There has been a gradual shift in businesses embracing cloud as their main infrastructure. The pandemic situation seems to have accelerated this move of businesses adopting a cloud-based model with most people forced to work remotely. Cloud based infra provides a lot of advantages over on-prem models, as it is completely managed and highly available.
Earlier, businesses were reluctant to move to the cloud due to security fears. The security services offered by cloud service providers have also come a long way in providing best of class defense tools to prevent intrusions and data loss. With security risk coming down, business owners have started trusting cloud service providers more. The added advantage of not having to manage huge server farms and employ a team to manage the infrastructure 24/7 has resulted in huge savings to businesses. Small and traditional businesses can now start concentrating more on their business rather than worrying about their digital back bone.
For businesses who are still on traditional on-premises model, the question always arises as to whether it is the right time for them to deploy cloud migration services. The question of should they or shouldn’t they move to the cloud arises when they see their competitors move to the cloud.
I believe the right time to move to the cloud is best arrived at through a set of introspection on these lines.
While there are several reasons to move to the cloud, here are some of the main reasons that you should consider.
1. Better reach: New product companies usually build an MVP version that they might build using local infrastructure and tools. They may even test it within a target group. When the MVP is successful and the product is ready to be distributed to a larger audience, they may want to consider moving to a cloud infrastructure that provides greater reach, more flexibility and better control over the data and release processes.
2. Reduce operational cost: Some businesses may want to move to the cloud to reduce cost and realize more value out of the easy access to better infrastructure on the cloud. Pure play business houses who have a small technology team may want to move to the cloud to leverage managed services that are available 24/7 at a fraction of the cost that they will need to spend otherwise. Several auto-scalable services are available in the cloud that enable optimal availability of resources based on the load and hence keep the cost minimal.
3. Reduce time to market: There are several cloud based architectural solutions available in the public domain for standard business models. These are time tested frameworks that can be used to quickly develop your software. Many of these frameworks take care of scalability, high availability and data redundancy, apart from basic security features. Leveraging these frameworks and coupling them with powerful tools like Ansible or Terraform to deploy the infrastructure can greatly reduce the time needed to set up the various environments.
Apart from these, moving to the cloud will reduce technology obsolescence on the infrastructure side and provide a good security cover that will be more expensive to build with an on-premises setup. With more avenues for data collection and cost of storing data going down on the cloud, a cloud-based software is better suited for enabling analytics in future
You might be interested in: 5 Best Practices for Moving Data Workloads to the Cloud
The next big question is, when should one move to the cloud. While this is an important question, the best time for businesses to move to the cloud is when they can realize value out of the move!
The value parameters could be different thigs or a combination of factors. Some of them are (not limited to)
– Cost savings
– Time to market
– Better Security
– Better reach to customers
– Avoiding technology obsolescence
– High availability
– Low latency
– Future proofing (data availability for analysis)
Availability of on-demand infrastructure is a boon for small start-ups that want to build small, test the product with a limited trial group and then massively scale up. They can expect to save a lot of cost compared to on-premise development and deployment.
As discussed earlier, the availability of a plethora of tools and pre-designed architecture frameworks reduce the time to build and deploy products greatly. Product companies that want to quickly test the waters with a minimal version of their product, before they release a much bigger & better version, would find value in adopting a cloud native delivery approach.
As the business models may vary, firms should introspect on the cost to benefit of moving to the cloud before they make the plunge. An internal software that is used only by a few members of the company may not be a right candidate to move to the cloud (unless of course there are other considerations like huge data storage, DR, geographically separated teams, etc.).
Some product companies start developing products that work only on the cloud (cloud native development). Other businesses may want to move their data alone to the cloud while still have their application running in-house. Businesses that want to expand their footprint to other regions, may benefit by moving to a cloud based implementation with global accelerators or regional installations. Businesses affected by security breaches might want to leverage state of the art security services offered by cloud providers for safeguarding their client details.
While the reasons may be different, the question of when to move to the cloud is best decided by the value realized by the business by such a move.
Decide on which services / application / data to move to the cloud. Such a list should be the basis for deciding on the cloud platform and services that you want to leverage from cloud providers. A well architected cloud solution will eke out the best value for your business.
Once the list is available, decide on the cloud platform and the process to migrate. A hybrid model will also allow business to test the waters before they move all their applications on to the cloud. It might be a good idea for businesses to move their data alone, or a few applications that require global access, to the cloud first. Back up and disaster recovery using the cloud infra can also be an option.
After moving the first / few applications, thoroughly test the model with all dependencies. Some application may require data from other services which are still hosted on-premises. Make sure that the applications work as expected and without latency, and with the right authorization / authentication strategy. It may also be a good idea to monitor the cost of ownership for running this set up. Also make sure that there are no security loopholes due to the cloud-based implementation. A proper user governance & administration model Is essential for high security.
Many financial institutions may have geographic limitations and hence may not want to move to cloud. Such Fintech organizations can still think of Cloud as their Disaster Recovery Strategy and use it only for BCP purposes.
Migrating to the cloud also offers opportunity for businesses to modernize their applications with several new services that are now available from cloud providers. Along with proper audit and serverless models, the various options for realizing value outweighs status-quo.
By Ankit Kumar Ojha
By Uma Raj
Subramaniam Hariharan is VP Solution Architecture and Delivery at Indium Software.