It’s hard to imagine but just a decade ago, the cloud was regarded as an experimental technology. Even more recently it was seen by some as only useful for storing holiday pictures from their smartphones.
The early stages of cloud development were hampered by connectivity and security concerns, as well as a desire to protect existing investments.
But over the past few years, managers and IT teams no longer ask whether their organisation should adopt cloud, but instead about cloud strategy, which workloads to migrate, and how much it will cost.
Cloud strategies have become a mainstay of IT environments as organisations recognise their increased flexibility, efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
The selling points for cloud services are easy to identify. Cloud allows organisations of all sizes to benefit from limitless amounts of storage and computational power, and to benefit from advanced capabilities, such as analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), without the need to invest in onsite infrastructure.
Adopting cloud services also reduces the need to employ teams of IT staff and task them with IT housekeeping, such as updating software. The ability to scale up or down, depending on demand, provides cost-effective access to IT resources and enables rapid expansion.
Cloud services can also help organisations become more productive and collaborative. Collaborative technologies, such as Microsoft Office 365, allows employees to access information and work together wherever and whenever they want, using a device of their choice.
‘The new normal’
According to the 2018 Insight Intelligent TechnologyTM Index (ITI), IT departments are increasingly responsible for both the day-to-day management of infrastructure and for driving innovation in the organisation through technology.
Despite this expanded remit, more than half of IT budgets are either unchanged or reduced from 2017. It’s no wonder that 37% say monitoring budget is their greatest tech worry, with security threats, talent retention and outsourcing all giving cause for concern.
But cloud is a source of optimism. Nine in ten respondents invested in cloud services in 2017 and 100% of those believe cloud-based services to be “beneficial”, while more than half considered them to be “very beneficial”.
The Intelligent Technology Index also found that of those who invested in the cloud in 2017, two-thirds did so in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), 52% did in Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and 50% looked at cloud-based security.
The top perceived benefits of cloud include flexibility, efficiency and security. Two-thirds of survey respondents state that cloud technologies support a more flexible and collaborative IT environment. And more than half believe their data environment is safer – a far cry from the security scare stories of the embryonic era of cloud.
According to the ITI, nearly half (47%) of IT managers believe that cloud is the area in which IT budgets need to grow the most – indicative of the importance they place on it.
Although cloud technology can be more cost-efficient and lowers the total cost of ownership, many organisations have existing investments in on-premise systems and want to maximise the return on investment from that spend. Accordingly, the vast majority of organisations have migrated some – but not all – workloads to the cloud.
Identifying which workloads to move to the cloud depends on a number of factors. Technology is one consideration, compliance and regulatory requirements is another.
The desire to maximise returns from investing in on-premise infrastructure is one of the driving forces behind hybrid cloud. Hybrid cloud combines public and private clouds with on-premise infrastructure. Such a strategy delivers a balance between the two, affording the scale of the public cloud, the control of a private cloud and allowing a business to maximise existing IT assets.
Cloud may come in many forms and organisations will consume services in different ways. But one thing is clear: cloud is the new normal.
Make more informed decisions by reading the full Intelligent Technology Index.