Depending on whom you ask, you may get vastly different explanations of ‘the cloud’. But a matter of fact is that the vast majority of us have interacted with cloud technology at some point, whether knowingly or not. To many people, the cloud is simply cloud storage like Dropbox or iCloud. While cloud storage is certainly one of the most iconic mainstream products made possible by the technology, it is so much more than that.
For simplicity, I will focus on the more common public cloud platforms. Defined as computing services offered by third-party providers over the public Internet, making them available to anyone who wants to use or purchase them. A few of the biggest names in this field (and are operating in Canada) include Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, and Google Cloud.
I define the cloud as the embodiment of hyperscale computing technology. Simply put, the ‘cloud’ refers to massive internet-connected datacentres scattered around the globe. They provide scalable computer system resources for customers to use on-demand. Such resources are data storage, computing power, and software as a service.
These centralized locations allow for significant economies of scale shared with many customers. Meaning that businesses can gain access to extra computer system resources in a more agile manner, all while sharing the burden of the cost with other customers on the platform. For many organizations, this eliminates the need to establish and maintain on-premises infrastructures such as hardware and applications.
Think of the Cloud as Modern Power Companies
As co-founder and CEO of Invero, a Microsoft cloud digital advisory company, I have used this analogy to help explain the cloud over the past decade. The emergence of cloud computing is much like the transformation that power companies experienced at the turn of the 20th century.
Where electricity generation shifted from the many local establishments serving limited areas to single massive nuclear power plants that provide affordable electricity to entire cities.
Similarly, we’re seeing a shift in computing technology from on-premises infrastructure that power the computing needs of one or two business at most, to massive datacentres that power the needs of hundreds or thousands of businesses at a time.
What Are the Benefits of Moving from On-Premises to Cloud?
Most public cloud platforms operate on a pay-as-you-go model. This means that you are only paying for exactly what you need, when you need them. Instead of having to invest in expensive equipment on-premises that may end up being underutilized. Companies moving to the cloud can start with only the resources that are required for current needs, keeping initial costs low and easily scaling up when the extra capacity is needed to fit
changing demands at any time.
Increased Collaboration & Remote Access
Implementing cloud technology enables increased collaboration and allows work to be done anywhere with an internet connection, providing greater level of flexibility and shared access to information.
Cybersecurity & Disaster Recovery
Without data being stored locally, cybersecurity and disaster recovery becomes much easier and more affordable in the cloud, especially for small businesses with limited resources.
Big Data & IoT
Some of the industries that benefit the most from cloud technology include those in the business of big data processing and IoT (Internet-of-Things). Fitbit is a good example of a company that utilizes the cloud to process health data from its millions of users every day. Wearable devices with limited built-in processing power would be a lot less useful if they were only collecting data without the means to turn it into meaningful insights for every individual user.
The COVID-19 pandemic that hit the globe in 2020 is another good demonstration of the power of the cloud. In strategical and tactical attempts to combat the pandemic, healthcare professionals made use of various computer simulations that project the potential spread of the virus using data collected from devices around the world.
Processing such a massive amount of data is traditionally difficult and resource intensive, requiring access to a supercomputer. This is why many of the simulations made use of the cloud for the extra processing power needed on-demand. In a way, the cloud played a big part in allowing the world to react to the pandemic swiftly and simultaneously.
Should I Move to the Cloud?
‘Dark to Cloud’ and Digital Transformation
‘Dark-to-cloud’ is a term that we in the industry use to describe businesses that want to modernize their operations with cloud technology but don’t currently have a cloud presence. What is important to understand is that the successful implementation of cloud technology requires careful planning to determine a suitable solution that achieves your specific goals in a cost-effective manner. It is essential that a tailored strategy be established as a foundation to guide your digital transformation process and cloud journey.
The other aspect that often gets overlooked is access to skilled personnel that can maintain your newly established system, making ongoing optimization that takes evolving demands and needs into account. Ultimately, the best way to ensure longevity and positive return on your investment is careful planning and constant innovation to stay competitive.
If you are a dark-to-cloud business thinking of migrating to the cloud. I recommend reading more about why so many companies are doing so before moving forward.