undertaking and lack of a clear strategy are frequent showstoppers to success.
Businesses that are most successful in their cloud implementations typically work with an outside firm. A technology partner can help a business navigate the large number of options that comprise cloud computing. The best partners will take a holistic view of company’s needs, which will begin with an overall technology assessment and end with an implementation roadmap for success now and as the business evolves. With this, the company will have a clear strategy that includes all aspects of the Cloud as well plans for day-2 optimization and support.
Deciding to bring in outside help comes down to the needs of your company, as well as resources available. Small to mid-size businesses may be the most likely candidates for bringing in a cloud partner but will have to weigh that need against cost. Seeking out a partner that can provide solutions at multiple tiers will be essential. Larger enterprises will want to look for partners with deep expertise in multiple cloud disciplines and ability to help with on-going optimization and continual business improvement.
Regardless of the size of your organization, nothing will be more important than careful upfront planning. Moving your applications to the Cloud will have a profound impact on your business. However, doing it without a clear plan may have a more significant impact regarding lost opportunity and greater expense.
Remember, the Cloud is not new; how we go about using it may be.