Professional services firms, small or large, are always looking to improve their operations. In recent times, Cloud computing has re-defined how firms manage their corporate solutions.  Not only is the Cloud gaining more acceptance, it is reducing IT costs and increasing productivity of firms.

Cloud computing has been on the rise with now 82% of enterprises (up from 74% in 2014) having a hybrid cloud strategy. While still a relatively new concept, if you are using systems such as Salesforce, Office 365 or a multitude of Google products (e.g. Google Docs) means you’re already in the cloud!

What is the Cloud?

The word “cloud” is used as a metaphor for the internet. Therefore, cloud computing allows application software to be operated using internet-enabled devices. Clouds can typically be categorized into three models: private, public or hybrid.

Private clouds are operated solely for a single organization, whether it is managed and hosted internally or externally. This model most represents the older LAN model, as it offers the highest security and flexibility but at a much higher price compared to a public cloud.

A public cloud is a cloud that operates over a network that is open for public use. Technically there is not much difference between a public and private cloud but security considerations must be taken into account. Public clouds may be free or pay-per-use and is the most efficient in terms of resource usage.

Hybrid clouds compose of two or more clouds (including private and public) that remain distinct entities but are bound together offering multiple deployment models.

Benefits of the Cloud

Moving to the cloud can offer a multitude of benefits such as:

  1. Less IT Involvement
    • This includes automatic updates/upgrades without the need to configure with local hardware
    • Allows IT teams to focus on your business, not your data infrastructure
  2. CAPEX Free
    • ‘Pay as you Go’ Subscription based licenses changes the traditional CAPEX model to the newer OPEX model
    • Alter your subscriptions as required
  3. Flexible economies of scale at your fingertips
    • Automatic software updates ensures that you are always on the latest release of the application
    • Wherever there is internet access, there is access to the cloud
  4. Disaster recovery and backup
    • Be secure in knowing that your files and information are stored and backed up on a regular basis
    • Multiple data centers ensures that even when there is an outage at one data center, you can still access your solution on a backup data center

Perceived Drawbacks of the Cloud

While it seems to be greatly beneficial for organizations to adopt their systems into cloud computing, some perceived drawbacks do arise when considering to make the switch:

  1. Perception of a lack of security
    • Suggestion: You may encrypt your confidential files before uploading them to the cloud
  2. Cloud vendor might go out of business
    • Suggestion: Pick a vendor who has been operating for 4+ years with respectable clientele
  3. Reliable service and technical issues
    • Suggestion: Negotiate a service level agreement (SLA) based on your needs

Why are Companies Moving to the Cloud?

After reviewing the benefits and perceived drawbacks of cloud computing, below are some facts why corporations have moved into the cloud in a 2015 survey from RightScale:

  • More than half of respondents cited business agility (54.5%) and scalability (54.3%) as the main drivers
  • Cost is close behind with 48% citing it as a driver
  • Mobility is the next major driver with a quarter of the respondents recognizing the that mobility is powered by cloud services
  • Innovation (22%) as delivered continuously from the cloud is ultimately leading to competitive advantage (14%)
  • Both business and IT (68% of total respondents) see greater migration to the cloud as bringing equal or better total cost of ownership (TCO) to the organization