There are many business drivers for cloud (as a B2B cloud provider, this is our primary focus, though many of the consumer drivers are similar). Ultimately, it’s about being more agile as a business and flexible in how technology is delivered to end-users. You will notice that we haven’t listed cost as a standalone driver. We believe that, on a like-for-like technology-sourcing basis, reducing server spend is seldom a compelling motivator. The cost imperative must be accompanied either by value-adding benefits (the focus of the below, many of which will save costs as a secondary benefit) or be achieved through cost reductions in other operational areas.
The key drivers are:
Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery
A classic cloud driver for people to use hosted compute and storage resources is BC/DR: keeping the organisation running if they cannot access their building(s) or their technology resources. Cloud hosting operates as either the primary or secondary delivery mechanism, helping to eliminate dependence upon on-premise kit or taking over if on-premise services are not available.
Overcoming Resource Shortages
Managed cloud hosting helps with all resource challenges – lack of available systems, real-estate, personnel or expertise – by providing companies with dynamic resources available elastically and on-demand, with dedicated experts working as an extension of the customer’s IT department.
Campaign, Special Event or Seasonality
Many organisations, especially in B2C industries like leisure, hospitality, entertainment and retail, run regular one-off campaigns, special events, or have high levels of seasonality in their business model. Managed cloud hosting helps by allowing these companies to “turn up” resources to cope with increased demand then “turn down” when the demand passes. This elasticity – the ability to “cloud burst” – is a huge driver for many businesses and will be significantly more cost-effective than buying hardware that is only used for a short portion of any given year.
Application Upgrades or Performance Issues
Organisations do not always upgrade software (e.g. Exchange) to the latest software load immediately, resulting in expensive hardware upgrades. Others are experiencing hardware-related performance issues with applications that are putting a strain on server infrastructure. This is often a driver for migrating to the cloud as it means companies can focus on managing apps and leave the hardware challenge to us.
Compliance or Regulatory Challenges
Information security is a significant legal, regulatory and compliance challenge. Some industries have best practice guidelines or accreditations that are even more stringent. The cloud offers ways to achieve compliance but also threats – for many, they need to work with UK-based managed cloud hosting providers operating ISO27001 compliant datacentres.
Requirement for Development or UAT Environment
Some of the earliest cloud pioneers were “test and dev” users and it remains a major driver today. The ability to spin up production quality environments to write code and for User Acceptance Testing – with the ability to migrate easily into a live environment – for a limited amount of time, is a compelling driver for cloud hosting.
Eliminate Hardware Ownership/Move to Opex
Many IT departments now focus on managing applications and users and using managed services to deliver the IaaS enabling components. This may be due to a business focus on core competencies, the desire to move away from hardware upgrade cycles or a financial desire to move to an operating expenditure model with predictable monthly recurring charges replacing capex spikes.
Coping with Uncertainty and Change
In an unpredictable world, the flexibility of cloud services is appealing to companies that do not know how their organisation is likely to evolve in the future. Moving from 5 year depreciation cycles to annual or even monthly service charges allows companies to scale up or down as their business expands, contracts or changes focus.
Many companies have several of these drivers in mind when considering cloud. They also need to consider their own ability to implement (e.g. are they looking for self-service or a managed service), the service levels they need (e.g. are they looking for a “production” environment for mission-critical application hosting or is it a “test and dev” environment where SLAs are less important).
To help with these questions, and others, we have developed our Cloudchoice tool to take you through the top-level issues and options. And any good hosting provider should have expert help at hand to provide advice on your specific requirements and preferences.