Once a mere speck on the horizon, the cloud now casts its ubiquitous shadow over the entire business world. Professionals in every industry across the globe have been inundated with hype about what the cloud offers: expanded storage, lean data centers, a higher power that will surround our daily lives support all of our actions.
Which begs the question: is the cloud essentially the ‘Force’ or simply another storage solution? Or maybe the answer falls somewhere in between.
What is the cloud?
Since its inception, the cloud’s definition has narrowed to describe a large system of interconnected networks owned, managed and sold by a commercial entity. This system provides for a virtualized network that can be accessed anywhere and offers scalable power and storage space.
Who’s using it?
Under this common definition, many companies have successfully marketed this system’s scalability to the masses, and many enterprises have been able to off-load the workload of managing data centers onto cloud providers. Stemming from countless industry reports, the consensus is that well over 80% of enterprises with over 1,000 employees have some sort of cloud solution. 451 Research estimates that almost half of all workloads are, in some capacity, run in the cloud. They predict that, within two years, this number will increase to over 60%.
Companies are taking advantage of the cloud, and the cloud will continue to gain new adopters. Some prognosticators have gone so far as to say that on premises data centers are obsolete, but certain limitations hint that the cloud will not eclipse the IT world completely.
What problems could it cause?
Many IT managers have been vocal about the dramatic shift in workflows required when surrendering direct control of data centers. IT professionals can no longer easily access their systems to setup new configurations, ensure updates are handled smoothly, and establish test environments. New abilities are required to maintain a cloud infrastructure like high-level visions of end-to-end infrastructure and communication skills.
Additionally, many cloud service models require companies to provide visibility into their apps, server OS, and patch management. This new relationship poses obvious privacy and security challenges, as companies can no longer troubleshoot issues or ensure sensitive data is treated properly. In particular, this could pose challenges under the upcoming GDPR.
Another issue would be “Shadow IT,” wherein the role of the IT department dissipates and the handling of personal data becomes a messy free-for-all. Likewise, the proverbial trap door of cloud makes internal structure and flexibility difficult. While providers are desperate to bring adopters into their environment, these providers’ wildly different environments often have fundamentally different architectures. While migration services are improving, getting out can be difficult.
The hybrid approach
A hybrid cloud and on-premises solution is gaining traction as a way to combine the benefits of both models while mitigating their risks. It has proven to reduce the costs of IT for enterprises and allow smaller businesses to avoid worrying about the administration of data centers.
With careful analysis, businesses can optimize which workflows and storage solutions are handled by cloud providers while still keeping an accessible data center on site. With the proliferation of complex business and regulatory requirements, a single cloud solution is rarely adequate, and many companies are looking towards diversifying their IT infrastructure.
A “Right Scale” report shows that the hybrid strategy is being rapidly adopted by large companies, as over half of enterprises with greater than 1,000 employees have some kind of multi-cloud strategy. Companies concerned with optimizing spending while maintaining high data governance standards should look closely at the hybrid model. As always, however, due diligence is required when considering what workflows to move to the cloud, how to maintain a low-cost yet engaged IT team, and how to best minimize the risks that come from adding degrees of separation to sensitive data.
The cloud has unlocked new potential for many businesses and caused headaches for others. But the future may be bright for those that refrain from abandoning their on-premises environments entirely and instead adopt a hybrid strategy. To learn more about which infrastructure is best for your organization, talk to one of our experts today.