The article “It’s 2020 — Should Business Owners Fear The Cloud?” was written by Epicor Software Corp. CEO Steve Murphy and published by Forbes on March 2, 2020. You can read the original article here.
The cloud. It’s a small word that packs a big punch. Defining what cloud is can cause confusion for some, while implementing it raises concerns for others.
We should consider three key factors as we continue into a new decade and business owners ask if they should fear the cloud: privacy, interoperability and cost.
But first, what is the cloud, and why are businesses migrating to this solution?
Essentially, the cloud is a delivery method for your software. It’s a network of servers that are linked together and operate as a single system. The cloud can perform a variety of functions (e.g., storing data, running applications, delivering content, etc.), and you can access it online. There are both public and private cloud options. The biggest difference with the cloud is what it doesn’t require. You don’t need any hardware or networking gear on-site – all you need is a tablet or a phone to run the software.
One of the major reasons I believe cloud adoption continues to grow is the flexibility and productivity enhancements it offers. As the CEO of a company that offers cloud platforms, I’ve found that these features are particularly attractive as business owners look to build resiliency in the face of unpredictable trade wars and other geopolitical changes. Business owners often look to business management software to provide stability. According to Goldman Sach’s 2020 review (via CNBC), 23% of IT workloads are now in public clouds.
So, should business owners fear the cloud when it comes to privacy, interoperability and cost?
Should I fear privacy in the cloud?
There is no denying privacy is a major concern when it comes to data. Data breaches continue to increase, as does the projected production of data. To keep pace, both software solutions and IT departments will have to up their game.
First, I’ll share the bad news. According to Hiscox’s 2019 Cyber Readiness Report, most businesses are unprepared for cyberthreats. In fact, in the U.S., 73% of businesses are “novices” at cyber readiness.
The good news, however, is that the public cloud has proven safer than on-premise data center environments. Specifically, Gartner found that “to date, there have been very few security breaches in the public cloud” and that “through 2020, public cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) workloads will suffer at least 60% fewer security incidents than those in traditional data centers.”
If you decide to move to the cloud due to these safety findings, you should still be mindful of cloud vulnerabilities. Take stock of what kinds of sensitive information you are putting in the cloud, and ensure you understand how the cloud provider will protect that data. The time needed to safely migrate systems and data can be lengthy, but it shouldn’t be rushed at the expense of security infrastructure. Select a provider who prioritizes security during the migration process and who has a solid reputation for getting the configuration right, and communicate with your team so that they understand the migration timeline and can manage their expectations.
Regardless of your software solution, privacy issues will continue to be a concern. One of the most important things business leaders can do is ensure they have a crisis management protocol in place if and when a breach should occur.
Should I fear cloud interoperability challenges?
I have great news on this front. There have been major strides toward interoperability. In fact, multiple systems can exchange and use information easier than ever before. This is due to a variety of reasons: Many application programming interfaces (APIs) continue to get better, and standards continue to improve, and, notably, I see tech giants such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft Azure frequently expand the universe of applications that can easily be put in their clouds. I believe their efforts have significantly moved the needle.
While interoperability isn’t perfect, there’s a lot of upward momentum. I expect that to progress.
Should I fear the cost of the cloud?
If you’re a business owner and you aren’t sure cloud makes sense for you from a cost perspective, ask yourself if you have a good grip on how much it costs to have your own data center in your business. Do you already have the IT skills in-house to run your own system? If so, the cloud may not make sense.
However, many business owners are surprised to find that their IT operations cost them a lot more than they think and that implementing cloud solutions can save them both time and money when it comes to issues such as automatic upgrades (which keep your company current and competitive), labor and maintenance costs, or increases in workforce productivity, to name a few.
Just remember that the decision between on-premise and cloud will be unique for each business. When you’re evaluating your IT operations cost, ask yourself how scalable you need your solution to be in the future. How adept is your IT department at staying up to date with evolving technology? Will you need additional data storage, and do you have the physical space to accommodate an expansion of your on-premise data center? Do you need access to data on the go? If a natural disaster hits your business, how will you back up your data?
What it comes down to is the total current cost of your on-premise data center versus a cloud solution. For business leaders who are still on the fence about expense, make sure you evaluate your options regularly. Cloud providers will have to continue to be cost-competitive, which could work in your favor.
Bottom line: Don’t fear the cloud. It could be a safer option than on-premise data. Its interoperability continues to improve. It can be highly effective at increasing productivity. It can save you money long-term. And the cloud will likely continue to improve over time. The year 2020 may be the one for you to move forward with implementation.
About Encompass Solutions
Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.