Getting to Grips with Cloud Complexity

Cloud is pretty much everywhere these days. It has evolved from being a mere tool into a genuine platform to leverage and enable a smooth customer experience for businesses. The cloud is crucial for the development of companies, and central to three key concerns that dominate IT: security, data, and workplace.

According to Gartner, the global public cloud service market is anticipated to grow by a CAGR of about 12% between 2018 and 2022, reaching USD 331.2 billion. In Southeast Asia, the cloud computing market is also expected to grow, reaching USD 40.32 billion by 2025 due to increased demand for services from SMEs. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is also working diligently to build a reliable ICT infrastructure and industry within the member nations to improve collective capabilities.

It may seem that cloud migration is a simple, quick process; however, it is very complex. It needs to be extremely reliable and secure, yet adapt to the constant need for flexibility and mobility - both in terms of devices and access to services. The cloud is becoming more complex due to the ongoing development of new features and innovations. The cloud is not a finished product, but a platform on which apps and solutions are built. Therefore, migrating to the cloud is not an endpoint but a beginning.

As such, the cloud requires skills and know-how that traditional companies usually do not have in-house. The logical choice is to call on a managed services provider (MSP). They can help with the transition to the cloud and manage it once everything is up and running.

Making the right choices and managing costs

Countries in Southeast Asia have scored high on the Asia Cloud Computing Association's cloud readiness index, as Singapore is not only a leader in the region but also globally. However, the latest index indicates that a gulf may be emerging between emerging economies and the top countries in the area.

Now, companies need to make investments to put their readiness for cloud computing to use. Managed service providers can guide companies and help them monitor costs before, during, and after the migration process by unifying the various best-in-class cloud solutions. This also requires buy-in across multiple levels and processes within the enterprise, including IT, governance, security & compliance, billing, reporting, and aligning the customer with the end-client.

Three Stages of Migration

Generally, migration to the cloud happens in three stages: a lift and shift of existing infrastructure, a review of the application landscape and front-end review of services.

The first stage – lift and shift of existing infrastructure and applications from the traditional IT infrastructures (legacy or on-premises) to the cloud – and the adoption of adjacent new services is the low-hanging fruit that most companies have come around to. It allows for good performance and services while delivering immediate cost-saving and a broader scope of capabilities and features, including AI, big data, IoT, and data analytics.

The second stage includes taking a closer look at the companies' application landscape to determine how to leverage the cloud further by changing or refactoring applications. It involves modernizing apps to use new tools or features offered by cloud providers. An example of this is database services, where public cloud database or analytics services replace the more traditional server systems.

In the third stage, the front-end is reviewed, and services can begin to be offered. It is where companies can start leveraging new features by developing modules and capabilities in their applications, such as data analytics. Depending on the context of the enterprise, the stages can be approached differently.

Hybrid vs. Public Cloud

The essential decision businesses need to make when migrating to the cloud is whether to use a public cloud (hosted and managed by an external provider) or a hybrid cloud (a model that features a combination of public, private and on-premise solutions). While the public cloud often appears to be the easier solution, it is not the answer for all situations and comes with certain traps which should be monitored. Expert guidance is crucial to aid companies in deciding their needs, which should be based on context and a number of specific criteria, including cost, the overall applications landscape, and IT infrastructure, regulation, and security needs.

In recent times, we have seen cloud repatriation by companies deciding to go back from the public cloud to a hybrid solution that incorporates privately hosted or even on-premise infrastructures for cost or security reasons. The hybrid model gives businesses the flexibility to choose where to store different sets of information so companies can take advantage of the scalability and cost benefits associated with the public cloud while still maintaining security levels for sensitive data. When managed properly, the public cloud is one of the most secure environments for sensitive company data, with different layers of protection, such as two-factor authentication, firewalls, and anti-intrusion utilities added on top of the providers' security wrapping. Maintaining these high-security levels is a question of both investment and capabilities that a reliable and robust partner can help companies navigate.

What does the future hold?

Soon, we anticipate significant progress in applications. As new features and possibilities emerge, and knowledge of cloud improves, businesses will be able to operate more effectively and have the space to innovate. Only then will we be able to grasp the true extent of the possibilities the cloud has to offer. All these are linked to security, data, and workplace, to which the cloud can be a very good solution.

Sujith Kumar, director of Solutions, APAC, Getronics, contributed this article.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CDOTrends.