Picking the right cloud could save your business
By Karen Astley, Vice President, APAC, Appian
Tuesday, 01 October, 2019
Forget cloud-or-no-cloud. The market for enterprise software is moving rapidly to the cloud and the conversation has shifted from ‘cloud versus not-cloud’ to ‘what kind of cloud is needed to ensure sustained success?’.
The 80/20 rule
In general terms, cloud computing is proving to be the fastest way to deliver enterprise applications as a service over the internet. Cloud economics are clear: as much as 80% of information technology (IT) resources go towards maintaining software and infrastructure, leaving just 20% to bring new business solutions to drive growth, according to Gartner.
Moving to the cloud allows organisations to refocus IT dollars and resources towards business innovation rather than maintenance, altering that formula in a positive way.
In addition to low start-up costs, cloud deployments allow organisations to better manage the lifetime cost of a solution. The flexibility to scale up or shrink with changes in business needs and workflow demands sets a minimal cost-to-profit ratio and helps optimise operations.
Things get more interesting when you have to choose a cloud platform, because most vendors tend to talk about features: scalability, security and performance. Here’s what you can look for to ensure you pick the right cloud for your business.
A holistic approach to the cloud
A holistic approach to the cloud is important because organisations across the globe — from a variety of industries and government agencies — need their important business applications always on, scalable, secure and compliant.
In addition, customers also need to deal with the application lifecycle, releases and updates, so they need enterprise-calibre tools and support. They shouldn’t have to worry about infrastructure maintenance, operating system updates, security patches and application platform updates — the cloud solution should take care of all that.
The bottom line is that the cloud shouldn’t be viewed as a patchwork of individual parts or features; instead, everything should be ‘baked in’ in the context of the whole cloud and application platform, so that organisations can dedicate their time and resources to innovate, compete and create business value.
Paying attention to critical areas
With this holistic approach in mind, it’s worth noting that your business operations depend on the cloud, so it needs to be designed to maximise uptime to provide service for as long as possible without interruption. High availability configurations and continuous monitoring ensure enterprise availability requirements are always met.
It’s also fair to say that very few things can be worse than the loss of production data. Replication, high availability (again) and data backups to safe locations are a must. All this needs to happen while maintaining regulatory compliance — like keeping data within a chosen geographic location.
Keeping things safe
We live in an extremely challenging environment and data security and privacy are a big deal. It doesn’t take much effort to look at the news every day and find customer or business data compromised or stolen at a hotel chain, a retail store or even a credit report agency. All data, in transit or at rest, must be encrypted. Access to it must be tightly controlled and managed. Integration from the cloud to on-premises or third-party external systems must be secured, managed and monitored, and other capabilities like ‘bring your own [encryption] key’ are a significant plus.
To complicate matters further, cloud vendors share resources sometimes, like storage among different customers, due to the multitenant nature of their offerings. This is a no-no. Isolation of customer instance and storage is important for keeping everything safe.
Your cloud provider needs to run comprehensive security and compliance programs, with frequent external audits that validate security controls work as they should.
Peace of mind
Finally, even when everything works as expected, top-notch enterprise level support with global, around-the-clock coverage is needed to resolve issues or plan for application releases or updates.
What it all comes down to is this: picking the right cloud could be what saves your business. It’s an existential issue. Your cloud must be enterprise grade and offer the security, availability, scalability and support you need to compete and win in the fast-moving digital economy. It should also go above and beyond with dedicated, single-tenant virtual machine instance(s), high uptime and availability guarantee, zero data loss, disaster recovery, on-demand instances, portability of enterprise data and solutions, use of a variety of authentication models, a comprehensive security and compliance program, continuous monitoring, regular vulnerability testing, a secure virtual private network (VPN) tunnel, and strong encryption and data isolation.
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