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Cultural Change

Cloud disruptions: Want better control over Cloud changes?

Sheldon Smith
©istockphoto.com/Nastco

Cultural change and cost management are still big hurdles for companies new to the Cloud. To increase the success of external cloud services, companies first need to look inward, says Sheldon Smith.

The cloud is disruptive. Both pundits and opponents have said the same thing for years – and despite almost a decade spent evolving and maturing, tech sources like Smart Data Collective still rank the cloud as a top-five disruptor this year. What is often overlooked in talk about how cloud services will change resource distribution and access, however, are discussions of internal changes that fundamentally affect the way companies process data and interact with technology. As a result, maximizing off-site investment starts by looking inside company walls.

Infrastructure restructuring

Perhaps the biggest change to internal processes stems from infrastructure. Many companies overlook this challenge because at first glance, it seems the cloud should act as addition, not replacement, for underlying infrastructure. As noted by Smarter Computing, however, one of the main benefits of cloud computing stems from agility – the ability to move data at will, increase resources on demand, and utilize multiple cloud services simultaneously.

As a result, internal network infrastructure also undergoes a change; network devices must be able to handle increased bandwidth load and in many cases the marriage of existing and new technology isn’t seamless. As a result, it’s a good idea to increase “test environments” that allow IT staff and front-line employees to familiarize themselves with the cloud – but without any risk to critical systems.

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Cost management

Another internal shift that your company needs to address? Cost. Companies typically enter cloud agreements with some understanding of cost and spending impacts. For example, one often repeated concept is that cloud computing effectively negates CapEx spending in favor of OpEx – instead of spending to upgrade and eventually purchase new hardware, organizations pay for resources and service, while providers take care of hardware maintenance and replacement.

Yet this is only half the story. Over the long term, OpEx costs begin to add up and the cloud market is now mature enough that companies are starting to get a view of long-term spend – and in many cases, going cloud comes with a bigger price tag than staying on site. However, companies are also looking beyond dollar and cents to the value of time provided by the cloud; when employees don’t have to spend hours or days looking for a particular resource or service, they’re far more productive, in turn reducing total spend. Getting a handle on evolving cloud costs is essential before making any large-scale move.

Security Evolution

The story has been repeated so often that many companies assume it’s true: Data is less secure in the cloud. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that cloud services are at least – if not more – secure than physical servers. Why? Because cloud vendors have a vested interest in making sure that customer data is well-protected, something they achieve through the use of strong encryption for data both in transit and at rest. Many providers also offer “zero knowledge” solutions that provide access only to specified local personnel; not even provider admins can access company data.

What does this mean internally? That company business processes may need to change. For example, many businesses now offer CISOs and CIOs a seat at the C-suite table, and security spending is often a hot-button topic. Leveraging a secure cloud, however, changes the nature of this discussion and may impact the amount of security spend needed, in addition to the type of testing required to verify secure data practices are in place.

Cultural Change

As noted by Cloud Tech, the most critical internal shift stems from necessary cultural change. With 82 percent of enterprises now implementing a hybrid cloud strategy, many companies assume that employee and executive familiarity with these technologies means that there’s a de facto understanding of how they will affect day-to-day processes.

In actuality, however, companies must take an active role in preparing for cloud deployment and subsequently making best use of cloud services once they are available. When it comes to front-line employees, for example, this means shifting from emails and documents to full-on cloud collaboration; while executives must make the switch from viewing IT as a cost center to treating the cloud as a platform for innovation and eventually, increased revenue.

Maximizing ROI delivered by external cloud services requires companies to first look inward – adapting infrastructure, cost, security and culture are the hallmarks of cloud success.

Author
Sheldon Smith
Sheldon Smith is a Senior Product Manager at XO Communications. XO provides services such as: Hosted PBX, VoIP, SIP Services, and more. Sheldon has an extensive background in unified communications. Sheldon is know for being strategic minded and for his ability to steer projects to completion.

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