The growth of ‘cloud-first’ strategies and the benefits for businesses bringing data into a cloud environment
While storing data on traditional on-premise servers used to be the standard procedure for most businesses, the number of companies using cloud services has increased gradually over the years, with research showing that 85% of enterprises will adopt a cloud-first mentality by 2025.
With more people now working from home, and businesses forced to find more cost-effective means of data storage, the growth of cloud-first strategies has shown no signs of stopping following the pandemic. In fact, Gartner projects that global spending on cloud services is expected to reach over $482 billion in 2022, up from $313 billion in 2020.
What is a cloud-first strategy?
Cloud-first strategies are operations strategies where teams move all or most of their infrastructure to cloud-computing platforms like AWS, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure.
Instead of using physical resources like server clusters to store their online data, companies house resources in the cloud.
A cloud-first approach suggests an organisation should look first to cloud solutions when developing new processes or adapting old processes before considering non-cloud-based solutions.
In 2013, the UK government introduced a cloud-first policy for all technology decisions. They defined this as, ‘Departments remain free to choose an alternative to the cloud but will need to demonstrate that it offers better value for money.’
Whilst many other large organisations like this will already have a cloud-first policy by default, for SMEs the path can be more daunting without in-house expertise and guidance.
For them, it can help to first understand the many benefits of bringing data into a cloud environment, and why the uptake of the cloud is happening at such a significant pace.
One of the main benefits of adopting a cloud first strategy is cost saving. For businesses, building their own hardware for hosting applications can cost time, money and resources, and post-production works such as updating, replacement, or repair adds extra cost in terms of equipment and employee salary.
In contrast, whilst moving to a third-party provider and cloud-first strategy incurs a monthly fee, this is usually less than all the hours and resources spent managing applications and servers internally and can help reduce hosting costs, labour costs equipment and licensing expenditures.
Many external providers also offer affordable and secured prices on their services so, for small and growing companies, the cloud-first method delivers additional storage on demand to ensure they only pay for what they need.
As businesses grow, data volumes inevitably increase too, however scaling can be complicated and expensive when data and applications are managed internally and can be a large undertaking for IT departments.
By switching to the cloud, businesses can scale as and when they need to, without the need for an infrastructure redesign, as third-party cloud providers will create a copy of the business’ entire system automatically and backup any files that are created and updated, allowing them to upgrade to a larger plan as their storage needs grow.
In any business, issues and setbacks are unavoidable, but those that are relying on physical storage systems are opening themselves up to risk of hardware failures and data and information being lost.
If they are stored on the cloud, however, businesses can rest assured that their information and resources are safe.
Recovery time is also often quicker than that of information stored on a physical server, so having information saved on the cloud can prove invaluable in time-sensitive scenarios.
Data is many companies’ biggest asset, so it is important to ensure it remains safe, secure and accessible.
Cloud services can provide businesses with a more secure network, enabling them a safer infrastructure for their data, and the security services provided by public clouds are more encrypted, meaning they are equipped to delicately handle the security requirements of specific projects.
This is proven by data from RapidScale which suggests 94% of businesses saw an improvement in security after switching to the cloud, and 91% said the cloud makes it easier to meet government compliance requirements.
Other forms of cloud transformation
Cloud-based phone systems are also becoming more popular as the business world becomes more digitised and offers internet-based services.
With cloud phones, calls are conducted entirely via the internet, which means businesses are only being charged for their internet use, rather than for call minutes or extra phone service.
Whilst the main benefit of cloud-based phone systems is their low cost, they offer many other advantages including reliability and flexibility, with the ability to route calls to your VoIP-enabled phone no matter where you are, as long as you have an internet connection.
For companies experiencing major growth, a cloud-based phone system is an excellent choice for easy and efficient scaling.
The uptake of cloud computing is happening at a significant pace within modern organisations. It is rapidly moving to the forefront of business transformation and differentiation and providing companies with access to the most innovative technologies, helping them stay ahead of competition.
Although it may bring some challenges for organisations that weren’t ‘born digital’, clearly, the benefits of adopting a cloud-first strategy outweigh the potential drawbacks.
The advantages of the cloud have helped organisations build resiliency amid the pandemic and will continue serving them in the future, and those that fail to embark on the cloud migration journey only risk being left behind.