Lockdown has accelerated the need to move to the cloud. Now is the time to review and update your core IT.
How has your lockdown been? It’s a question many of us have asked and answered since March as much of life has changed out of all recognition. For IT directors, the key question is how their companies’ cloud infrastructure − hardware, software applications, data centres and desktops – has coped. How can you ensure that it can withstand future crises and support future growth? Lockdown has accelerated a move by businesses to cloud computing and software-as-a-service/ platform-a-service IT models. Why? There are three main reasons. One, lockdown has highlighted limitations of on-premise IT infrastructure, particularly when IT workers have needed to access data centres and other cloud infrastructure during lockdown. Two, lockdown has highlighted the need for increased connectivity when employees are working from home. Three, with home working expected to remain common long after lockdown, improving the quality and security of companies’ desktop infrastructure is a priority. Employee’s working from home should notice no difference in speed and reliability of their company’s cloud infrastructure, applications and communication network. Here is our plan for improving your cloud infrastructure.
Review your company’s IT infrastructure. Marks out of 10 for its performance during lockdown? Any network or data-centre outages? Latency issues? We got calls from understandably stressed IT directors the day after lockdown was announced because their end users where unable to connect efficiently to the company IT infrastructure when working from home. Companies’ virtual private networks have sometimes struggled to provide secure and reliable, super-fast access to cloud infrastructure. Moving to the cloud is that you can access your IT infrastructure from anywhere if you have an Internet connection.
A growing number of our customers are asking us to help them move faster into the cloud. The speed this can be done depends on factors, including the age of applications and regulations on data. Those ‘old school’ legacy applications, which can be up to 30 years old, can be tricky to switch to the cloud. IT staff who supported them may have left your business. Replacing these apps with new, cloud-based ones may save you time and money. In some sectors, such as financial services, a company’s data, regulators may require the data, especially customers’ personal information, to reside in the UK, or even within the four walls of your business. The global nature of cloud platforms may be unsuitable for some highly regulated businesses.
Do your employees have the right skills and experience to support a move to the cloud? Switching to a cloud-based infrastructure is much more than a software upgrade. It will also change your mindset. Cloud technology will simplify your IT infrastructure, but much of the old, specialised IT roles (for example, network hardware, storage) may no longer be as useful. Out goes the silo mentality. In comes broader skills. One employee, a cloud engineer, could oversee hardware, software, network, email and storage.
Cloud technology will change the working culture of your IT team and wider business. The cloud makes it easier to work faster and be more agile. A hardware upgrade that may previously have taken a couple of weeks from request to going live, can be done within minutes. IT staff can use that saved time to work on technology and data analysis that can help improve a company’s bottom line, shape its strategy and model scenarios. But don’t underestimate how big a change moving to the cloud can be for some staff, especially those whose IT skills are mainly in legacy applications. They will probably need extra support.
There is a big difference between information security for on-premise IT and cloud IT. One big benefit of the cloud is that your business inherits the stringent cyber security of a cloud provider. However, like any digital initiative, doing so also can create new security risks. As the famous Spiderman quote says, with great power comes great responsibility. Companies can minimise risks by creating additional layers of security in the cloud, including vulnerability management systems (to protect servers from malware) and network perimeter protection (to protect a virtual network from attack). We are advising customers on this and other aspects of moving their IT infrastructure to the cloud. We appreciate that in the current economic environment, budgets may be tighter than usual, which is why we’re flexible on our project and billing arrangements to make projects happen. Some companies want to move to the cloud yesterday. Others are more cautious and want to do a proof of concept before committing. For larger businesses with complex IT, switching to the cloud can take between six and 12 months. Not all businesses will have the skills or experience to do it all themselves. If that’s the case, we're here to help modernise your IT so that you emerge stronger from lockdown.
If you think we can help – talk to us today. For further reading, check out our recent whitepaper: Don’t Look Back: IT and the New Normal.
Posted in Managed Cloud on Jul 30, 2020