Cloud technology has been described as “the powerhouse that drives today’s digital organisations” by Sid Nag, research vice president at Gartner. In fact, Gartner also forecasts that by the end of 2023, end-user spending will reach nearly $600 billion, up from $495 billion in 2022 – an expected increase of 21%.
Here, Paul Meersman, head of marketing at strategic change enablement agency, CDS, takes a closer look at how to choose the right cloud solution for your organisation.
The pandemic significantly accelerated the adoption of this innovative tech. It proved that agility to meet changing demands was key to reducing costs, improving workforce efficiency, and driving business growth during testing times.
Cloud computing is integral to digital transformation strategies worldwide, driving and enabling this change. It promises organisations increased security, scalability, value, and flexibility in the uncertain economic climate.
But with so many solutions on the market – each with its own benefits and drawbacks depending on an organisation’s needs – navigating the journey to the cloud can be challenging for any IT leader.
Is there a universal approach?
No one company is the same. Their business models, size, processes, regulatory constraints, working environments, technology and so on, differ – as well as the initial reason for migrating to the cloud.
There isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. Some organisations may find the best route is operating entirely in the cloud, especially newer private sector companies that wish to integrate cloud-native services into the business.
But this can be a lot harder to execute for more traditional businesses and those in the public sector, particularly where they have legacy technology underpinning operations. Therefore a ‘hybrid cloud’ approach might work best here.
Organisations must do the research and closely examine their intended outcomes of the cloud migration and make an informed decision about the transition.
Unfortunately, in such a saturated market, some providers will try to sell an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution that, at first glance, seems to work for all. But this will require more work in the future to make sure it functions correctly – adding costs and delaying implementation.
Seeking guidance from cloud specialists, who can explain the differences in the various types of cloud, and what each offering can deliver should be the starting point of the digital transformation strategy.
What are the different types of cloud computing?
A public cloud solution is the most well-known type of cloud, delivered over a public network. Spending on public cloud products in Europe alone is expected to reach $113 billion in 2022, doubling to $239 billion by 2026, according to IDC.
It is arguably popular for its autonomous approach, with it being hosted by a third-party provider. Businesses can transition from traditional on-premise IT to a virtual, scalable solution that relies on existing, robust infrastructure.
However, this form of cloud generally comes with long-term contractual obligations that limit flexibility.
For companies that are security-conscious or are limited by regulation — particularly in the financial sector – a private cloud solution might be more appropriate. It can only be accessed by one organisation, making it much more secure, and it can also be hosted either on-premise or off-premise via a third-party provider.
The latter comes with higher upfront costs but a good long-term return on investment (ROI).
If the benefits of both public and private cloud appeal, then hybrid cloud could be the right choice. This option gives businesses the advantages of scalability, efficiency, and greater functionality of the public cloud, coupled with the security element of its private counterpart.
So, whilst the public cloud might be the most well-known, the hybrid option may be the easiest to transition to – especially for traditional companies with legacy tech. Organisations can pick and choose which applications move to the cloud and which remain on-premise.
If continuity, regulatory demands, and downtime are the main concerns, a multi-cloud environment could give business leaders peace of mind. This is due to using two, or more, cloud providers for services.
A significant benefit of this cloud type is that if issues arise with one provider, applications can be re-launched in the other cloud environment, improving resilience. This might be particularly appealing to large enterprises.
Lastly, in recent years there has been a surge in ‘Anything-as-a-service’ (XaaS) solutions. These offerings are all accessed over the internet – whether that’s a piece of software (Software-as-a-Service), a platform to build apps (Platform-as-a-Service), making resources automated and scalable with near real-time and metered by use availability (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), or serverless computing which allows companies to run elements needed per function (Function-as-a-Service).
These solutions allow organisations to purchase an application-based service with differing benefits and are managed by a third-party provider. This makes cloud services more accessible for companies of all sizes.
When the right type of cloud is implemented, that’s when positive, transformative change becomes possible.