The uptake of the cloud is happening at a significant pace within modern organisations, completely changing the way that they do business. With that in mind, it seems logical that a ‘cloud first’ policy will become the norm at modern companies. This means that whenever they deploy new services or update existing services, they will at least consider moving it to the cloud, to the ultimate improvement of the entire IT environment.
Here at my company, we have been operating along the lines of ‘cloud first’ for some years now. Our initial reasoning was that as an infrastructure vendor, we should arrive at the cloud early on so that we could optimise our services and products for the cloud accordingly. In our mind, it made sense to be ready in advance of when our customers started to utilise the cloud themselves. Clearly, not all organisations are in the same situation. But adopting a ‘cloud-first’ model can have various benefits for businesses of all types.
The way that we have defined our ‘cloud first’ policy is relatively simple. Essentially, whenever we create or update something on our IT infrastructure, we consider either using a cloud service (SaaS) or moving the entire system to the cloud (IaaS, PaaS).
There are five key reasons for applying this policy, all of which could benefit a wide range of businesses.
#1: It gives us a chance to rethink our IT strategy
I started my own business 20 years ago, and in that period we have integrated a whole host of smaller and larger IT systems into our existing environment. The advent of the cloud gives us the perfect opportunity to look at each of them whenever we interact with those systems, and ask:
- Are we using our legacy systems in the way that we should?
- Can we simplify the system?
- Is it at the core of our business, or can we move to a standardised system?
#2: We can do things that were impossible before the cloud
The cloud has opened up a whole new world for businesses, and as such, it is worth reflecting on all of the tasks that it now allows us to undertake:
- Delivering websites and downloads globally and at speed using CDNs, while also geo-blocking downloads in countries with export embargos
- Running the tracking and analytics system that we use internally
- Keeping our email and newsletter distribution systems intact
And that’s just within our own business. Depending on the sector and nature of what you do, the opportunities can be endless.
#3: It saves time and money
To use a personal example, for several years we have been using cloud-based CDNs to deliver our website content, and also downloads of our IT monitoring product (which encompasses the thousands of trial and update downloads every month). Using the cloud is cheaper that our data centre, faster for customers, and includes features for free that would take a significant amount of resource to create and maintain – for instance, the aforementioned geo-blocking for export control.
Email is a perfect real-world example of this. Migrating an on-premise Microsoft Exchange server cluster to Office 365/Exchange Online can result in the removal of excess hardware, less hassle when it comes to ongoing maintenance, and ultimately increased performance.
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#4: It’s better when it comes to scalability
It’s well-known that the cloud offers greater options for scalability. For businesses that are growing quickly, to the extent that they may even be moving offices every 4-5 years, moving IT services to the cloud can be incredibly useful. Such changes place significant pressure on internal IT and developers, and the cloud can take some of that pressure off by offering unlimited scalability.
#5: It offers greater security and stability
Most companies will rely on just a small IT team working within an 8 hour day to ensure adequate cyber security is in place, but cloud providers such as Amazon and Microsoft have round-the-clock teams devoted to this kind of activity. To use an analogy, if you have £1 million in cash, do you store it at home or in a bank vault?
Clearly, the benefits of adopting a ‘cloud first’ policy are numerous. By considering factors such as time, cost, security and scalability, ensuring that your business is cloud-optimised is clearly beneficial when it comes to operating in the new global economy.