Author: Dob Todorov, CEO HeleCloud
March 2020 has been an especially turbulent month: we've seen the global COVID-19 pandemic turning the world as we know it upside down, threatening the health, wellbeing, and even - the lives of billions of people, stretching some of the most capable health systems in the world well beyond their limits, and shutting down large parts of the economy, thus sending markets into turmoil. The widespread expectation is that the world economy is going to contract by as much as 25% in Q2 and early Q3, before it rebounds. If we zoom into this macroeconomic picture, we'll see customer and business demand become much more dynamic than what we've ever known: from the sudden spikes in demand for hand sanitisers to the sudden drops in bookings for the travel and hospitality industries - conditions that will be challenging and some may not survive unless they take a new approach to doing business. Companies will be cutting costs yet expecting to continue to deliver at full capacity and performance, with the best possible user experience. It is highly unlikely that we'll continue to see businesses - young and old - behave in their traditional ways going forward.
In this time of extreme uncertainty and rapidly changing market conditions, it is important to review the benefits of Cloud, and confirm how they help organisations of different sizes go through the times of hardship and emerge unscathed after the crisis:
Focus on Core Business
Unless your core business is to build and operate datacentres, perhaps it's best to have someone else do this on your behalf. If your business is financial services, retail, or citizen services (such as central and local government, or healthcare),you can likely benefit from a partner that can take ownership of all the heavy lifting associated with building and managing datacentres, buying and managing hardware and software licenses and keeping the lights on, as well as managing physical security. Your IT team is best positioned to provide the governance and oversight for such a partner, as well as managing your own applications and systems, however definitely moving up the stack, and only taking ownership of activities that are contextually relevant to you. This helps with focus, expertise, costs, and ultimately - business results under any market conditions. Cloud allows organisations of all sizes to focus on their core business strengths.
Elasticity & Pay for What You Use
One of the most pronounced benefits of true utility computing, which is only possible in Public Cloud, is the pay-per-use billing model. Organisations that require more resources (likely due to increasing customer demand) can dial up their resources, and then dial them back down when they subside. And they can do so every minute if they wanted to - not once a year, or once a quarter. For a business that has daily peaks and troughs, or experiences weekly/monthly/annual seasonality, this is a huge benefit as it trumps the requirement for peak capacity, and allows organisations to provision just in time, however much is needed, then shrink back down. This is a huge benefit in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, where customer demand - whether extremely low or extremely high - cannot and should not be predicted.
Innovation & Risk Taking
Most organisations need to innovate and create the products, services, capabilities and business models that will make them successful tomorrow. Public Cloud has been and continues to be the best place to innovate and take risks. When it comes to innovation, AWS release more than 2000 new features a year, and many of them have no parallel in the conventional world of IT. Most modern IT innovation takes place in the Public Cloud, and that's where the IT leaders and their staff want to be. Furthermore, by definition, innovation carries a high degree of risk; if the risk is not high, perhaps the innovation is not ambitious enough. The question is how much is at stake when such risks are being taken. In the Public Cloud, a project takes hours to launch, may take months to run (but costs will likely be in the hundreds or thousands of dollars - depending on the infrastructure), and if unsuccessful, the losses are limited and often much more palatable than doing it on premises, where infrastructure costs are most often prohibitive. If successful, the benefits would likely more than cover for the R&D costs in the Cloud. Thus, Cloud is a much better platform to innovate on from a risk perspective too.
Time to Market
Resources in the Cloud are at our fingertips, and one can provision compute, storage, database and networking resources, as well as higher level services - AI/ML including - within minutes. Users interact with Cloud using APIs, which allow them to provision, deprovision, and manage resources programmatically and with a high degree of automation and do so across geographies if needed. There is no need to launch RFPs, consider lead times, factor in risk buffers, manage suppliers, manage capacity: it's all there, available on tap, now. Those businesses that have great ideas, are data-driven, and are brave to execute will be most successful and serve their customers best in the current economic conditions.
Resilience and Business Continuity
IT and wider business resilience (including availability and business continuity) have always been important but now more than ever. The ability to continue to operate when one (or more) system components are down, or one or more individuals are not available to carry out their duties will be critical for many businesses so that they continue to provide high quality products and services, and in order to be competitive and successful in the times of the crisis. With its unparalleled IT systems resilience capabilities - including the individual hardware and software components, datacentre failure, a whole region failure (such as an entire geographic area going through critical times), and even - the failure of an entire continent are all scenarios that one can address in the Cloud in a uniform, predictable, and controlled fashion. This is not even remotely possible in conventional datacentres, where at best most organisations have a primary and a standby facility.
Another important consideration in today's market conditions is remote working: many organisations are not setup for that. At the same time, it is very straightforward in a Cloud-based environment to establish and manage VDI environments that allow remote workers to access their corporate resources from home, even from their home computers and still benefit from a secure and configured to corporate standards environment and without compromise to company policies and security and compliance standards.
Cloud Services are available on five continents and are delivered in a uniform fashion regardless of where customers and organisations reside; Public Cloud is based on standards. Thus, even an SME with limited presence in the UK can deliver services to customers in the Americas and Asia, and a large enterprise can serve their global customer base in a uniform fashion. Cloud is a utility and organisations consume it in the same way as for electricity, regardless of where they reside.
Cost efficiency is especially important for every organisation - large or small. It is one of the main reasons why organisations migrate to Public Cloud. Hyperscalers, such as AWS, have very significant buying power when it comes to hardware, software licenses, networking capacity. In a retail-fashion, they pass savings that they make to their millions of customers, thus further improving their buying power. Consequently, this flywheel approach allows them to continue to bring costs down, far better than any other organisation. For most organisations, leveraging the buying power of a hyperscaler is the best approach of optimising costs, combined with utility-based use of Cloud services. In the times of a global pandemic, costs are likely to be one of the most significant considerations that companies will need to consider. Public Cloud continues to be the most cost-efficient platform for all companies.
Security & Compliance
Cloud is the most Secure and Compliant platform for virtually any organisation. Due to the high degree of standardisation, the unparalleled size of the infrastructure, as well as the high degree of automation, Cloud services providers are able to raise the bar, and continue to do so for security and compliance. Another very important reason for the higher level of security in the Cloud is that each and every new customer's requirements often benefit all other customers. Even a startup in London’s Shoreditch would benefit from the same level of security enjoyed by the UK Home Office, both as customers of AWS. In a world of shrinking IT budgets (and therefore - security and compliance spend), and higher requirements for Cyber security, as well as while facing growing Cybercrime syndicates propelled by the inevitable recession that the global markets are going to be in for a large part of 2020, organisations can only be successful in protecting their data and services in the Public Cloud.
How do I benefit from Cloud?
We at HeleCloud specialise in helping organisations transform their businesses in the Cloud. Do get in touch and we’d be happy to help, immediately, and with all of our customer obsession.