cloud computing abstract

The case for the cloud: Value, performance and agility

In today’s evolving technological landscape, organizations are turning to cloud computing as a strategic imperative, recognizing its transformative potential in driving value, enhancing performance and fostering unparalleled agility. The shift to the cloud represents a leap from traditional IT infrastructure, offering businesses a dynamic and scalable platform to innovate, collaborate and streamline operations.

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing involves the on-demand delivery of IT resources over the internet with a pay-as-you-go model. This shift from owning and maintaining physical data centers to accessing computing power, storage and databases from a cloud provider marks a fundamental change, allowing users to leverage shared resources rather than owning dedicated hardware.

Traditional on-premises IT setup involves businesses managing their physical components, such as servers and networking hardware, within their own facilities, allowing for localized access, control and management by the organization’s IT team. However, this model possesses challenges such as significant upfront capital expenditures, cumbersome and expensive scaling adjustments and continuous attention and resources needed for security and reliability of on-premises infrastructure.

Cloud computing, exemplified by services like AWS and Azure, has revolutionized the technological landscape, providing users with easy access to on-demand computing capabilities over the internet, offering unprecedented scalability, flexibility and cost-effectiveness. This shift eliminates the need for hands-on management of physical infrastructure, enabling organizations to leverage advanced computing power, storage and services from any location. The flexibility of cloud computing drives innovation, agility and efficiency, serving as a key catalyst in adapting to the dynamic business environment.

How do organizations use the cloud?

Most businesses today are navigating a transformative journey to the cloud, and their approach varies based on unique needs and considerations. Full adoption involves migrating all operations to the cloud for scalability and flexibility, while hybrid strategy combines on-premises and cloud environments, allowing gradual transition. The decision between these approaches often depends on factors like compliance, legacy systems or security concerns. Regardless of the chosen model, the goal is to align technology infrastructure with business objectives, embracing cloud computing’s advantages.

Three concepts are fundamental to understanding how technology is delivered via the cloud:

  1. Software as a service (SaaS) – is a cloud-based, subscription-accessible software that is ready-to-use with the need for local installation or maintenance, as it is delivered directly from the cloud (e.g., Microsoft Office 365, Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications and Salesforce).
  2. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – provides virtualized computing resources, including virtual machines, storage and networking, over the internet, allowing users to rent the essential components for building a digital infrastructure without the need to manage physical servers (e.g., Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Elastic Block Store (ESB), Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure).
  3. Platform as a Service (PaaS) – is a platform offering development frameworks, databases and other tools that facilitate efficient building, testing and deployment of applications for developers, allowing them to focus on coding without the complexities of infrastructure management (e.g., AWS Elastic Beanstalk, AWS App Runner and Azure App Service).

Additionally, shared responsibility is a fundamental concept of cloud technology, particularly regarding security, a core pillar of cloud computing. Applicable to all cloud service providers, the shared responsibility model outlines the distribution of security and compliance duties between customers and the cloud service provider (CSP). The CSP is responsible for the security and availability “of” the cloud infrastructure, while customers are accountable for securing their data, applications and access configurations “in” the cloud, displaying a collaborative approach to maintaining a secure and reliable cloud computing environment.

What are the advantages of cloud computing?

Organizations today are confronted with heightened constraints while being pressured to deliver quality services, with regulated industries required to act with agility to accelerate their digital transformation. This pressure to act quickly, minimize deliberation and invest in digital technologies that disrupt current processes, compels organizations to leverage digital strategy to improve services and overall user experience.

The cloud helps organizations:

  1. Simplify and standardize business workflows: Enhance workforce productivity with streamlined processes, state-of-the-art UI/UX, devise-agnostic design and customizable branding to ensure intuitive day-to-day operations and accommodate diverse needs with the latest tools and technology for a seamless and adaptable experience.
  2. Enable scaled analytics: Utilize out-of-the-box reporting and embedded artificial intelligence for smart predictions with scaled analytics, ensuring a consistent “single source of truth,” to provide accurate and timely analytics and enhance overall visibility and reporting within the organization.
  3. Shorten innovation cycles: Accelerate innovation cycles by facilitating rapid and iterative improvements to technology and business processes through out-of-the-box functionality, app platforms for workflow automation, continuous innovation via regular updates and prebuilt tools for system customization, fostering an environment that shortens innovation cycles and enables efficient adaptation and progress.
  4. Scale rapidly: Flexibly respond to changing needs, easily scale cloud services with standardized processes during high-growth periods and achieve continuous improvement through regular updates ensures dynamic adaption of system functionality to meet evolving business needs.
  5. Increase security and compliance: Enhance organizational security and compliance by delegating updates and security to vendors under the shared responsibility model. Standard industry-compliant cybersecurity, regular updates and encryption "at rest" and "in transit" and having data stored in a more secure location than legacy on-premises systems ensures robust data privacy and security within the cloud infrastructure.
  6. Manage costs: Reduce IT overhead by eliminating the need for dedicated server maintenance, prioritize business operations improvement and ensure cost efficiency through a pay-as-you-go pricing model helps prevent organizations from overpaying for unused resources.

Cloud implementation differences

Traditionally, organizations engage in collaborative discussions with business units to develop processes within their legacy on-premises system, whereas modern cloud applications, particularly enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, offer prepackaged configurations and workflows to streamline the project initiation phase and reduce labor intensity. These preconfigured workflows can then be customized for specific business needs and industry requirements, enhancing adaptability and efficiency.

Additionally, cloud technology is reshaping organizational program management by influencing the adoption of project management office (PMO) tools and policies. To modernize these tools and policies, it’s essential to adopt hybrid implementation methodologies that integrate traditional agile and waterfall approaches; however, the execution of crucial elements such as rigorous quality management and project management may vary depending on the specific implementation cycle and method used.

Similarly, cloud-based change management allows changes to be observed in real-time, eliminating the need to wait for project completion and subsequent testing to address modifications. Organizations can now seamlessly integrate change management throughout their transformation, analyzing each step to track the evolution of systems and processes and note how communication and training will need to change by leveraging cloud technology.

How to get started

Thanks to the transformative nature of the cloud, there has been ongoing growth and innovation within cloud computing with the pace of innovation anticipated to grow faster than ever before. Cloud computing has not only reshaped the way businesses operate, but also fueled leaps in various technological domains, including edge computing, big data, machine learning and the exciting realm of generative artificial intelligence (AI).

At Baker Tilly Digital, we thrive on helping our customers navigate their cloud transformation. Our expertise extends beyond mere solutions; we provide strategic guidance to ensure that businesses not only adopt cloud technologies seamlessly but also leverage them effectively for sustained growth and innovation. Interested in learning more? Contact us today.

This article was derived from The case for the cloud: Value, performance and agility webinar, watch the full recording below. 

Kayla Flint
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