While cloud computing has been around for a long time, it’s only in the last decade that the technology has matured enough for it to enter the mainstream and become a viable alternative to in-house systems and data centres.
The cloud is now routinely at the top of business shopping lists when it comes to specifying and installing new systems. What is less understood is the effect that the shift to the cloud has on the wider business. Cloud allows enterprises to gather information and do things in different ways thanks to faster and easier access to data.
Thanks to the cloud, data can move rapidly both into and out of the organisation. It also introduces greater flexibility so the business can scale more easily to cope with increases and decreases in demand. It means that systems are always up to date too, with no delays in ensuring that everyone gets the latest version of the software.
But what does this mean beyond the improved technology? The cloud leads to easier cooperation and exchange of information. So accounts data is no longer siloed and unavailable to other departments, for example. The ability to deploy new systems quickly with minimal setup costs also means that the business can respond more quickly to events and opportunities.
This means that it becomes simpler to offer new products and services to the customer via the cloud too. New applications or new marketing campaigns can be tested more easily. Add in access to technologies such as artificial intelligence and speech recognition and there are a whole raft of opportunities for improving interaction with the customer.
Of course, many businesses turn to the cloud in order to control their costs. But while that may be behind the initial decision, there are wider implications. Public cloud services from the big players offer cheap and efficient options but there’s the risk of vendor lock-in.
Many businesses, therefore, are adopting a multi-cloud approach so that they are not wholly reliant on just one or two providers. And of course, while using the cloud may be cheaper than running systems in-house, it’s still a cost on the business and can’t be allowed to run out of control.
William Hewlett – of Hewlett Packard fame – once said, “you cannot manage what you cannot measure”, the cloud allows a far more accurate picture as to how and where resources are being used within the organisation. The cloud is, therefore, about more than technology, it’s a useful management tool. It also allows for faster reaction to events, so new systems can be deployed quickly to have maximum impact.
Increasingly companies are adopting a cloud-first approach. In addition to the flexibility and cost advantages we’ve already discussed, this has other benefits. Many businesses are now adopting a containerisation approach. Large applications can be divided into a collection of microservices. This makes it easier to make changes as they can be tweaked individually with reduced risk of affecting other code that could compromise the running of the entire system.
This approach also streamlines the development process. It becomes possible to create and roll out new applications much more quickly. For example, asset management company Blackrock was recently able to build and release an investor research app in just 100 days. 
It’s likely that over the next few years, we’ll see many legacy systems being ported to containerised environments, making them more accessible and simpler to maintain.
Of course, the flexibility that the cloud offers is only useful if the rest of the organisation follows suit. Evolving job roles and closer cooperation with suppliers and customers will all play a part in getting the most out of the cloud.
If you need free advice on moving to the cloud or anything IT related then give Cloudworks a call. We are specialists in cloud technologies, cyber-security and support. In addition, we continuously monitor our clients IT cloud infrastructure to ensure they are secure and protected against the latest threats. Give us a call to find out more and we will find the best strategy and solution to fit your business.
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