The trend in computing is like a pendulum. In the 1960s, it was about developing computing power in a single device. In the 1980’s, it was about multiple dumb terminals connecting to a mainframe. In the 1990’s, it was about getting a personal computer into each household.
Now, we are back to network-based computing - only the broad access to Wi-Fi and mobile data has dramatically expanded access to networks. The cloud is the latest iteration, but with a key difference – we are no longer tied to just one server
Cloud hosting allows startups to minimize the cost of implementing an idea. If it fails, they are not left bankrupt. That lets entrepreneurs cycle through new ideas more quickly, trying out ideas until they hit on a successful one. As Thomas L. Friedman in his book “Thank You For Being Late” rightly put it, this isn’t a normal cloud but “A Supernova” – a computational supernova capable of altering the entire IT landscape.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service platform providers like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have invested heavily to be able to offer elastic, pay-as-you-go, cloud services. Those same services have effectively displaced on-premise computing and even private data centers. The cloud is no longer a playground for IT experimentation but rather an operational mandate for enterprises of all sizes.
In this article, let's examine the different stages to the enterprise cloud transormation strategy -
1) Application Transformation
Innovative software providers like Salesforce ushered in the in the era of Software as a Service (SaaS). Salesforce’s CRM offering quickly displaced incumbent enterprise internal-hosted contact management systems. Similarly, Microsoft moved its Microsoft Office suite of email and productivity tools to the cloud with Office 365.
SaaS offers several advantages over conventional on-premise systems such as:
Pricing based on subscription instead of software licensing.
Economies of scale as one size fits all from 5 users to thousands.
Maintenance, support and uptime are the responsibility of the provider freeing internal IT teams of their bandwidth.
Upgrades are dynamic meaning users needn’t have to endure downtimes as in the case of on-premise implementations.
Cloud Computing for Small Businesses is nothing less of a revolution. It has opened up doors that were earlier accessible only by larger corporations. Small business are able to both compete with and overtake larger businesses with this technology. It largely makes everything need-based and on-demand, from data security to storage, thus giving them freedom from the burden of huge investments.
2) Network Transformation
In the old world of legacy on-premise corporate networks, applications were hosted in the data center. Users accessed them via the corporate network and always within the confines of the perimeter-based firewall. To connect, users logged on via a VPN (over SSL or IPSec), connected to a VPN concentrator back at HQ, and traveling via (expensive) MPLS circuits to their desired application destination.
Cloud-computing breaks the legacy network model. MPLS degrades the user experience, particularly when users are accessing cloud applications like Office 365. Users demand to connect directly to internet and cloud resources, from home, the coffee shop, or on a plane. Users connecting directly to cloud resources via local internet breakouts represent the promise of network transformation. The approach is supported by Software-Defined Networking (SDN) capabilities that recognize traffic destination and route it to the corporate data center or out to the internet. And that broadband internet connection is considerably cheaper to manage than leased MPLS lines.
3) Security Transformation
Legacy network security models protected the entire corporate network. Security transformation should start with deploying Zero-Trust networking, an approach that establishes a default-deny posture for all network data and traffic interactions. Second, move on from legacy security to dynamic, continuous adaptive trust and threat mitigation. The legacy network security model relies on IP address for authentication.
That’s a start, but with today’s threat landscape, it’s not secure. The cloud-based inline security check post uses a granular policy engine that can enforce each user’s access to each application. Traffic goes through multiple filters much like a UTM device, except the architecture is multi-tenant and scalable. And each user benefits from the threat intel derived from all user traffic.
Why Choose Cloud?
The most common reason (at 77%) for organizations choosing cloud, according to the Cloud Industry Forum, is for the flexibility of its delivery model. This is followed closely by scalability (76%) and 24/7 service dependence (74%).
Save Time: 64% of people found that using cloud has saved their organization time
Innovate: 45% felt that enabling innovation drives their continued cloud investment
Be Secure: 98% organizations have never experienced a breach of security when using a cloud service
Cloud computing certainly democratizes access to cutting-edge technology. By lowering the cost to invest and prioritizing remote access to apps and data, users and businesses are gaining level footing with larger enterprise corporations. In other words, you don’t have to have a million dollar IT department to have a voice or a technological edge.