lnterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), one of the world’s largest hotel chains, has used the cloud to efficiently deliver services to its 5,221 properties in more than 100 countries. US-based movie-streaming provider Netflix has deployed cloud to track its users and organize its substantial movie catalog. And Germany-based engineering firm Maritime Offshore Group adopted cloud solutions to give employees access to the critical data they needed to work from anywhere.
“The cloud makes it much easier for us to check data quality, define and manage work and collaborate with colleagues virtually if there’s a construction problem,” said Tobias Schmidt, design engineer at Maritime Offshore Group. “The user experience is better because I can access data wherever I am, and the intuitive interface means I only see the apps I need.”
IHG, Netflix and Maritime Offshore Group are not the only companies reaping the rewards of the cloud – more than 80% of organizations are now following a cloud-first strategy for new applications, according to “Building Trust in the Cloudy Sky,” a survey by Intel Security and McAfee. So, what’s inhibiting the movement of legacy applications? Less and less, experts agree, and those fears that remain are largely unfounded.
Here are the leading concerns and counterpoints:
CONCERN 1: KEEPING DATA SECURE
For years, security has regularly topped the list of cloud adoption inhibitors.
COUNTERPOINT: Cloud provider RightScale’s 2017 “State of the Cloud Survey” found that just 25% of organizations remain concerned about security, down from 29% in 2016. Meanwhile, Gartner’s “Predicts 2017: Cloud Security” report forecasts that by 2018, enterprises that use cloud infrastructures will experience 33% fewer security failures than those that do not.
“All the major security breaches in the past few years have been attacks on traditional on-premise systems, suggesting they’re less secure,” said David Linthicum, senior vice president of US-based cloud consultants Cloud Technology Partners. “Cloud providers understand the best ways to protect data and IT systems, so they offer the best possible built-in security features at a fraction of the price of traditional security software.”
CONCERN 2: UNIQUE BUSINESS NEEDS
Traditionally, organizations have heavily customized on-premise IT systems to meet industry- or company-specific business needs, resisting the standardization of cloud environments.
COUNTERPOINT: Standardization has proven to be one of the cloud’s fundamental benefits. In its study “The CIO in 2017: Challenges and Opportunities of Cloud Migration,“ IT services provider Trustmarque found that 56% of respondents actually cited the complexity of their on-premise IT infrastructure as a business inhibitor.
“Heavily customized systems can limit an organization’s ability to quickly address changing business conditions,” said Lim May-Ann, executive director of the Asia Cloud Computing Association. “However, cloud platforms are malleable, so they can be adapted and scaled as business, operational, security and compliance requirements evolve. Developers are now creating cloud apps and platforms with built-in modules that can switch on and off so companies can deploy them out of the box, yet still access specialized or industry-specific functions when they need them.”
CONCERN 3: PERFORMANCE LEVELS
Moving from an on-premise to a cloud-based data center in a remote location raises concerns about network latency – a time lag in transmitting data that could hamper productivity, communications and the user experience.
COUNTERPOINT: To minimize latency, IT administrators should select the cloud configuration that best matches their workloads’ performance profile, said Stephan Gillich, director for artificial intelligence and HPC (high-performance computing) at Intel EMEA.
“Many firms have new cloud-native applications that co-exist with legacy applications, and workloads that live both on- and off-premise,” Gillich said. “Hybrid cloud computing unlocks the capabilities businesses need to navigate this complex landscape. Soon, high-capacity 5G – a heterogeneous network of wireless technologies combined with a virtualized core and intelligent edge services – will enable even the smallest devices to perform heavy computational tasks by bringing the cloud to the edge of the network. This is crucial when it comes to implementing technologies like data analytics, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.”
CONCERN 4: VENDOR LOCK-IN
Nearly 80% of IT decision makers cite vendor lock-in as a key factor preventing their organizations from moving to cloud, according to Wakefield Research and Logicwork’s “Roadblocks to Cloud Success” report.
COUNTERPOINT: “The fabric of the digital economy will be built on cloud computing, so companies shouldn’t let possible vendor lock-in put them off,” said Mark Skilton, professor of Practice, Information Systems Management at Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, in the UK. “Short-term contracts are available. Another key to reducing lock-in is to have well-designed and robust application and program interfaces that can be easily connected to other cloud solutions. Organizations like The Open Group are also driving the open source movement to develop a universal standard for cloud platforms.”
CONCERN 5: HUMAN RESOURCE IMPACTS
Software provider HyTrust’s 2016 cloud adoption survey revealed that 17% of respondents view the cloud as a threat to their jobs.
COUNTERPOINT: According to the 2017 “Microsoft Cloud Skills Report: Closing the Cloud Skills Chasm,” 60% of companies will re-train existing IT staff on cloud skills, many through the help of industry-standard training and certification programs provided by large cloud vendors.
“In my experience, only a small minority of companies have actually laid off staff when they have adopted the cloud,” said Alex Hilton, CEO of the UK-based not-for-profit Cloud Industry Forum (CIF). “In fact, by moving the responsibility for the day-to-day management of their IT and security systems to a third-party cloud vendor, companies can free up their IT administrators to focus on important business priorities. By understanding exactly how the cloud can transform every part of their operations before they commit to a migration, companies can mitigate many of the challenges it raises and quickly become more agile, efficient and competitive.”
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