Written by: Alex Jenkins
On: 3 Apr 2019
Cloud computing has been around for close to 20 years now and even though it offers a ton of benefits in terms of business efficiencies, many enterprises insist on sticking to old models to their detriment. Today, over 77% of businesses are using at least one cloud-based application or have a part of their operations on the cloud, while others say that they plan on implementing it at some point.
And why wouldn’t they? With cloud based technology, they can enjoy over 50% revenue growth more than your competitors. The data speaks for itself. To understand the benefits it offers we need to understand how this technology works first.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing refers to software and hardware that is implemented and used via a network such as the internet. The term ‘cloud’ is based on abstract nature of the complex infrastructure required in cloud computing, which empowers its remote computation capabilities.
Today, cloud based applications predominately work through the internet. In the past, people had to download software to run programs and applications on a computer or a server. Cloud computing gives them access to those same applications, but through the internet rather than through software.
The technology is based on the idea that the main computation takes place in a machine that is both remote and not in current use. The data that accumulates during this process is worked on by cloud servers.
This means that the applications on our phones don’t have to work as hard. This is known as hosting and it allows the hosting software or databases to free up memory and computing power of systems that are using the applications. In other words, this allows users to access cloud services using credentials that they get from their service provider.
Benefits of Cloud Computing
Needless to say, this ability to make services abstract and thus more accommodating offers a number of benefits for businesses that need to optimize operations for faster ROIs. Here are just some of them in detail:
Reduced Costs and Optimised Efficiency
Traditional IT hardware and software can be quite expensive to buy, complicated to set up and is often misused and mismanaged. However, ready-to-use cloud based services require little to no installation costs and are user-friendly enough to ensure smooth integration. Since these do not come with licensing requirements, business owners do not have to make room in their budget for renewals.
One of the main concerns for businesses big or small is data security and integrity. Even a single email hack can destroy the hard work put into an enterprise. It can ruin its revenue, brand positioning and customer loyalty. The cloud offers advanced security features that can eliminate security loopholes and ensure that the data is stored securely.
It does that by providing access control, encryption, and authentication capabilities that allow users to ensure their data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Plus, since some cloud applications are scalable, they can be outfitted with additional security measures that can boost data protection and reduce access to sensitive information stored in the cloud.
Each business has its own needs when it comes to tech and computing systems. A small business may be able to get by with just a couple of computers, but a large enterprise that has say about a thousand employees needs solutions that can adapt to changing operational needs and quickly. This includes the need to scale IT departments up or down according to business demands.
Cloud-based solutions are perfect for enterprises such as this. That’s because they can be adapted to fluctuating bandwidth demands. So if business needs increase, the tech can be adjusted to adapt to the extra workload without the need for additional infrastructural changes. This agile capability allows growing enterprises to gain leverage over competitors that may not be as quick on the uptake.
In addition, the scalability benefits of cloud based technology reduce operational issues and maintenance needs significantly. To this effect, the tech translates into high performance resources that do not require an upfront investment.
According to an InformationWeek survey, 65% of respondents confirmed that the ability to meet business demands quickly was one of the most important reasons to move to a cloud environment.
This is understandable if you think about it. Any given business has only a finite amount of resources to divide between operations and the personnel who are responsible for them. If existing IT solutions force you to focus on data storage then you will find little time to concentrate on core business operations and customers.
This issue is largely resolved by cloud-based technologies and the flexibility they offer when it comes to hosting. Need more bandwidth? Use a cloud-based service to increase it and manage your data at the same time. This will give you the freedom and flexibility to devote time and resources to more productive aspects of your business which affect your bottom line.
Today, over 2.6 billion smartphones are used across the globe – all of them use cloud based technology to give users mobility and increase accessibility. This includes access to corporate data that can help business owners finalize deals, sign checks, keep in touch with clients/employees and even transfer huge amounts of money without accessing a computer.
In other words, through the cloud, you can keep in touch with employees such as sales staff on-the-go and work from home for the perfect work-life balance.
Is it any wonder why organizations that prioritize employee satisfaction are more likely to implement cloud usage?
Top Cloud Computing Challenges and their Solutions
Even though most enterprises utilize at least 5 clouds, it is apparent that the technology will continue to grow. However, that doesn’t mean that it is entirely free of challenges. Just like any new tech, cloud based solutions come with issues which can compromise operations if they are ignored.
The good news is that unlike old traditional IT solutions, they can be taken care of with simple solutions. Some of these issues include:
For many enterprises, migrating to a cloud based model usually involves a single machine that is devoid of a storage base. While the absence of a storage unit can confuse some at first, so does the use of software and collaboration tools that are starkly different from traditional computing solutions. This includes a drastic change in operational models that have a more cloud-oriented infrastructure.
However, this is a non-issue now owing to the fact that over 88% of companies have now switched to the cloud. This juggernaut has fueled digital transformations that have changed the way companies utilize technology.
Even though shortage of skills is a reality when it comes to operating new cloud exclusive systems, the solutions are user-friendly enough to ensure a quick on-boarding process. But still, teams may require training to use said tech to streamline operations.
Even if development teams and technology may have already migrated to the cloud, back-office transitions may be a different story. This includes essential back-end business processes such as billing, capital expenditures, etc. which can be difficult to transition. The main reason for this difficulty lies in the fact that these traditional database systems have to be moved to a subscription based model.
In addition, employee compensation can also be an issue due to the absence of an internal datacenter which is traditionally used to store performance data and attendance records. While migration can be complicated, it is far from impossible and the rewards are far-reaching. Most cloud services offer migration services that can take care of this and while maintaining data connections during it.
One of the most overlooked and ignored cloud computing challenges doesn’t come from the technology itself. It comes from employees that are supposed to learn how to use it and their ability to do so. Most are wary in the beginning since shifting to the cloud means the establishment of new authorization terms and access to internal information.
This could either prevent employees from accessing information that can help them do their jobs or give them access to more people who they don’t have anything to do with. But, this can also be used to expand departments and change the way they communicate.
To ensure a smooth transition and bring all employees and departments onto the same frequency, company leaders have to host training seminars that can teach them how to use the new tech. In addition, an open door policy in the first few months of implementing new cloud services will ensure a faster and smoother transition.
We have established the fact that cloud technologies are more powerful than ever and do not require much effort from cloud service providers to maintain. However, not every business owner can afford or use those providers due to either budget constraints or compatibility issues.
This leaves them to the mercy of unreliable cloud service vendors who may not be able to provide the same speed and quality of service. The result is often delivery inconsistencies, downtime issues and uninterrupted connections.
On the other hand, downtime is not limited to small businesses – even major corporations can experience a break in service. It all depends on the subscription cycle they go for. While you may not be able to eliminate the problem completely, Alex Jenkins competent IT manager or IT consultant can advise you on trustworthy cloud services that can give the best value for you money.
For the most part, cloud based technologies can save businesses a lot of money in the long run. Using the cloud, an enterprise can improve processing capabilities significantly without splurging on state-of-the-art (expensive) hardware they don’t even need. The additional processing load can be handled by pay-as-you-go models that most cloud providers provide.
On the other hand, due to its on-demand and scalable nature, it can be difficult to place a fixed price tag on cloud computing services. Another reason is the fact that most business owners are largely unaware of the amount they need.
The good news is that there are a number of ways those costs can be kept in check. For one thing, you can manage costs with financial reporting solutions, control crowd sprawl to reduce IT costs, maintain management reporting, automate policies that govern cost management, and make use of other solutions that can reduce these issues. Your IT team and manager may be the best person to look towards for exact estimates.
This is one of the main challenges that companies are facing when it comes to cloud based technology. Despite its ability to reduce the workload, organizations are placing more burden on the cloud as advancements are made. Rather than streamlining operations, this gives employees a tough time keeping up with new tools leading to a huge learning gap that can derail operations in time.
While these challenges can be reduced with training, the issue is an ongoing one since new cloud based tools are deployed on a frequent basis. This can result infrequent transitions which can be streamlined if employees and IT technicians are trained to use them as soon as they are implemented. Not doing so can lead to a bottleneck that can derail business operations from the inside out.
Small to medium sized businesses will also benefit if they introduce cloud specialists to their IT teams. The good news is that most common tasks that they can take care of manually can also be automated which ensures a faster learning curve for employees who are not as tech savvy.