Leaving a legacy behind – a cloudy but profitable future

Cloud computing is fast becoming a mature technology with more growth expected. Gartner believes that by 2020, a ‘no-cloud’ policy will be as rare as a ‘no-internet’ policy is today. Over the last five years in particular, businesses have recognised that cloud computing reduces spending on data centres and on premise equipment, and enables them to be way more flexible and efficient, as employees are able to access company data however and wherever they want.

Though most large organisations have or are developing a cloud strategy, many aren’t turning the key overnight.  The move is more gradual so they need to contend with a hybrid approach – managing on premises and cloud environments – for the foreseeable future. If done right, this enables them to continue to keep the lights on while embracing cloud for ease of growth, such as mergers and acquisitions, better facilitating mobile workers and ensuring virtual teams can communicate and collaborate more freely. Many of the companies we speak with are trying to move more workloads to the cloud so they’re in both a hybrid and migration state.

Moving more workloads to the cloud means less investment in infrastructure management and maintenance – this allows IT to focus on innovation and staying competitive.  The quicker they move their communication and collaboration workloads to the cloud, the easier it is for them to adapt to change and centralise accounts, data and audit logs, thus making compliance mandates easier to comply with.

Managing cloud workloads via software as a service (SaaS) has distinct advantages. As companies move to more cloud-based services, they will want to extend this model to their management tools as well and for the same reasons: license flexibility, mobility, audit ready.

But what other benefits are there for companies born in the cloud, and how can businesses built upon legacy systems keep pace?

Leaving a legacy

Legacy businesses will be constantly catching up with companies born in the cloud, who will be faster to adapt to modern ways of working in a much safer way. For example, those born in the cloud can easily adopt policies across their unified communications platform to ensure better compliance with corporate and industry mandates as well as have a better handle on mobile device policies and have them dynamically enabled. They also have better visibility into where data is stored and how, so issues related to compliance and auditing can be avoided.

Cloud services often rely on restful APIs to enable quick and easy integration. As such, for organisations that have adopted cloud solutions, this opens a wealth of opportunities to better leverage their business data and build more intelligent systems. If proper security guidelines are established from the beginning, then organic growth can happen quickly and seamlessly – with no need for heavy infrastructure investment.

Getting security right

As the cloud footprint expands, the risk and complexity of securing, managing and ensuring compliance for multiple environments increases. Businesses today face significant security challenges, such as protecting against data loss, threats to data privacy and breaches of confidentiality. All such threats are made more serious by the imminent arrival of GDPR, with the associated risk of public backlash from breaches and substantial fines for those companies failing to secure their data and ensure quick restore.

Many security threats (about 70%) originate from an insider. This means that companies need to implement dynamic management of be vigilant in applying policies for employee access to ensure they are secure and compliant with data protection legislation. They also need to ensure they have extended their disaster recovery solutions to cover all cloud objects and they can be implemented quickly in response to a threat.

One notable advantage of cloud is also the speed of recovery if users or groups are deleted. Such an occurrence can be a heavy risk in today’s environment where hackers attempt to gain access to privileged users accounts and infiltrate the environment that way. It is difficult to roll back if you don’t have a way to compare changes made at definitive times.  Being able to view changes between known good backups and live Azure AD, then quickly being able to restore only the unwanted changes can save you hours of investigation and the cost of downtime. Businesses can easily achieve all this through simple SaaS solutions. Again, the design of the cloud environment should encompass smart storage and back up plans for recreating the business environment no matter what happens to physical devices.

A cloudy future for some

Cloud computing already has an important place in business and it will go on to dominate the discussion. Fundamentally, if there is no cloud plan, then companies face falling behind competition and hindering their own growth. 

To stay competitive, companies will navigate to cloud-hosted productivity platforms, due to their cost saving and practical advantages in handling fast, dynamic work-loads. In addition, businesses will be putting a larger emphasis on simplified SaaS based cloud backup, and recovery and policy management solutions that are able to dynamically keep abreast of the business as it grows – meaning less lost hours in managing and fixing. Collecting and processing data to achieve better business and financial intelligence is what makes cloud computing far superior to traditional systems, and why organisations yet to make the leap must do so now.