By Milind Borate
In times of crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic, true business leaders focus not just on survival but also on building for the future. Along with enabling remote working, they must invest in improving agility and efficiency. According to IDC’s recent survey on the impact of Covid-19 on IT spending, VPNs, collaboration suites, end-point encryption, and Cloud tools will witness an uptake. About 64% of organizations in India could opt for cloud computing as a result, while 56% could go for Cloud software to support the “new normal”. Understanding the flexibility, cost benefits, and competitive advantages that Cloud offers will enable them to prepare for the future.
Discussions about Cloud costs are often exaggerated or inaccurate. In reality, there are three ways in which you can achieve cost savings with Cloud – that too without rearchitecting applications.
First, adopt SaaS applications for core services. As SaaS providers create highly optimized cloud applications, the savings can be passed on to customers. Second, shut down smaller data centers and move their workloads to Cloud. Even without tuning the applications for cloud, the operational and capital savings of eliminating data centers outstrips any inefficiencies. Third, migrate applications that are overprovisioned or running on the wrong type of data center infrastructure. Cloud offers a chance to optimize even static applications with a broader menu of compute and storage options than most companies can run in their data centers.
Creating momentum is the biggest secret to extracting value from the cloud. Don’t waste time debating the 10% of applications that are difficult to move. Just as some companies can never be fully virtualized, some will never fully move to the Cloud.
Security and Compliance
The question of whether cloud is more secure than on-premises is irrelevant. What matters is how businesses use the cloud to improve their security. Majority of cloud providers invest significantly in security, knowing that their business would be at risk if they don’t do so. Cloud has some of the highest levels of security available today, backed by broad federal certifications. This is a big advantage for most businesses, who lack the expertise, time, and staff to keep abreast of the sophisticated and continuously evolving cyberthreat landscape.
Although the cloud provider ensures the security of the environment, the responsibility of the data still rests with the customer. Customers should, therefore, encrypt data in movement and at rest; ensure that object stores are not exposed to the outside world; and monitor their network policies very closely.
Usually, a data center breach by hackers involves an attack on both production and backup environments, leaving the company with little choice but to pay the ransom. IT teams often try to retrofit air gapped backups onto their existing solution, but this is an error-prone and expensive process. On the other hand, with a SaaS data protection provider, the data becomes automatically isolated and immutable. Customers can thus be confident that their backups will always be safe and can be recovered quickly.
Data protection should be as important a consideration as cost and security. The same litigation, compliance, and governance requirements that apply to data in the cloud also apply to it on-premises. Data is susceptible to deletion or corruption due to user error, application error, or even the malicious actions of internal users. Business teams often overlook the risks to their data when they use the cloud. This is a mistake; data protection is more important now than ever.
Transitioning to a “cloud-first” environment unleashes a great competitive advantage – the sheer speed of scaling resources up and down. While the procurement and installation of on-premises infrastructure typically takes months, cloud capacity can be provisioned in a matter of minutes and can also be released in minutes.
Many organizations worry about the risk of investing too early or too late. They fear that if they invest too late, their competitors might bypass them, and that if they invest too early, they might be forced to make deep cuts. Most companies, therefore, tread cautiously. The flexibility of the cloud, however, enables market leaders to move aggressively and confidently.
Once the cost, security, and protection benefits of the cloud become apparent, one can appreciate the value that its flexibility offers. The cloud shifts infrastructure from being a cost center to becoming a strategic platform that can help a company embrace opportunities in an uncertain future. To survive and thrive in a period of change, one needs to be agile, secure, and capable of scaling at speeds greater than that of competitors. Cloud, if you get it right, can give you the edge and the scalability required to become a market leader.
(The author is Co-founder & CTO, Druva and the views expressed in this article are his own)