By Rob Irby, Software Engineering Manager at On Center Software
Okay, I get it. The cloud can be scary for any business. It’s a huge leap in how its infrastructure, data, and mission-critical assets are managed. Not to mention, the IT practices that are currently in place at many companies have been around for several years. Tested and refined over time and evolved into systems that help IT professionals feel safe when it comes to their infrastructure. However, once you start to investigate the barriers that prevent companies from moving to the cloud, you’ll find that most of the perceived hurdles are not really problems at all.
What, someone else is managing my data? This is the single largest reason that I hear regarding why companies are afraid of moving to the cloud. There is an assumption that the only person that cares about your data is you and that cloud providers will not spend as much effort making sure your data is secure and available. However, it’s important to remember what business priorities are in play here. A cloud provider’s sole business is making sure its systems remain up and available. They only care that data is safe, secure, and available whenever you need it. They spend countless hours monitoring their infrastructure, applying security updates, swapping out hardware; the list goes on. This is their business. They eat, breath, and sleep data management. At the end of the day, no matter how much an IT department would like to think they can handle this task themselves, it takes away from other priorities that they can be focusing on. Most businesses are not in the business of managing data. Data management is just a necessary evil that they have to deal with. It’s just a cost of doing business. Most businesses like to think their data is more secure and less likely to get lost when they manage it themselves, but I personally think that is a false sense of security. In most cases, a self-hosted datacenter is less secure than one hosted by a cloud provider. How can I know that I will be able to access my data when I need it? This is a legitimate concern, and it is exactly what the cloud aims to fix. It’s a lot less likely that a cloud data center goes down and data is lost or unavailable than it is at your office. In May of 2016, we had a major event here at On Center Software. A short in the electrical panel caused the entire building’s electrical system to catch fire. Every single transformer, meter, and electrical panel on the outside of our building were torched. Our business should have been dead in the water. However, since most of our infrastructure that we rely on to operate our business was hosted in the cloud, we were able to operate as if nothing was wrong. Not a single customer even knew that we had closed our office for over six weeks. It was business as usual. Imagine if we had to shut down for six weeks? 2016 would have been a disaster.
Even better, when hosting IT infrastructure with a reputable provider like Google or Amazon, you can rest assured that they have hardened disaster recovery plans in place. If there is a catastrophic event at one of their data centers, there is always another remote data center standing by, ready to take control. And yes, there is a possibility that your office internet goes out and you cannot access your data. However, there are easy ways around that problem. I have tethered to my cell phone’s internet in some cases and kept on working. Even the worst internet outages cannot compare to an office fire that closed us down for six weeks. Do you want to leave your business vulnerable just so you can handle a minor internet outage? Which scenario will have the most impact on your bottom line?
What will IT do when all the infrastructure is located in the cloud? The answer is plenty. Most IT departments have a huge list of things that they would like to do, but just don’t have the time. Things that could potentially help drive additional revenue and productivity. Even with the cloud, there will always be a need for IT professionals on staff. Workstations, phone systems, routers, internet gateways, VPN’s, and the list of hardware that needs to be maintained goes on. Not to mention, someone has to manage the systems in the cloud as well. While Amazon and Google will prevent you from having to worry about things related to physical servers and maintenance, someone will still be responsible for all of your business applications – ERP, CRM, and more. Even if you move those business applications to hosted solutions, they will still need someone from your company to manage them and make sure they are tailored to suit the business requirements. Believe me, there is still plenty of things for IT to do – except one. Your IT people will no longer get the dreaded call at 3:00 a.m. when a system goes down. Their cloud provider will answer that call instead. Long live IT’s work-life balance!
Upsetting the status quo is always difficult. It’s problematic to move away from something that has worked effectively for years to try something new. However, most of the advances we have seen throughout history involved disrupting the current way of doing things. Once we learn to embrace the change, we start to see that most of the reasons that caused hesitation were really not good reasons, to begin with. At the end of the day, one thing is for sure – the cloud is here to stay and it is the future of computing infrastructure. If you want your company to be able to compete, then stop worrying about the what-ifs and the unknown. Instead, start embracing technologies that will take your business further into the twenty-first century!