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Why do businesses go to the cloud, and what do they find there?

why do businesses in the cloud

 

Why do businesses go to the cloud, and what do they find there?

If you are running a business where IT plays a large part in revenue generation (e.g., you deliver your product to clients via a SaaS model), cloud infrastructure is the best way to go. The simplest way to decide whether you should use cloud services or not is to consider this: If you don’t, your competition will, and you will eventually find yourself as an underdog.

 

If you tried to identify the three main reasons for businesses switching to the cloud from the isolated on-premise model (which is still necessary in some cases), the following three are likely to come up:

1. Time to market

A startup gets its infrastructure up and running in no time at all these days. Everything works as if you just needed to plug it in, like an iron and there are sockets everywhere. There’s no waiting for hardware delivery, no negotiations, no reviewing of SLAs, and no time spent estimating capacity (yet). You just focus on building your product, and the cloud makes sure clients will have access to it. Knowing what a pain infrastructure can be at the kick-off stage, the maturity of cloud services is probably the single biggest reason for the billions in revenue cloud providers now earn annually.

2. Cost efficiency

However concerned we are with the margins and profits of AWS and the likes, cloud services are definitely more cost-efficient than any hybrid/on-premises alternatives. Yes, it gets more difficult to manage as your business grows, and if you are not vigilant with your infrastructure expenses, this may become a real burden. But, if you start with a frugal approach, you won’t have to worry about this for a long time – long enough to “cross the chasm” and make your business operational.

3. Turn-key services

This is where the real treat starts. Not only do cloud providers give you infrastructure via a “pay as you go” model (as if you were buying extra cellular traffic from your telecom provider), they also offer you native services.

 

What kind of services? You name it. OCR, video processing, authentication and 2FA, notifications, file storage – whatever you may need to complement your product’s core features, you’ll likely have access to it.

 

So, when you start using cloud infrastructure, these services will be readily available to you. Moreover, it all starts working surprisingly quickly, resulting in a very happy team, which brings us to the second part of the journey.

 

What happens next?

 

Any successful business model has two sides, and cloud services are not an exception. Profits must be coming in, so clients need to spend, ideally, as much as they are willing to and not less. So where does the trouble come from?

1. Buffet

Last year, the total number of services Amazon provided in the scope of their AWS infrastructure was over 150. Today, it already exceeds 200 and counting. The same approach (though slower pace) applies to other large cloud players, such as GCP and Azure.

 

Does your business need this many services? No. Is it easy to pass up these readily available offerings as time goes on? Absolutely not. 

 

It’s like finding yourself at the premium buffet. You are not that hungry, but a plethora of delicious food offerings are right there, ready to eat – so you eat. Your infrastructure bill gets inflated frighteningly fast. A couple of zeros can be added to the end of the monthly payment amount in a matter of months.

2. Margins

Cloud infrastructure is an extremely profitable business, partially due to the boom of venture capital, partially due to large players, such as Meta, making it work for themselves. There are various speculations on the actual size of AWS YoY margin, but it is probably safe to assume that it exceeds 65%. Some experts estimate it to exceed 2000% for certain services.

 

Naturally, such results mean businesses are overpaying, and it is not easy at all to spend less while scaling your business.

3. Cloud vendor lock

This is probably the most dangerous scenario when it is applicable. The more integrated your IT services are into the particular public cloud, the harder it will be to go without. 

 

It is easy to plan for Kubernetes-first environments, which are portable from public to hybrid to on-premises setups, but maintaining such an approach requires discipline. Each additional cloud service must be reviewed, and the question must be asked: what if we move off this provider later? How much will we lose in terms of turn-key services and what we will do about it? What are the alternatives?

What to do?

How do you benefit from cloud infrastructure but stay agile strategically? You need to invest time into it. Infrastructure, security and compliance must be part of the overall business strategy, and alternatives to the quick wins (such as connecting one more public service) should always be considered. 

 

Are we more sensitive to the growth of infrastructure cost as our CPU demand grows? Maybe we should consider services like Civo from day one then.

 

Are we going to scale fast and need a serverless database that scales automatically? We should plan for DynamoDB or Planetscale then, and maybe not for AWS Aurora.

 

Are we going to store a lot of platform data in files? Should we then maybe consider Wasabi storage and not S3?

 

Such questions need to be answered in a timely fashion, but more importantly, these questions need to be asked first. This will allow your business to grow in a controlled environment and not be hit with infrastructure and topology issues when you really need to be focusing your efforts somewhere else.

 

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Why good devops still exists in 2022 and how it influences your business

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Why good devops still exists in 2022 and how it influences your business

Infrastructure management has always existed to some extent. Back in the 1980-90s, it was about finding space for all those servers and addressing basic availability demands. As with other aspects of IT, it has evolved exponentially since then. Mysterious system administrators who would silently appear out of nowhere to make your PC and Outlook work in the local network are still there, however, they are now joined by an already established and well-known group of “devops” – not exactly developers, but not system administrators either.

 

This new profession evolved alongside IT. When people do something again and again, they tend to automate it. In programming, this resulted in the introduction of such concepts as patterns, then Bootstrap, and other language-specific frameworks. In infrastructure management, various concepts have been developed, including cloud computing, active-active data center setups, and on-demand cloud services. This is when devops as an area of expertise became a reality.

 

So why are devops needed (and are they really?) since it can almost always be semi-covered by a regular engineer’s efforts? Whether it is worth your time and effort very much depends on your business model and your goals, but there are a few classic use cases – and if you find yourself in a situation similar, it might be worth thinking it over.

CTO use case

This use case applies when you or your CTO need to explicitly empower the development team and ensure everyone is focused on the product delivery and addressing business needs as fast as possible.

 

You need to deliver the product but releases are taking time, and the faster you go, the more time they tend to take. Why can’t we just release small increments every few hours? Cloud services that are supposed to make it work out of the box somehow do not seem to apply to some crucial specifics of your architecture. You need it to be “slightly different”, so you end up with a mountain of release work, CI/CD work, environment management, and those sorts of things which are quite hard to justify to your sales team when explaining why a new premium feature gets delayed.

 

Moreover, your engineers are telling you it may not have been their job to renew that suddenly expired SSL certificate during the night. You push or apply some temporary measures but HR starts raising the topic of attrition and the learning curve for newcomers.

 

We could go on and on, but the bottom line is, you clearly need a devops function here so you could see and control how it’s done while focusing on what’s most important – building your product and beating the competition. 

 

Compliance (regulation) use case

There is a common saying that goes – “if regulators start paying attention to your business, you can open the champagne, success has arrived”. It could be frustratingly different, however. A data privacy or KYC-related penalty notification has been delivered, and the amount mentioned there somehow exceeds your annual gross revenue.

 

Making your data and your infrastructure processing compliant is a relevant matter from day one. Leading cloud providers claim that if you use their infrastructure, your business will be compliant by default. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Your business is your business, and it is by definition unique and competitive, otherwise, you would not have started it.

 

So it needs to be controlled and thought through, and not only with regard to how you store or process your own data, but also which services or suppliers you employ and how they operate.

 

Such audit and mitigation actions usually start from architecture and topology analysis performed by infrastructure specialists, CISO, or security experts which we also consider to be part of the devops world. In most cases, the resulting mitigations are simple and cheap, just as most things are usually simple when done in a timely manner.

 

Scaling and cost-effectiveness use case

When an MVP version of your product was started, performance and scaling concerns were raised, but the product-market fit was really the most critical topic.

 

So the fit was found and the conversion numbers are going up pleasantly. You just need a couple more environments for demos though, as there are a few large enterprises who are considering buying but need just one more demo for another stakeholder. Also, they have been asking if they could install your platform on their premises and you’ve got just two environments in AWS now, which are working just fine so far. After a few months, your whole development team is busy making five environments that are stable for Sales demos while making the platform AWS-agnostic (their cloud functions and OCR service came in really handy in those early MVP days). Meanwhile, a client-specific feature has been delayed for another month and you are losing valuable tempo.

 

Here’s another example – your app has been featured on App Store’s “Our Favorites” list. The next day, your backend has been down several times and is still recovering. It’s hard to estimate how many premium conversions were missed. You have called infrastructure support, and they recommended you to “raise a ticket”. 

 

Scaling, high availability, disaster recovery rehearsals, and flexible regional deployments may become relevant for your business much earlier than you expect. If you manage the cost vigilantly and plan for maturing and optimizing your platform design, you are likely to enjoy (and be ready for) exponential growth much sooner than your competition expected.

Devops’ impact grows along with the rate of IT automation

The pace of IT development has grown tremendously in the past 15-20 years. What had to be done completely from scratch each time back in 2004,  is now entirely in the hands of an engineer on the first day of any product development. But this velocity comes with its own demands: there are other roles and areas that require attention so that everyone can do their job effectively, and the business grows in a secure, compliant, and easily scalable manner.

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What are migrations and how can they help businesses cut costs on cloud protection efforts

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What are migrations and how can they help businesses cut costs on cloud protection efforts

Migrating to the cloud is often overwhelming for businesses. There are concerns about stability, cost, and most importantly, security. For many organizations, a successful migration actually reduces operating and protection costs, promotes scalability, and reduces the risk of cyberattacks that could potentially sink a business with improved ISO compliance certifications. 

 

By migrating, businesses can help reduce operational costs while improving IT processes and utilizing more efficient data platforms. Moreover, many organizations identify the ability to cut cloud security costs as a key benefit when deciding whether to initiate a migration strategy or when choosing between suppliers.

 

So, let’s jump straight in with defining what migrations are and how they can help cut security and business protection costs.

 

What is Cloud Migration?

 

Cloud migration is the process of transferring digital business assets, operations, and data to the cloud. Unlike a real, physical move of tangible objects, it involves moving these digital processes and goods from one data center to another. Just like moving from a small office to a larger one, cloud migrations require in-depth planning and advance considerations and often ends up being worth the tremendous effort, leading to cost important savings and flexibility.

 

Commonly, “cloud migration” describes the move from physical, on-premises infrastructure, also known as legacy systems, to the cloud. However, the term can also refer to migrating from one cloud to another cloud, usually from one provider to another.

 

Cloud-Cloud Migration

 

When talking about migrations, it’s important to remember that moving on-premises applications and data from physical data centers to the cloud is not the only scenario. What does an organization do when it already stores its applications and data in the cloud but wants to move them to another service provider’s cloud? How can a business utilize a multi-cloud strategy without affecting integral operations? These are just two examples of why cloud-to-cloud migrations can be so beneficial.

 

Organizations may consider a migration such as this for scaling, security, or cost reasons. Cloud-to-cloud migrations allow businesses to switch providers without first moving their data and applications to in-house servers. Being able to transfer easily between cloud providers is a critical consideration when selecting a new provider. 

 

The cost of a migration should not outweigh the advantages – if properly considered, migrations can help cut costs.

 

Cutting Security Costs with Migrations

 

By moving to the cloud or to a new cloud provider, organizations can help to reduce operational costs while simultaneously improving IT processes. Security is one prominent area that benefits from migration efforts, requiring fewer financial resources than legacy systems.

 

Switching to the cloud also means only paying for actual storage used, with no need to maintain expensive data centers when important processes and data are hosted in the cloud. A large percentage of SMBs have reported reduced costs as a result of embracing cloud technology, with the majority reinvesting the saved capital back into the business. 

 

Cloud providers offer the required hardware for web servers with maintenance, security, and upgrades usually included in the agreement. Many public cloud providers also charge under a “pay as you go” approach, with no lengthy contracts which can be useful for rapidly expanding enterprises. 

 

If we were to look at the legacy system alternative, the cost of running and maintaining a data center includes more than just an upfront investment. Businesses will be accountable for ongoing support, security, power, maintenance, cooling, and staffing, which can all be costly in modern business environments. 

 

Organizations are increasingly resorting to cloud infrastructure to increase flexibility and reduce pressure on their finances. Businesses and professional service companies spend the majority of their yearly IT budget on internal maintenance. Just as in other areas of the business, cloud migration allows organizations to benefit from economies of scale. Prominent cloud hosts and providers, including Google, AWS, Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle can keep their maintenance, upkeep, power, cooling, and staffing costs down when measured per server unit, compared to a private data center.

 

Cloud vs Legacy System Security

 

This all becomes more impressive and necessary for organizations when we understand that cloud security is actually considerably better across the board than legacy systems.

 

By storing data, applications, and processes centrally, the cloud provides significantly better security than conventional data centers. The majority of mass cloud providers also provide impressive built-in security features, such as in-depth analytics, cross-enterprise visibility, and periodic updates. 

 

Moreover, most cloud providers handle tougher security issues like keeping defined and unwanted traffic from accessing a companies’ virtual machines as well as ensuring automatic security updates to their systems to stop vulnerability to the newest security threats.

 

Amazon, for example, also has many of the leading compliance certifications, including ISO27001, HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and AICPA/SOC. This means that if a business has specific compliance requirements because of their sector or stored data, they can be confident knowing that their data is completely secure in the cloud.

 

The cloud consists of networks, systems, and applications that must be routinely and securely configured, updated, and maintained by following the integral “shared responsibility” model. This model ensures each provider is responsible for their part in securing the cloud as a whole. 

 

As part of their “shared responsibility”, organizations such as Google have designed and created their cloud and offering from the ground up with security as their primary criteria. This means that Google’s cloud was designed with privacy and security in mind, unlike other networks commonly used in legacy systems to house data. Moreover, because data is in the cloud, it can be accessed regardless of what happens to physical machinery, adding another layer of protection.

 

Conclusion

 

The process of moving digital business assets, operations, processes, and data to the cloud or between clouds is known as migration. Migrations as a whole, whether from a legacy system to the cloud or from a cloud to another cloud, can be hugely beneficial. 

 

While providing many notable benefits to do with efficiency and business infrastructure, one of the most notable advantages comes in the form of improved security, more compliant security, and cheaper security. Outdated legacy systems in the form of private servers are costly and require a lot of attention to maintain the level of efficiency and security of advanced cloud solutions. Popular cloud providers, on the other hand, have built their cloud from the ground up with state-of-the-art security and many other notable benefits.

 

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