Making the Move to the Cloud: Top 10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Wait Any Longer
by Salim Khalife, Founder & CEO
From vast federal agencies including the CIA, DOD, and the NSA, to native cloud titans like Netflix and Hulu, to sole proprietorships and every company in between, cloud computing is rapidly becoming the norm. And it’s for good reason — cloud computing offers distinct advantages over on-premise computing, and those advantages have been well researched and documented. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 most often cited benefits of cloud computing along with the reasons you shouldn’t wait any longer to make the move to the cloud.
Defining Cloud Computing
But first, a bit of background on what we mean by the term cloud computing. Most often, when we speak of cloud computing we’re talking about Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS. SaaS is simply a method of software delivery that allows your data to be accessed from any device through an internet connection and web browser. The software vendor hosts and maintains the servers, databases, and code that constitute an application, and you are billed on a pay-for-use or subscription basis. There are other components of cloud computing, including Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), but for our purposes, we’ll focus primarily on SaaS.
Back to the Benefits of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has innumerable fans and dozens of advantages over on-premise deployment models. Here we’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite benefits of the cloud.
1. Lower costs
The cost savings of utilizing SaaS applications is often touted as a major benefit over on-premise deployments. Those cost savings come from multiple factors, including:
- Lower acquisition costs — compared to purchasing perpetual licenses
- Lower hardware costs — no servers to buy
- Minimal IT resources required to run — fewer IT personnel required
- Less expensive to manage —updates and database management performed by vendor
Gartner’s research and studies find that adopting the cloud can save companies a significant amount of money — an overall average of 14% in fact. A survey by CompTIA found that cost savings was the top driver in companies’ move to the cloud. Curious to see what your savings could be? Amazon offers a total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) calculatorto help discover how much you could be saving by moving to the cloud.
2. Better collaboration
When teams can easily access, edit, and share documents in real time, collaboration soars. The cloud facilitates this type of cooperation by making documents available from anywhere, anytime, and delivering full visibility into the collaborative process.
A Forbes Insight research study lists some of the benefits of cloud-based collaboration as:
- Flexible work environments
- Enhanced communication with customers, suppliers, and partners
- Enables new products and services
- Supports business scalability
- Enables workforce mobility
- Reduces operating costs
While collaboration can certainly take place outside of the cloud, nothing can compete with the cloud’s ability to facilitate collaboration across functional boundaries, time zones, and between organizations.
3. More flexibility and agility
CIOs and IT directors rank “operational agility” as a top driver for cloud adoption, and it’s no wonder — agility and flexibility can provide companies with a true competitive advantage. By flexibility and agility, we’re referring to the ability to rapidly and cost-effectively respond and adapt to market and environmental changes. Cloud-based solutions are inherently flexible, allowing companies to scale up or down with demand, without the need to add to or retire existing infrastructure. Some of the cited business benefits of agility include:
- On demand scalability — upgrade or downgrade your current plan as needed
- Data availability — more points of access, even during peak times
- Rapid disaster recovery — greater protection against data loss
4. Increased security
The average cost of a lost laptop is in excess of $50,000. Yes, you read that right. This value is based on several cost components: replacement cost, detection, forensics, data breach, lost intellectual property costs, lost productivity, and legal, consulting, and regulatory expenses. Of those components, the data breach represents 80% of the cost. In fact, for many companies, the $50k estimate could be vastly understated. Read this story about how a single stolen laptop cost a company $2.5 million in compliance fines.
Cloud computing can help ensure that valuable and sensitive data no longer needs to be stored on employees’ laptops, tablets, or even phones. Instead, the data is securely accessed over the internet and stored on your vendor’s secure servers. There are even cloud capabilities to wipe the data from a stolen laptop remotely.
5. Work from anywhere
The ability for you and your team to access vital business applications from anywhere is one of the most compelling, and most commonly cited benefits of cloud computing. Forbes reported on a number of employer benefits resulting from telecommuting, including:
- Increased productivity — this study found 2/3 of managers reported an increase in productivity from remote employees
- Higher morale, lower absenteeism, and lower stress levels
- Decreased costs— reduced operational costs due to less office space
6. Minimal IT infrastructure
Cloud computing allows users to access computing and storage resources virtually, with minimal resources on their end. Companies’ can reduce or even eliminate the costs associated with maintaining servers and storage. The lack of on-premise infrastructure also removes the associated operational costs in the form of power, air conditioning, and hardware and software administration costs. The result is that companies will likely need fewer (if any) dedicated IT personnel and can focus those resources on their core mission.
Gartner research showed that companies can save 26% by replacing perpetual software licenses with cloud subscriptions, and an additional 15% from associated staff reduction.
7. Always up-to-date
When software is hosted in the cloud by the vendor, updates are typically made automatically, meaning users are always running the most current version. This has several benefits, including:
- Eliminate time spent updating server application and desktop devices
- Protection against threats and vulnerabilities
- Continually take advantage of the latest features and functionality
- Benefit from ongoing improvements in speed and security
- Maintain compliance with changing regulations
- Ensure compatibility with other, newer applications
8. Backup and disaster recovery
One of the biggest business cases for moving to the cloud is for robust backup and disaster recovery services. And for good reason: disasters happen. A 2017 survey by Gartner found that 80% of respondents have had an incident during the past two years that required the use of an IT disaster recovery plan. Increasingly, organizations are counting on the cloud to ensure continued access to their vital business data. The same Gartner survey found that cloud-based recovery was the preferred solution for 23% of respondents.
What makes the cloud such an effective backup and disaster recovery tactic? A few of the advantages include:
- Safety: With your data stored in the cloud, you are not subject to the typical threats of fire, flooding, or theft. And data stored in the cloud is generally stored on secure, encrypted servers and systems, which minimizes the risks to your data.
- Ease of recovery: With multiple levels of redundancy, if data is lost or deleted, most likely through individual user error or deletion, backups are available and easily located. Multiple levels of redundancy mean that your online backup service stores multiple copies of your data in locations independent of each other.
- Ease of access: As long as you have internet access and can connect to the remote server, you’ve got access to your data.
- Affordability: Cloud-based backup can be less expensive than the cost of tape drives, servers, or other hardware and software elements necessary to perform the backup. And when you add in the media on which the backups are stored, the transportation of media to a remote location for safekeeping, and the IT labor required to manage and troubleshoot backup systems cloud backup becomes an even more affordable option.
- Convenience: Concentrate on running your business as cloud-based backup solutions run automatically.
9. Document access and control
As the need for collaboration between business users increases, so does the need for tight document control and easy, anywhere access. Cloud-based document access and control solutions store documents centrally, enabling everyone (with the correct security privileges) to access, view, share, and edit content. You may be familiar with some of the big names in this market space: Dropbox, Google, and Adobe each have offerings. However, many cloud-based applications provide the capability to store, associate, and share documents related to records in the application. Advantages of centralized document management include:
- One version of the truth — everyone is viewing the same version of the document.
- Automatic backups — the documents are backed up along with the application data.
- Easy sharing and increased collaboration — documents can easily be routed to employees, customers, and vendors.
- Regulatory compliance — companies in many industries are subject to strict record keeping and document control requirements and cloud solutions are typically superior than premise based solutions.
In a 2017 Forrester Total Economic Impact Study, companies leveraging document management software saved an average of 50 hours per user each year, and realized a 2.7-3.8 times return on their investment.
10. Predictable, budgetary pricing
In a major shift from the typical on-premise software purchase model where companies purchase perpetual licenses for the application, SaaS applications are typically sold as subscriptions, where companies pay a monthly subscription fee that may vary by the number of users and/or the capabilities desired.
With a fixed fee, companies are better able to budget their overall technology expenditures. In addition, a SaaS solution is generally not considered a capital expenditure, rather it’s considered an operating expense, which can yield significant tax benefits— but certainly consult with your tax advisor on this matter. Deloitte provides a good explanation of the differences in this paper.
Cloud is the Future
Forbes describes cloud computing as crucial to the future of our society. It’s becoming so ubiquitous that some in the field say we’ll stop using the term “cloud computing” at all, it will simply become the way IT is done. In 2017, research giant IDC found that 85% of companies with under 100 employees are using cloud solutions — at an average of 3.9 solutions per company. Those numbers will continue to climb as companies recognize the benefits inherent in the cloud. If you’ve been delaying your organization’s move to the cloud, waiting on broader acceptance, the wait is over.
About the author:
Salim Khalife is the founder, president and CEO of Paramount WorkPlace, a technology company that develops, sells, and supports advanced web-based and mobile requisition, procurement, and expense software solutions for mid-market organizations. The company introduced its first cloud-based SaaS requisition application in 1997, and continues to innovate and expand its partnerships and integrations ever since. Learn more at www.paramountworkplace.com.