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Things that every CEO needs to know when switching to the cloud

Jun 30, 2019

Cloud computing has, partly due to the relatively low costs and a high degree of scalability, been booming. Cloud services and solutions are taking over the role of traditional on-premises environments at more and more companies. But what do you, as a CEO, need to know when you switch to the cloud as a company? What are the most important points to keep in mind? And how will you make maximum use of the benefits that the cloud offers? We will explain this to you, in this blog article.

The drive

Low start-up and maintenance costs are certainly benefits of the cloud. However, cost-saving is not the only reason to embrace the cloud. Think carefully, clearly and critically about the reasons that drive your choice for the cloud. Is the cloud really interesting for my company? And why? What problems do I want to solve by transferring my IT network to the cloud? Do I want to reduce the footprint of my data center or, in particular, to become more agile and flexible in the IT field?

These types of questions must be answered in the preparatory phase. The cloud is not a magical silver bullet that automatically solves all IT problems or bottlenecks within your organization. Getting everything off-the-shelf without changing your mindset is a disaster recipe when it comes to switching from on-premises to the cloud.

“Concerning implementation, working in the cloud has a lot of similarities with development according to the agile method,” says Marko Barić, managing director at Typeqast Croatia. “In both cases, a culture change is needed to get the maximum return from the new working processes. The CEO is the person par excellence for cultivating the right cloud mindset within an organization. He must stand behind his plans and people and translate the newly mapped course into the workplace. This means that you inspire and prepare employees (by training and instructions) for the upcoming changes and new working processes and methods.”

The cloud has many benefits

If you want to switch to the cloud, it is important that you, as CEO, are well aware of the benefits and possibilities that are associated with such a move. Time to take a look at the most important benefits of cloud computing.

  • You save time and effort because you don’t have to build an entire IT infrastructure in advance. You only use what you need at any time, so you can save on installation costs, overhead and upfront planning.
  • In the case of on-premises, your IT infrastructure gets stuck to a certain predefined concept. That is not the case in the cloud. Cloud technology offers all possibilities to quickly scale up or down, depending on current needs. The IT infrastructure can be quickly adapted to fluctuating business needs and new market developments. Do you need other applications or have new applications been developed for the cloud? Then you can turn it on or off at lightning speed.
  • The cloud comes with significantly lower costs than an extensive on-premises infrastructure. You no longer have to invest in servers, but you also need fewer staff members because the need for data engineers disappears for the most part.
  • Testing is important when developing any type of software. The cloud also simplifies and improves this part of the development process. In the cloud, you can do things on a scale that is simply not or hardly attainable in terms of capacity in your own data center.
  • Disaster recovery and safety are important issues for every company. “Especially when building highly scalable applications, the cloud is safer than on-premises,” says Marko Barić. “Within the cloud, you can find the best engineers in every area and within every specialty. You can safely assume that the larger cloud providers hire the best engineers that can be found worldwide. Your own team can never match all that bundled knowledge. “
  • Pay attention to flexibility.
    Flexibility is both an important advantage and an important condition for adopting cloud-based solutions. The right cloud solution for your organization, for example, depends on factors such as:
    – organizational dynamics;
    – capacity requirement;
    – changing laws and regulations;
    – internal factors such as geographical availability, security, and reliability.

As you can see, it is important to properly chart the specifics of your organization before you make the final switch to the cloud. For example, it may also be the case that your organization thrives better on a hybrid form. This is largely based on a cloud-based approach, but also offers some services and applications on-premises.

Develop a consistent management approach

A consistent and heterogeneous management approach is an important requirement for adopting solutions in the cloud. Develop a good and clear management plan for dealing with issues such as policy and governance, monitoring, service and risk management.

Regarding the latter, you are better off in the cloud than on-premises. You receive automatic updates that are performed by top people. The larger cloud providers in particular, make use of top-level engineers who are priceless for many companies. This does not mean that using a cloud platform completely eliminates the risk of security breaches, but that applies to every IT system.

Know the laws and regulations

It is also important to be well aware of the laws and regulations that apply within your industry before you switch to the cloud. Are there any supervisory organizations (such as the DNB or Financial Markets Authority) that draw up certain rules? How does a cloud provider fulfill its obligations outside the law regarding information security and data storage? For example, legislation may prescribe that your data may only be stored in the Netherlands or within the European Union. In such a case, it may not be wise to work with a service provider that uses globally distributed data centers.

Realize that your IT infrastructure is changing

As a CEO, you need to be aware that a switch to the cloud will radically change your IT infrastructure. The IT activities get a different dynamic that you need to be well prepared for. According to tech journalist Andrew McAfee (Harvard Business Review), the switch from on-premises to cloud computing is even comparable to the impact that the transition from steam to electrical energy has had on large-scale manufacturing processes.

If you switch from on-premises to the cloud, you can expect the changes below.

  • The management of hardware (think of servers) largely disappears if you opt for the cloud.
  • IT management in the cloud is no longer about disks, memory, technical management, and application security. Those tasks are primarily the responsibility of cloud service providers.
  • IT management in a cloud environment is mainly about the right settings that suit your company and about establishing links to other environments or software packages. The complexity is mainly in the number of institutions and interconnections. The emphasis in the cloud is therefore much more on technology and innovation than on hardware.

You keep control over the data access

A common misconception is that working in the cloud gives you less control over who has access to (important) company data. However, that fear has no roots in reality. Most cloud solutions allow you to determine yourself who has access to certain data. Systems such as AWS and Azure have an authorization system with which the account owner can set for each employee what exactly this team member can see and do. For example, you can give engineers full access to all technology-related segments and data, but only make financial data transparent for accountants.

What about the cloud skills of my employees?

In order to manage your cloud and benefit from cloud migration on a structural basis, it is important that people with the necessary cloud skills walk around within the organization. This means that they can handle popular cloud platforms such as AWS or Azure. Are those cloud skills not yet available or only available to a limited extent? Then it is the CEO’s job to facilitate employees so that they can master the new technology. Fortunately, that is very well possible with special tutorials and guides, a platform such as the Cloud Academy, company training or special certification processes.

Know your responsibilities and those of the cloud provider

When you switch to the cloud, the cloud provider takes over certain tasks and responsibilities that were previously arranged in-house. The extent to which that happens largely depends on the cloud model that you choose.

  • In the case of IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), the cloud provider is responsible for managing and securing the IT infrastructure. You yourself remain responsible for the application layer, application stack and the user part of your IT network.
  • With the PaaS model (Platform as a Service), the cloud provider takes over even more tasks from you but as a company, you remain responsible for securing applications.
  • If you choose SaaS (Software as a Service), the cloud provider takes care of installation, maintenance, and management. The user accesses the software over the internet at the SaaS provider. The software and hardware are not installed at the customer but the SaaS provider. The customer has access to the software via the internet or a private network. The cloud provider also takes care of application management, such as backing up, maintaining and installing new versions/updates and securing systems against unauthorized access. The customer does not have to purchase any software or hardware but pays the provider for its use.

To steer the transition to the cloud in the right direction it is, of course, important that you as CEO know exactly what the different models entail and which one best suits your organization. So perform thorough research before you completely transfer your IT infrastructure to the cloud.

The cost model is changing

A CEO must also be well aware that the cloud has a different cost model than on-premises. In the case of the cloud, the buy-and-go model that has been used in physical data centers for decades makes way for a pay-as-you-go model. This means that you only pay for services and functionalities that you will actually use. For example, many software companies charge extra money for virtual machines running in the cloud or extra licensing costs for additional software.
It is important that you, as a CEO, have a clear idea of which services, functionalities, and licenses you need to achieve your business goals. This way you get get the best out of the cloud, and you also realize the considerable savings that are possible if you use a proper and clearly defined cloud strategy.

Conclusion: good preparation is half the battle

In terms of price, scalability, flexibility, and security, the cloud has major advantages over an IT infrastructure that runs on-premises. But a switch to the cloud requires good preparation. To steer the transition into the right direction, it is important for a CEO to have a clear idea of the cloud strategy to be pursued and to have an understanding of the costs, finances, and responsibilities that are associated with a cloud-based approach. In addition, you must create a culture and mindset that prepares employees for the cloud.

Do you want to know more about the many possibilities and benefits of the cloud? Then you are at the right place at Typeqast. We specialize in building customized IT solutions that run in the cloud. So feel free to contact us for affordable and high-quality cloud applications that perfectly match your business objectives.