Cloud strategies for digital transformation

Rapid advances in technology in recent years have meant that ICT plays an increasingly critical role in most businesses and organisations.

It touches every team and department and is something that your users rely on to enable them to provide exceptional service delivery.

Organisations investing in digital transformation can reduce costs, bolster their network and data security, enhance productivity, boost collaboration and improve workflow and communications.

So, your ICT strategy shouldn’t just focus on how to improve your ICT so it functions better. It should also consider how technology can serve your organisation better. Cloud computing plays a crucial role in this digital revolution.



On-premise vs cloud

There are several key differences between an on-premise environment and one that’s hosted in the cloud. The correct model for your organisation will depend on several things, including your objectives or strategic aims and what you are looking to get from your ICT environment.

In an on-premise environment, all resources are deployed within an organisation’s in-house ICT infrastructure. In a cloud environment, resources are hosted by the service provider and can be accessed on demand by the user.

This can often work out as a far more cost-effective way of running ICT. Organisations which have on-premise infrastructure are responsible for its ongoing costs, maintenance, power consumption and space. In the cloud, you pay only for the resources your organisation uses, with no ongoing upkeep or maintenance costs for the infrastructure upon which it is built. The price you pay will go up or down depending on how much of each resource you use.

With on-premise, organisations retain all their data and are in full control of what happens to it, while in a cloud environment, the ownership of data is less clearly defined. However, data and encryption keys usually reside with your third-party provider, meaning that you may be unable to access it if there are any problems or downtime at the vendor’s end.

While most vendors now offer customer-managed keys, this introduces a significant management overhead. The decision on whether to use vendor-managed or customer-managed keys depends on the balance between how much you trust the vendor and how much overhead you can accept.

With both on-premise and cloud solutions, securing sensitive data and ensuring privacy for your customers, partners, and staff is vital.

On-premise can give organisations a greater level of control over their data security and privacy, although this can come at a cost. On the other hand, cloud can sometimes be less secure and more vulnerable to a cyberattack or data breach if you are relying solely on the vendors’ in-built security to keep your data and information safe.

There are probably more cloud security features that most organisations have from their on-premise security solutions and the entry price is lower because there is no up-front hardware purchase cost or license cost. But, this doesn’t mean organisations choose to use them, or configure them correctly.

Additionally, more features mean more opportunity to configure a security flaw. You are also dependent on the vendor not messing up and changing something that creates a security vulnerability.

And when it comes to compliance, on-premise can have a slight edge for organisations that have to follow strict protocols or need to know where their data is and have access at all times.

With a cloud environment, unless you are buying a bespoke solution, some off-the-shelf cloud services may not be fully compliant with the relevant regulations in your industry, country or sector. You may need additional services to help you achieve compliance.



What is a hybrid cloud platform?

Hybrid cloud is the name given to an ICT environment that comprises on-premise infrastructure, private cloud services, and public cloud – such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure – with orchestration across the different platforms.

While cloud services help drive cost efficiencies, their main benefit is supporting and enabling an organisation’s digital transformation.

Cloud can help bridge the gap between your organisation’s ICT strategy, which will have saving money at the top of its agenda, and its broader corporate strategy, which will more likely be focused on making investments that deliver long-term value and returns.

For example, while achieving a £300,000 cost reduction in ICT spend is great, it may make more sense to invest an additional £300,000 in cloud technology that could save your organisation £2m in the long run.

Combining public and private cloud service with on-premise resources can give your organisation the agility it needs to remain competitive, productive and efficient.

This can sometimes involve converting your on-premise infrastructure into a private cloud environment over a few years when renewals or replacements are required, in order to arrive at a position where a converged management plane is possible.

It will also help you to adapt or change direction quickly as your market or sector develops, without having to make costly investments in new hardware and physical infrastructure every time your organisation needs to pivot.



What are the benefits of hybrid cloud?

Hybrid cloud offers several benefits to larger organisations, including:


Supporting a remote workforce

Desktop virtualisation is a crucial benefit for organisations with large or distributed remote workforces. Given the events of the past 12 months, where many employees have found themselves working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, the need for a reliable remote working solution has become more critical than ever.

This can be achieved in two ways – either give remote workers virtual desktops or give them laptops they can use at work or at home, so they have the same experience everywhere.

Many organisations favour the latter because if they do the former, they almost always end up buying users a device anyway, which means they have ended up investing twice.

The laptop option doesn’t require users to use their own device at home in order to access the virtual desktop.

Hybrid cloud gives organisations the flexibility to support their remote staff with on-demand data access that isn’t tied to one location.

They can move business-critical data to private on-premise servers while making essential services and applications available on the public cloud.

This is crucial for optimising efficiency or productivity. Offering an exceptional flexible working solution can also help attract and retain staff with the skills your organisation needs to move forward.


Reduced costs

Hybrid cloud can deliver significant cost savings to your organisation when compared to on-premise ICT infrastructure. It’s an excellent option for organisations that require greater control of their data and enhanced security but need to scale their operations to meet spikes in demand in a cost-effective way.

Hybrid cloud can unlock potential cost savings by allowing organisations to store sensitive data on their private, on-premise servers and offloading fewer sensitive data and applications to the public cloud. When demand peaks, cloud capacity can be expanded according to need, so you pay only for the resources you use, and these can scale back down quickly when demand eases.


Improved scalability

As well as more control over costs, hybrid cloud also gives organisations greater control over their data. Workloads and resources can be scaled up or down to meet demand. Hybrid cloud also enables increased automation, so processes and policies can be adjusted to change automatically in line with demand to optimise efficiency and performance further.


Innovation and agility

A hybrid cloud model will enable your organisation to develop new products and services and get them to market quicker and easier. Because hybrid cloud doesn’t limit users to private on-premise infrastructure, it’s easier to expand workloads in the cloud to prototype, test and launch innovations. If these work the first time, great. If not, you can fail multiple times and keep refining until you get things right at a low cost.

It also means that if you think a product or feature might be useful for your organisation, you can test it – often for free – in the cloud. With on-premise, you’d have to invest in purchasing and installing the product before you could really try it.


Business continuity

Hybrid cloud helps improve business continuity and reduce potential downtime and disruption.

It helps organisations back-up critical data by replicating it in the cloud and ensures scalability when demand spikes without over-burdening private servers and causing further slowdowns.


Enhanced security and risk management

Hybrid cloud computing gives organisations greater security and more control over their critical data. A hybrid environment enables you to choose where your workloads and data are hosted, based on your organisation’s policy, compliance or security needs. It’s also easier to implement more robust security measures in hybrid cloud, such as encryption, automation, access control, orchestration and endpoint security, to manage your risks more effectively.



The best of both worlds

A hybrid model will allow you to maintain control of your most sensitive data while giving you the flexibility to scale your operations automatically and securely as you need to.

Ultimately, the pros and cons of a hybrid solution must be weighed against your organisation’s needs and priorities. But hybrid cloud is an excellent option for organisations that want the best of both worlds.


If you enjoyed this blog and want to learn more about how we can help your organisation develop an effective cloud strategy and achieve improvement through technology, give us a call on 01332 322588.

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