In the past few years, the perception of cloud services has drastically changed. The public cloud was once considered a business risk due to the open connection to the Internet, while} some industry thinkers argued that cloud computing wasn't really valuable if organizations have to keep investing in those solutions and many pointed to problems with visibility and control, especially when it comes to both hosted software and platform as a service.
But now the tide has turned. Decision-makers, business leaders and executives are all asking their IT teams to find cloud-based solutions to replace almost every on-premise system. From cloud storage to Salesforce to hosted voice, enterprise IT lives in the cloud in 2016. And as a result, employees are more productive than ever.
What caused that massive shift in cloud perception? Why have businesses finally accepted the way of the cloud? Let's take a look.
The value of the cloud
The typical argument over the cost of the cloud centers around two things: capital and operational expenditures. If businesses move to the cloud, they won't need to procure and deploy on-premise data centers. Upfront spending on hardware and software licenses could prevent an organization from building a properly sized system from the beginning, and therefore, it could struggle to reach efficiencies of scale. Then there's the side that's for capital expenditures, since this allows companies to more fluidly allocate budgets.
"The cloud affords 'cost agility.'"
While that is a good discussion, there are other valuable benefits of the cloud that some decision-makers are slowly but surely realizing. Gartner's Laurence Goasduff explained those financial opportunities in detail. For one, the cloud affords "cost agility," Goasduff asserted. With cloud services, businesses don't need licenses and can reduce their use with a few clicks.
Second, Goasduff said that when organizations move to the cloud, they don't need to update hardware or software, which saves money in the long run. And lastly, if an entity needs assets on short notice, it can just reduce their cloud spending – with a capex model, that'd be impossible.
Cybersecurity used to be one of the biggest risks holding businesses back from adopting a cloud-based strategy. However, over time, it became apparent that cloud services could not be insecure or organizations would never move their mission-critical data to those hosted systems.
Now, Gartner's Jo Bennett said that all businesses will use the cloud in some way by 2020. And that's because cloud providers can institute better security than the typical organization, and Bennett argued that in most cases, relying on a cloud service's security rather than creating internal processes is more "practical."
Today, cloud security isn't about protecting assets from the public Internet, but rather it depends on employees using cloud services safely and IT teams developing processes that are in compliance with the most important laws and regulations. Additionally, Bennett said that businesses can use the cloud without any data security concerns as long as they have internal IT professionals who understand how to best secure each cloud service. In other words, the cloud isn't insecure if businesses use it intelligently.
IT for the future
The cloud is known for providing organizations with scalable infrastructure. In that regard, cloud services are built with the future in mind. Companies are realizing this as the digital business trend comes to fruition. They must prepare for a world reliant on the Internet of Things and big data. The cloud is the ticket to that future.
The easiest way to collect large quantities of data is with cloud-based solutions such as Salesforce. The best place to store big data is in cloud storage. And the most efficient and cost-effective way to analyze information is with cloud computing power.
Better yet, Dustin Smith, senior product marketing manager at Tableau Software, told CIO contributor Thor Olavsrud that the cloud will allow everyone to get hands-on with big data analytics, making businesses able to harness the power of big data without big data scientists.
"With self-service cloud analytics and data prep now a reality, the chance of letting an individual move data into a cloud ecosystem quickly and easily (and without a technical background) is on the horizon," Smith said. "Simple solutions that largely decouple the complexity of data integration, staging and transformation and focus solely on letting business users drop data into preferred cloud databases and warehouses are on their way."
The future of digital business is here, and all of it will rely on the cloud, meaning there is good reason for cloud computing's rise to fame.