Article by Chris Starkey, founder and director, NexGen Cloud

Cloud computingIn the current climate, the rapid growth of cloud software shows no signs of abating. Particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the advent of remote work has prompted an urgent need for solutions that solve the problem of data accessibility while staff are geographically dispersed.

Likewise, businesses will naturally be looking to operate more cost-effectively, with added flexibility.

The statistics say it all. Indeed, recent research from IDG highlights the popularity of cloud solutions, showing 81% of organisations already use cloud computing, or have applications in the cloud. Meanwhile, a further 55% say that their organisation uses more than one public cloud to support business requirements.

But that is not to say that cloud adoption comes without concern for other firms. Although the pandemic has, in many ways, reduced the resistance of management when it comes to having applications in the cloud, for many, these barriers still loom large. While it is a culture change preventing some businesses from taking the leap, for others, security concerns top the list of reservations, as well as the cost of implementing these solutions.

But are these concerns grounded in reality?

Re-measuring expectations

Firstly, organisations ought to consider whether they are investing in the cloud for the right reasons. If the prime reason for investment is that businesses plan to save operational costs alone, then their plans might warrant some reconsideration.

Put simply, it takes some time for the cost benefits of cloud adoption to filter through, given the cost of the talent needed, migration, and cloud operations. However, the goal of utilising the public cloud was never about these savings alone. Indeed, the main benefit of cloud investment should be the improved speed of change it enables organisations to pursue.

All firms, and particularly smaller ones, can benefit from this agility, as it enables to expand internationally, for example, without needing to worry about the cost of spending on a mass of servers. Likewise, cloud adoption can be a much more efficient means of allocating resource, than managing monolithic products, or data centre hardware.

Security doubts

Another area rife with concern are the security implications that arise from cloud adoption. In fact, according to a Coalfire survey, the overwhelming majority of organisations (93%) said that they were moderately to extremely concerned by security problems, which have hindered the cloud adoption process.

It is first important to address that these concerns often arise due to misconceptions. Often, businesses mistakenly believe that physical data centres are a more secure means of storing their data. However, it should be acknowledged that most cyberattacks happen without the occurrence of any physical breach.

Quite the contrary, the cloud is actually a more secure means of storing data than on-site servers, which can create a false sense of security for businesses. However, there is something in the fact that organisations are concerned about the fact that they are solely responsible for any breaches or compromised data. This all boils down to the fact that firms must re-assess their security protocols, and how well they are protecting their company and customer data. If these solutions are not having the desired effect, then perhaps this warrants some further investment before moving over to the cloud.

For added security, some businesses may want to consider investing in cloud platforms which are able to automate compliance, audit and send alerts about security events, and encrypt data-at-rest. Increasingly, there are products with these capabilities available on the market, so this should go some way to ease concerns.

Transitioning legacy software to the cloud

Another hurdle organisations typically confront on the path to cloud adoption is transitioning from monolithic programs – legacy software that is typically build based on outdated technologies. Not only do business leaders have to face a complete culture reset when doing this, but also a more involved process of re-evaluation when it comes to the technologies used to bolster their operations.

More often than not, organisations will find that their solutions do not fit their business plans five years down the line, for example – so a ‘lift and shift’ implementation may not be a viable option. This may result in incompatibility, poor cost optimisation, and solutions are not resilient enough to stand the test of time.

However, this is something that businesses can overcome by re-evaluating their digital transformation plans more generally. This involves re-assessing their software, and how well it fits their business needs. In many cases, organisations will need to replace, or displace, their legacy software, rather than shifting it over to the cloud, to realise the full benefits of cloud adoption. It may not sound all that enticing to business leaders, but the truth is, monolithic applications based on outdated tech may require a full re-write before a transition to the cloud is possible, but that is not to say it isn’t worthwhile.

To conclude, cloud computing is one of the most promising avenues for businesses to explore in the future, offering a whole host of benefits, from improved decision-making and security, as well as unique data analytics. That said, businesses must look at the bigger picture, and consider how their implementation will benefit their organisation more widely. Doing so will lead to safer and more successful data storage.

Chris StarkeyAbout the author

Chris Starkey is the founder and director of NexGen Cloud, which is on a mission to bring cheap affordable cloud computing to all. London-headquartered NexGen Cloud is working with Cudo Ventures to disrupt the cloud compute market. With data centre operations established in Sweden and Norway, the company is able to deliver infrastructure-as-a-service cloud computing that is cheaper and greener than the mainstream providers. NexGen Cloud also provides opportunities for investors to access the cloud sector, giving them the chance to share in the growth of market sector by investing in compute power.