As technology continues to progress at pace, more of the business that we do is housed online. And, as a result, using the cloud is becoming one of the business technology essentials. With cloud computing set to be worth more than $800 billion by 2025, the use of this technology is only going to continue to grow.
So, if you’re looking to integrate the cloud into your business strategy, the best time to start is right now. The most comprehensive way to do this is to adopt something known as a Cloud-First Strategy. Over the course of this article, we’ll define exactly what that is and highlight some of the benefits you could find by adopting one.
What Is a Cloud-First Strategy?
Defining the thing you’re analysing the value of is always advisable. If you’re moving to remote working, understanding “what is video conferencing?” is important. Similarly, when introducing a new system of data entry, you need to know how it works before jumping into it.
So, to make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s define a cloud-first strategy. Simply put, this means moving all or most of your infrastructure onto a cloud-computing platform. There are many of these available to businesses, from AWS to Microsoft Azure.
Where companies have used physical resources in the past to store their online data, now they store it on the cloud, something inherently more functional. Regardless of size or importance, cloud-first businesses are geared towards running their operation through cloud servers.
Now that we’re clear on what a cloud-first strategy is, let’s take a look at why they’re so popular.
Benefit #1: Cost
It’s a tale as old as time itself, but the fact remains that in business, the bottom line is everything. Whether it’s the cost of taking on new employees, the cost of new premises, or VoIP cost, being conscious of your new outgoings is vital.
And adopting a cloud-first strategy, as opposed to housing all of your data on physical server clusters, can prove cost-effective.
Unless you’re the very largest of computer users, cloud computing comes at a much cheaper cost than renting or owning physical spaces, on top of then finding affordable web hosting services, and expenses like water and electricity. As well as this, if you’re a business that happens to not operate in a major city, the connectivity it provides is second to none.
With major cloud companies, the cost of using their service is also transparent, and hidden costs are rare. And the smaller the cost of something that fulfils the same purpose, the more money your business can make.
Benefit #2: Scalability
Cost is a key element in deciding on the future of your business. But other factors should also be evaluated before you take the plunge. Scalability is one such consideration.
If your website experiences a surge in demand, for whatever reason, non-cloud-based infrastructure can see that it becomes glitchy. It can be the case that this growth impacts the usability of your entire operation. And expanding your server to accommodate this uptick in traffic often involves manual intervention.
Through auto-scaling, cloud-based systems don’t suffer from any of these drawbacks. Once it is seen that your website is experiencing an increased service level, the cloud provider automatically moves you up to the next tier. It may mean that you pay more for that service, but with more customers coming to your site, these increased costs are more often than not worth it.
Benefit #3: Recovery
No one likes to think about setbacks or issues that can arise, but in business they are often unavoidable. When based online, anything from hackers to natural disasters can cause your data or information to be lost. When you use physical storage systems, these are often irretrievable.
If they’re stored on the cloud, this isn’t the case. Things like hardware failures can happen at a moment’s notice and without warning. So having the peace of mind that, whenever one such eventuality hits, your information and resources are safe, is a big benefit to adopting a cloud-first approach.
It also means that recovery time is often quicker than that of information stored on a physical server. You may be comprehensively backed up and have your information saved, but retrieving it in time-sensitives scenarios can prove impossible. So why bother with the hassle, when it can be stored on the cloud instead?
Benefit #4: Reliability
Reliability is something that everyone responds positively to. If you’re a customer, being able to contact someone, should something go wrong with a purchase you’ve made, is equally important. If you’re a business, having a strong call ASA is an advantage in these scenarios.
And here, cloud-based providers come out on top, as well. Where physical hardware, regardless of how well manufactured it is, can go wrong, with no immediate overlay or backup, cloud-based storage has these inbuilt. Meaning that, even if entire data centers go down, there are ways in which your presence, and your information, remains undisturbed.
This is achieved largely through the kind of automatic failovers to backup data centers that the technology of physical servers simply cannot compete with.
Benefit #5: Visibility
Lastly, you need to be able to see what your site or your application is doing, at a glance. It’s possible to do this through physical hardware, but cloud engineering just makes this process a whole lot easier.
With software tools integrated into the core operation of cloud provider’s hardware, these often diverse applications are stored in a single dashboard. In many ways, it’s the screen sharing app to physical hardware’s multiscreen organisational nightmare.
Think of it like the analytics page of a blog, where the alternative is individual data stored across multiple tabs. The cloud-based offering is much slicker, much easier to operate, and to navigate, as a result of it being stored in one, central location.
Benefit #6: Collaboration
With all your information stored in one place on the cloud, operations that exist on a global scale become much easier to coordinate. Teammates, from data analysts to marketers, who are working in remote locations – something likely to become more commonplace, even after the pandemic – are less reliant on the up-to-date nature of their physical hardware.
Cloud-stored information is available to download onto any relevant computer. So, wherever they are in the world, and whenever they have the access or ability to do so, teams of people can ensure they’re constantly dealing with the most recent version of any particular information.
Making the switch to a new way of working is always fraught with concerns. Humans are built to resist change and to enjoy routine and familiarity. But sometimes, these changes are required, because the benefits outweigh any potential negatives to such an obvious degree.
In the case of adopting a cloud-first strategy, this is one such occasion. Above, we’ve outlined the features and numerous benefits of adopting a cloud-first approach to your business’s operations. Now, all that’s left to decide is whether it’s suitable for you.