The Cloud… should I ?
Recently I have seen many articles appearing on why you should move your technology stack from on premise to the cloud. I think it is fair to say that the reasons for migrating to the cloud are well known and well rehearsed.
So, let’s have a look at them with a critical eye.
Scale up and down your cloud resources to meet ever changing demands exclaim cloud vendors. So, you buy what you need to meet the demands at that moment in time. This flexibility is great to deal with seasonality or support a sudden spike in demand. However, even if you don’t use the cloud resources you have bought you still have to pay for it, therefore you need to be careful on how much you buy and when to switch off any excess you may have. The ability to scale up and down by using cloud resources is quick and does save on the need to invest in infrastructure.
As a Yorkshireman this is close to my heart. By moving to or using cloud resources organisations can save on capital investment. Cloud costs, are by and large, pay as you go, you pay for what you buy. This means that savings linked to hardware purchases and maintenance can be avoided. However, if you are migrating existing processes and workloads to the cloud there are costs associated with doing so, for example moving data can generate significant expenses.
It’s worth noting that by moving to the cloud it gives you an opportunity to look at your processes to see if you can streamline them and become more efficient. It’s a missed opportunity if you simply migrate current ways of working without looking at any potential improvements.
Costs tend to go only one way, that’s up. When moving to the cloud will you be locked into a specific vendor, how easy is it to move from one vendor to another if your existing provider becomes uncompetitive?
Finally, on this topic, managing cloud vendors isn’t free and will incur a cost. A full business case should be created to assess any potential savings and costs, both implementation and ongoing.
Being able to access services, products, applications, and data – whenever and wherever. The Martini approach, for those who remember the adverts.
More and more businesses, products and processes are built and designed for the cloud. Today there’s an expectation that users can access applications on any device at any time, assuming they have an internet connection. The pandemic highlighted the importance of accessibility. Cloud based services allowed people to work remotely and collaborate easily even when geographically dispersed. It didn’t matter if you were using a PC or a Macbook, or based in Shanghai or Sheffield, everyone could work together as long as you had access. However, is this still a real benefit or more of an expectation ?
Reliability and Availability
Cloud providers take ownership of ensuring users can access their cloud resources. This means they must run enough capacity, whilst ensuring hardware and software failures are minimised. On the flip side, who pays for all the redundant capacity when it’s not being used ?
Whilst a cloud provider will try to maximise access what happens if you have no internet connection ? You also need to consider down time for routine maintenance, when are these planned and what’s the impact on your business. Workloads can be moved across the cloud provider’s estate so the impact may be non-existent or minimal.
Finally, regarding this benefit is that disaster recovery protections are baked in most cloud offerings, but it’s worth checking if there’s any additional cost to meet your needs.
Cloud providers spend a lot, and I mean a lot of money on security measures. Any organisation that provides cloud services is always asked about the processes in place to protect data from being hacked or accidentally made available. Let’s be honest, nothing is 100% secure, not even a Yorkshireman’s wallet. Having said that, cloud providers take data breaches and security incredibly seriously and possibly may spend more on protection than you ever could. However, you are still trusting your data to a third party, this requires a mindset shift. You need to consider what data is being migrated over and what would be the impact if this was leaked ? What mitigations are in place if the worst happened ?
There are many examples of security lapses, in 2021 Facebook had a data breach. In May 2023, Toyota had to issue an apology for a potential data leak due to cloud configuration errors. More recently in June 2023, the MOVEit transfer software was hacked impacting many organisations in the UK. Having said that, human error is still the biggest cause of security breaches.
So, there you have it. Moving to the cloud has huge benefits but as with everything there’s always a risk. Each decision to move to or use more cloud resources needs to be fully considered to see if it’s right for you and your business. Just don’t go in with your eyes closed.