Businesses are operating in a time of rapid change and ongoing disruption. Not only is there an unceasing advance in technology; firms are having to deal with the destabilising impacts of the pandemic, climate change and political turmoil. To futureproof themselves for these and the unknown challenges of tomorrow, companies need to be increasingly agile and adaptable. Here we discuss how cloud IT can bring this about.
Companies can never know what’s just around the corner. No one saw the pandemic coming and it was only businesses able to adapt quickly to remote working and operate online that could ride the storm unshaken. Even then, there were significant challenges, such as the need to deploy new applications and scale up for increased online demand. Many of the companies that fared worst did so because they were held back by in-house infrastructure that was unable to deliver the deployment speed, scalability and agility needed. Had these businesses used cloud infrastructure, the outcomes might have been entirely different.
One of the key reasons for migrating to the cloud is that it enables businesses to react quickly to change – whether that’s a change in the market or dealing with a crisis. Most new applications are cloud-native, many of them open-source and, crucially, can be deployed instantaneously. No other infrastructure provides such a quick way for businesses to get new products to market or deal with unexpected disruption. Additionally, it enables companies to have immediate access to the latest game-changing technologies, like big data, automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
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The market is becoming increasingly digitised, with businesses racing towards digital transformation. Delivering the experiences customers expect, however, requires top of the range hardware – and created in-house, this requires significant capital investment. The problem, of course, is that the pace of technological development means that the powerhouse hardware purchased today is obsolete tomorrow.
Another way that the cloud can futureproof a company is that it completely removes the need to invest in new infrastructure as that investment is taken on by the cloud provider. At the same time, businesses also forgo the disruption caused by replacing old tech with new as services don’t need to be taken offline for this to happen in a cloud environment.
What’s more, competition between cloud service providers means they are continually upgrading their infrastructure in order to provide better services to their customers. As a result, cloud users can rest assured that their cloud servers offer the performance they need.
Scalability is essential for futureproofing simply because companies don’t always know when demand will increase. We regularly see news stories of websites going down because they cannot handle the amount of traffic they are getting. Of course, all these news stories do is damage the reputation of the companies affected. It is not just traffic, however, that can hog all the resources, so can large scale data processing and other heavy workloads.
Delivering scalability in-house is expensive as it requires the purchase of hardware deliberately kept redundant for spill-over use. Its cost means even where scalability is possible, it is most likely limited and often takes time to bring online as few companies want to pay to run hardware that’s not being used. This isn’t helpful if a business needs additional computing resources immediately.
In the cloud, scalability is both unlimited and instant. Service providers have such enormous resources, spread over multiple data centres, that they can easily absorb a firm’s additional requirements. Just as importantly, those additional resources can be brought online at the click of a mouse, ensuring that whatever demand the future brings, a company can instantly have all the computing resources it needs – with the added bonus that the service is paid for on a pay as you go basis. Businesses only pay for the resources they use and once demand cools off, they can scale back down.
An unstoppable force
One of the biggest problems with in-house data centres is their potential to fail. Hardware failure, network issues and problems with power outages can all take systems offline. Guaranteeing high availability is both expensive and challenging – often requiring an entire remote backup data centre that is ready to kick in at a moment’s notice should the worst happen. For most companies, such an option is not financially viable.
The cloud, however, is an unstoppable force. If physical hardware fails, the virtual cloud server can simply be moved to another machine without interruption to service. Indeed, as vendors do have backup data centres, even if one data centre is taken offline by a natural disaster, the backup immediately takes over. As a result, 100% uptime can be guaranteed, ensuring critical applications are always available online.
While companies do not know what opportunities and threats are down the line, they need to be prepared for them. The only way to do this is to acquire the infrastructure that enables them to be agile and adapt quickly to change. Today, the best way to achieve such futureproofing is by adopting cloud technology.