Weighing the pros and cons of migrating your company to the cloud
The thought of moving operations to the cloud can be daunting. You’ve built infrastructure and honed processes over years, maybe decades; recreating it all online in a way that eases future innovation is no simple thing.
COVID-19 accelerated a process that was already under way, forcing organizations everywhere to shorten timelines and carry out complicated migrations while the world was in turmoil. Many found that there was no single solution to all their needs. Often, success relied heavily on the knowledge of their migration expert.
In this article we will explore the costs and benefits of putting your business on the cloud.
The good, the bad, and the big data
One of the most appealing aspects of working on the cloud is the ability to operate based on real-time needs rather than physical capacity. With cloud systems it’s easy to onboard new users, set their access, and add applications and services to expand your capabilities.
Facing a rapidly evolving COVID-19 virus, Moderna developed an mRNA vaccine by using proprietary technology running on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to quickly design, conduct, and aggregate results from dozens of experiments. Their scientists and engineers could switch focus easily, without needing new tools and technology. Moderna was able to submit their vaccine to the National Institutes of Health for phase one trials just 42 days after the virus was first sequenced.
In addition to optimal use of AWS for research and development, Moderna uses SAP S/4HANA cloud-based applications for efficient management of manufacturing, inventory, and accounting.
Pro: remote work
Another shift the pandemic expedited was remote work. In many sectors of the economy, work-from-home is here to stay.
Remote work can make employees more productive, save money on commutes, and give responsible workers the ability to take breaks and maintain their productivity levels through the day.
Considering the number of employees who would seek other employment if forced back into the office full-time, it may be in employers’ best interests to provide that flexibility where possible through cloud hosting.
Con: dependence on cloud service providers
Since cloud solutions are often unique to each business and each provider’s strategies are different, it can be just as hard to switch providers as it was to move to the cloud in the first place.
Furthermore, although it’s every cloud provider’s top priority to keep their service free from disruptions, a change in policies could leave you high and dry while you migrate somewhere else.
Going with the right provider and plan can lower your total cost of ownership. Migrating to the cloud trades the costs of acquisition, maintenance, downtime, training, and more for a subscription fee.
Service providers can also offer greater scale at a lower cost than operating your own servers by pooling resources and infrastructure costs from multiple customers. The increased power and level of service they offer may even let you reduce the size of your in-house IT team.
Con: unforeseen costs
But the migration can be costly if not handled correctly. As businesses hurried to migrate to the cloud in the wake of the pandemic, considerable cloud spending was wasted.
Few solutions are charged based on use, so if businesses aren’t careful they may pay for more capacity than they need. It’s important in the planning stages to identify all your needs, as well as times through the year you’ll need extra resources so you can ramp up spending then and save funds elsewhere.
Further, if a company needs a specialized product their cloud service provider doesn’t offer, they may have to incur extra costs to get it elsewhere.
The initial move to the cloud can be pricey, involving costs to retrain and reconfigure processes, as well as possible downtime for integration. McKinsey found that in addition to average costs being 14 percent higher than expected, nearly two fifths of reported cloud migrations have been delayed for a quarter or more due to inefficiencies in planning.
We’ll start by discussing the concerns in this section, as cloud service providers are devoting significant focus to addressing them.
Con: lack of data control
Reduced control over data feels inevitable moving from a first party to a third-party solution: your data is no longer stored on company property but in another location. There’s a sense that you’re handing over the keys to someone else.
Con: privacy and security risks
These services being “in the cloud” doesn’t mean they don’t live somewhere physically. Like other businesses, cloud providers are at risk of being hacked or experiencing some other sort of security breach at their data centres.
Pro: data backup and recovery
The flip side of having your data stored off-site with redundancies is there’s almost no chance it’s gone for good, regardless of what happens.
Pro: improved security
Security is a pillar of cloud service, and providers are generally well equipped to manage security and compliance through encryption, access control, identity management services and more.
Identity and access management (IAM) becomes incredibly important when users access data remotely or across multiple company locations. Identity management databases store names, titles, contact info, direct reports and more, and match them with a username and password to identify someone logging in. Identity management also includes processes like multifactor authentication for additional security.
Once a user is identified, IAM systems check the resources the user has been assigned access to and restricts everything else.
Pro: regular updates and innovation
Complex deployments and frequent new potential threats from across the web mean cloud service providers need secure systems and experienced teams to update them regularly. Cloud service companies are forging forward by building more powerful tools while keeping security and privacy at the forefront.
AWS leaders spoke at their re:Inforce 2023 event about the strides they’ve made in security and privacy. Their new access control management language and authorization engine, Cedar, is human readable for ease of writing and compliance auditing and uses a “verification-guided development process” to help ensure security and correct implementation.
Big data driving technological progress
Pro: aggregation and analytics
Setting up operations on the cloud gives businesses nearly unlimited data storage and the computing power to process it, allowing for smart decision-making on a tremendous scale.
Returning to the earlier Moderna example, robust real-time connections over AWS allowed the pharmaceutical company and its research teams to share results with ease and fine-tune their experiments on the fly to shave months from the usual vaccine development time. As service providers continue developing ways to aggregate anonymized data, projects and turnarounds on that scale are just the start of what’s to come.
Pro: artificial intelligence and machine learning
Cloud services offer ever-evolving AI and machine learning tools that can help companies automate repetitive tasks, reduce labour costs, and improve operational efficiency.
Pro: the internet of things
Talk about the internet of things often concerns remotely controlling home appliances and HVAC systems but the IoT has revolutionized how businesses operate. Billions of devices around the world constantly send and receive data, from Ring security systems to sensors that monitor soil moisture or industrial processes. Connected to the cloud, they can store more data and process it faster than any one small device could. In this way, businesses can automate processes or stakeholders can access crucial manufacturing data far from the factory floor.
Con: insufficient bandwidth
Without a fast, reliable internet connection, response times and service quality may suffer, especially if you have multiple IoT devices on your network.
Con: complex application migration
Some companies are finding it harder than expected to move to the cloud. Many businesses need customized solutions using microservices, containers, application programming interfaces (API) to fit their needs.
Specific considerations for your technology environment
Migrating to SAP cloud may come at a high cost due to the variety of applications available and the complexity of data their cloud solution handles. Companies making this choice will also need to plan carefully for infrastructure costs, including licenses, upgrades, and servers.
That being said, part of what many companies find so attractive about SAP’s software is its scalability and the flexibility to achieve whatever the companies want.
Cloud computing platform Azure will facilitate your integration and comes integrated with Microsoft tools, making it appealing to any business that regularly uses Office, Outlook, or SharePoint.
The platform also offers services like Azure Site Recovery, which lets businesses run a copy of their workloads to keep applications running during outages. It can also help migrate data and applications.
A migration to IBM cloud will be an easier transition for companies with Big Blue’s products already integrated into their workflow.
IBM is also an excellent choice if nuanced data management is a top priority. And Watson and their other cloud services are helpful for managing and analyzing data.
In the end, choose a cloud service provider with specialized service for your environment to ensure the easiest transition.
Trust Createch IT experts to see you through with in-depth knowledge. With our range of specialized services and products, such as world-class Entreprise Asset Management solutions (EAM) and ERP softwares, our team of experts will support your migration project from A to Z.