Adoption of Cloud Computing - 5 most common uses and the tech talent you need
The rise of cloud computing continues apace. Gartner predicts as many as 80% of enterprises will have shifted to public cloud by 2025. By all accounts, this isn’t a revolution constrained to global mega corporates. Small and medium sized businesses will stand to gain the most from the diversity of cloud use cases, especially given the challenging operating environment. Whether it be cost savings, added flexibility or ease of use, smaller businesses are seeing all of the advantages that cloud can offer to maintain a competitive market advantage.
As cloud technologies continue to evolve at pace, we’ve set out the key use cases that these businesses can expect to utilise as they make the transition to the cloud.
1. Cloud Backup
Cloud backup is an alternative strategy to the traditional tape based, physical method. Cloud-based backup solutions are far less labour and cost intensive, and in general terms, more reliable than backing up from physical counterparts.
Whilst the advantages are self-explanatory, the process of transition can often be a minefield. Designing a cloud backup solution is a complex process that necessitates a number of requirements to be established. For example, how much of your data is mission-critical? How fast do your backups need to be? What are your requirements for long-term archiving? What types of data sovereignty and data privacy regulations do you need to be in compliance with?
Without the requisite expertise, cloud backup transitions can go awry. For this reason, it is key that you have an experienced storage and backup engineer on board, who is able to guide you through the process. Deep knowledge of the relevant cloud storage provider and DevOps skills are a must for navigating this space.
2. Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)
A common misconception is that cloud disaster recovery and cloud backup are one and the same. Whilst they overlap, they have distinct utilities from one another.
While cloud backup services can be tapped to recover data after an event, a true DRaaS provides the necessary virtual servers and cloud storage to spin up their clients' applications so that they continue to operate their business after a disaster event.
This is one of the key reasons that DRaaS is attractive to small and medium sized businesses. It provides huge security for businesses that would otherwise run the risk of sacrificing business continuity when they need it most.
Again, DRaaS is a particularly sophisticated solution, which if not implemented correctly can soak up much resource with limited upside. Experienced storage and backup engineers are again a must have, particularly those who have a deep containerisation skillset.
3. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
When the layperson bandies around the term ‘cloud computing', IaaS is perhaps the closest thing to what they mean. It provides some of the biggest gains for smaller businesses - unshackling them from the monetary and time cost of purchasing and maintaining physical hardware assets and giving them the ability to scale.
IaaS cloud providers can host all of the infrastructure components present in on-premises data centres: servers, storage and networking hardware, as well as the virtualisation or hypervisor layer.
IaaS, once implemented, is very efficient to run. Scaling up capacity is as simple as the click of a few buttons in the console. Additionally, IaaS can be part of a CI/CD pipeline, which improves development speed and reliability by building in test automations.
In order to realise the full advantages of IaaS as described, software needs to be architected appropriately. As well as DevOps expertise, having access to deep systems architecture knowledge is a prerequisite. In-house tech-leads should also have cloud experience and be developing applications with scalability in mind.
4. Big Data
Big data analytics used to be the preserve of the tech heavyweights. Now, as more and more enterprises move their operations to the cloud, small and medium sized businesses can get in on the action. Specifically, the elasticity of the cloud means that businesses can capture more and more data, which in turn can offer valuable insights.
In order to make good on the promise of big data though, there needs to be an end-to-end approach. Business analysts and data scientists need to collaborate with DevOps and architects to make sure the correct data is stored, and in the correct manner for easy access. If done properly, data science teams can then access such data to derive insights that can inform high-level strategy.
5. Software as a Service (SaaS)
SaaS delivers software via the internet; rather than being downloaded onto individual devices, it is accessed through an app or a web browser, and managed by third parties. For small or medium-size organisations, SaaS is a hassle-free and cost-effective alternative that offers new possibilities and flexible costs, as well as easy maintenance and deployment to traditional software delivery.
If your business has an internal software need, there is probably a SaaS product that fills the gap. Although less deep technical expertise is needed than in the above use cases, having a technical point of contact, a CTO / CIO for example, is a good way of navigating what can often be a complicated market place.
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