The Age of the Cloud is Upon Us.

What exactly does that mean for an organization? Why move to the cloud in the first place. Small businesses and enterprises alike have been migrating their IT systems to the cloud for quite some time. In fact, a dramatically increasing number of small businesses are moving to the cloud.

According to Gartner, the market for the public cloud will increase by 17.3 percent this year to $206.2 billion.

Forbes predicts that 83% of all IT workloads will be in the cloud with on-premises workloads falling from 37% to 27% by 2020. 

Why are so many businesses, large and small, moving to the cloud after being adverse to it for so long?  For some, there are numerous reasons to make the switch, but let’s focus on five. 

As technology encourages 24/7 office hours, it’s up to management and personal discipline to maintain a traditional workday.

1. Availability 

The cloud allows you to take advantage of the high availability services provided by the cloud service provider and access that service or data from any place at any time. Companies have stopped investing in the expensive infrastructure required for disaster recovery, backups, and high availability. Increasingly they’re looking to the cloud to provide those key requirements.

Organizations have kept those critical services and infrastructure close to the vest for a long time. They are more comfortable giving up the burden because of financially backed service level agreements. Google, Amazon, and Microsoft all offer service level agreements that guarantee 99+% uptime.  

We mentioned any place at any time, right? Companies are taking advantage of software as a service solution (SaaS) to replace sprawling infrastructure on-premises. Employees enjoy the benefit of no longer needing to worry about remembering VPN or specific sites to log into. Why? Cloud security and analytics have improved dramatically in the last few years. 

2. Security 

We’ve touched on it briefly just a moment ago. Let’s look a little deeper now. Cisco’s global cloud index predicts that nearly all companies will be running purely on software as a service platform by 2022. That number is incredible in and of itself. But here’s the thing that really makes it jump off the page.  Most of those companies had no intention of doing so in 2016. The major driver behind that drastic change was increased comfortability with the security offering available for such services. 

Application security controls around bring your own device (BYOD) and remote access scenarios have been improving at an impressive rate. With mobile application management controls, organizations are now able to ensure company data is protected on any device. An increasingly mobile workforce means organizations need to enable remote access but also ensure the person accessing the data is who they claim to be.

Machine learning and AI built into cloud directory services provide advanced analytics and behavioral control over sign-ins. Had a user sign in from your headquarters at 9:05 AM and then again at 9:06 from East Africa? Cloud directory services are now smart enough to block that second logon, alert on compromised credentials, and enforce a mandatory password change for your end-user.

That level of transparency and control is winning over the cloud adverse organizations in droves! 

3. Agility 

Moving to the cloud provides companies with the ability to be light on their feet and pay for only what they consume. This means that you can quickly commission or decommission resources as necessary for project work, dev ops, or just to adopt a new service. Automatically scaling services in Azure and AWS ensure that your users always have the experience they need and that the company doesn’t spend money on resources they aren’t using.  

When a new cloud service becomes available your services can be moved to it. Immediately you stop paying for the services you’re not using anymore. That’s not possible on-premises. Those servers sit in your datacenter unused until they’re repurposed or recycled. When it comes to software as a service, the level of flexibility provided comes in not worrying about the infrastructure at all. Companies pay only for the users that are accessing the service. When services like Dropbox, Exchange Online, or Google Drive are used, companies don’t worry about infrastructure cost.  

An organization only needs to pay for a license to assign an employee to use the service. Consumption is often bottomless in the license agreement. There’s no additional cost on top of the license. Going through a merger or unexpectedly increasing your user base? Just purchase more licenses, which can be done in a matter of minutes, to get everyone on board. Downsizing? Once your subscription expires (monthly or yearly) you just reduce your license count! 

4. Total Cost of Ownership 

When we spoke about availability we mentioned no longer worrying as much about disaster recovery and infrastructure level high availability, right? No more expensive storage arrays and giant server racks. No more support agreements for aging or legacy hardware. When a company moves to the cloud it’s adopting more of a pay as you go approach. The prearranged service level agreements are the responsibility of the provider.  

Because of the flexibility provided with scalable service, and pay as you go software, there’s no more wasted cash by planning for capacity over 5 to 7 years. Why pay for what you’re using 5 years from now today and every day until you reach that threshold? Other companies don’t do that and neither should you.

5. Quality of SaaS 

When you move to the cloud, that service provider invests heavily in providing the service in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible. Innovation happens much faster. New products become available to customers at an accelerated rate. Companies that move to the cloud now benefit from always running on the newest version of whatever service they’re using. New features are available more frequently. All while maintaining that same guaranteed service level agreement. 

The two best examples of this are Windows and Office with Microsoft. Windows 10 now works on a release cycle where major product updates come as “feature updates”. Previously these would be entirely new versions of Windows that you’d have to buy every 5 years or so. Licensing customers are now able to use the deployment and customization tools with Office to ensure their end-users are always on the newest version. The best part? It’s part of the subscription cost! 

Why Wait? 

In the past, organizations argued that security was the primary concern and reason for not moving to the cloud. It’s clear by the explosion of cloud customers and the workloads that they trust with a third-party provider that those barriers are crumbling. In fact, cloud identity and networking solutions are now industry leaders in security. Customers are beginning to rely on cloud identity to improve their security postures.  

The primary blocker – Security, is now becoming more like an enabler. The truth is data is much more vulnerable when businesses are protecting it on their own. Unpatched vulnerabilities account for 60 percent of data breaches, according to the Ponemon Institute.

Stop Fearing the Cloud

So now that organizations realize that their data is actually more secure on the cloud, a majority of them are looking to the cloud to see where else they can improve. What’s stopping your company from taking the next step? Maybe you’ve already looked at software like Box or Office 365 but haven’t really taken the leap into the rest of the possibilities offered by this technology. With more and more options available in the cloud today it makes absolute sense to take a closer look.

Don’t have the expertise yourself to convert your IT to the cloud? Are you wondering how to move apps to the cloud or how to move files to the cloud? Perhaps you just want a second opinion on why use the cloud? There is no shortage of partners available to help guide your company on its way to digital transformation. There is a growing market of cloud access security brokers that can not only help secure cloud applications but also monitor the use and enforce firmwide policies.

The best advice is to get help. Seek the counsel of a trusted adviser. These should be experts who can help you understand what workloads are most suitable to move and which cloud provider is best for them.