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Is the glamour of cloud compromising business fundamentals?

04 Oct 2018

Article by Nlyte Software chief marketing officer Mark Gaydos

Cloud adoption rates throughout EMEA continue to grow at a steady pace.

In a study conducted by the cloud access security broker (CASB) almost all EMEA organisations surveyed had deployed more than one cloud app, with many having a minimum of one productivity, messaging, or file sync app as well as sharing, and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) capabilities.

Another study conducted by Century Link also highlighted that the cloud computing market is forecast to reach a staggering $411 billion. However, with such a forward momentum towards cloud computing, there is a risk that some basic fundamentals of best practice might be being overlooked in the rush.

Keeping a firm hand on the purse strings

One of the first things any organisation does at inception is to make sure it has enough capital to not only operate – but turn a profit. All expenses including salaries, rent and even the communal biscuits all impact a company’s ability to keep going forward from day to day. It is this financial savvy that keeps all businesses ticking over.

However, while cloud computing can be an affordable option for many organisations looking for storage and application servers, what if costs start to unexpectedly rise? If an organisation starts to place more and more of its data and applications with a third party, there could come a time when the third party has to increase its costs.

Yet, because all an organisation’s systems and data are stored with that third party, it might have no choice but to accept the increases, or spend even more time and money financing a migration away at an inconvenient moment.

One solution to this is to invest in an on-premise infrastructure instead of moving to the cloud. Although there are construction costs up front to build and maintain, it is often the least volatile option, especially as an organisation can plan its future expenses more accurately.

No time for downtime

Downtime can often be the biggest killer for any organisation. A complete and utter loss of operating ability can impact not only profits, but future profits (depending on how long downtime persists) and reputation – which can have an even greater impact in the memory of corporate clients.

Of course, this is the worst-case scenario for an organisation, and when partnering with a third-party cloud provider an organisation must be able to ensure that the third-party can guarantee that the data will be safe and accessible at all times.

Earlier this year for example, parts of Amazon Web Services’ US-East-1 region experienced 30 minutes of downtime which, while small, impacted thousands of customers. Some of those customers have seen instances where their data was unrecoverable. This is possible game-ending stuff for the relationship with that provider, and perhaps even for the impacted organisation itself.

Any organisation that relies heavily on its data and applications could find it difficult to hand over all such data to a third party. A possible compromise is to look at a hybrid on-premise/cloud strategy.

Cloud computing can be used to host non-critical data or applications while mission-critical data can be kept within an estate controlled in-house. This will ensure that the organisation has full control over the most important data while leaving the rest with a trusted third party. Useful for costs and control at the same time.

GDP-Arrrrggghhhhhhhhh

2018 brought about one of the biggest changes to data governance and use that we have ever seen: GDPR.

GDPR or its longer title, the ‘General Data Protection Regulation’ was enforced on the 25th May to strengthen the data rights of European Union (EU) residents, increasing data protection of consumers throughout the union.

It means that all organisations doing business inside or with the EU that handle residents’ data must work within the new GDPR regulations. Should an organisation flout the rules it could face heavy fines of €20 million or four per cent of annual global turnover, whichever is highest. This can have irrevocable damage, financially and reputationally, should the worst occur.

But the kicker for the primary organisation is that if its data is handled by a third party who breaches the regulations, the primary organisation will still face the repercussions bringing with it all the possible front-page headlines, fines and impacts on future operations.

However, one way to combat this is for an organisation to work with a solution that can manage and monitor the physical computing infrastructure that maintains the sensitive data, as part of the data governance process.

Having this ability to track physical IT infrastructure where the data resides, how those physical assets are managed and maintained, and who has made changes to those resources, will help make sure data remains GDPR compliant and fine-free.

This is also an important step for a primary organisation – should it hold GDPR sensitive data because, of course, they too fall under the regulations.

Making a measured calculation

Moving to the cloud is a viable option for many organisations. It can bring much needed cost savings, efficiency and flexibility. And the future agility and good operations of many organisations depends on it, no doubt.

However, it is important to weigh up business needs when it comes to investing in cloud computing: It’s not all about cost and speed – it’s also about data and application uptime, service levels, and good governance.

Innovation is the bedrock of the technology industry, but it is only innovative when it helps keep an organisation moving forward. An organisation must first and foremost keep to its business objectives and fundamentals when picking its technology provisions.

The cloud is great – if it’s the right fit. Hybrid is still an option with great flexibility!

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