Our Senior Consultant, Steve Stanton recently wrote an article about how cloud computing can enable digital transformation in 2020 for Connect Magazine.
2020, the dawn of a new decade. It is unclear where technology will be in 2030 – driverless cars and quantum computing may come of age perhaps. We can’t predict what technology we will be using in 10 years’ time, however there are technologies you can harness now to enable your organisation to thrive and to digitally transform throughout the next decade.
Cloud computing was one of the most important business technologies to emerge during the 2010s. Dynamic organisations saw its potential and began to transfer much of their infrastructure onto the cloud. But there are still many companies who haven’t made that move, uncertain if they need or can even afford a cloud of their own.
What is the cloud?
It is a service. Instead of a business building its own IT system to host databases, a third party hosts them on server farms where data can be stored, managed and processed rather than on a local server or personal computer. The cloud is tangible, physical, real. Cloud data can be accessed over the internet, which is typically shown as a cloud on most IT system diagrams.
What are the advantages of using the cloud?
There are many benefits to moving your business to the cloud but there are five key advantages:
- Affordable: Companies do not have to purchase expensive servers or recruit and pay staff for managing data. Plus, sharing complex infrastructure with multiple companies is cost-effective, allowing you to only pay for what you use.
- Rapid: Without the need to procure and test hardware, the cloud is a perfect fit for start-ups or businesses keen to progress the digital transformation of their organisation.
- Convenient: With real-time access to data and intelligent new ways of viewing, analysing and using information, the cloud enables operational improvements and delivers better value and service to customers.
- Flexible: A widely dispersed and mobile workforce can access cloud services on the go, outside company buildings and work hours.
- Scalable: The cloud can grow or shrink with your business needs. Perfect for growing businesses or companies that have seasonal demands.
How secure is the cloud?
Cloud security is more robust than conventional data storage, with greater protection than standalone data solutions. Cloud servers are housed in remote warehouses offsite and they are heavily guarded. The data in those servers is encrypted for further protection. The biggest risk to cloud storage is privacy. Governments can legally request information stored in the cloud, and some cloud service providers end up handing over some data, even if it’s not the content in full.
Data sovereignty in the Channel Islands and other offshore locations is a key consideration when it comes to cloud options. Many businesses have terms in their client contracts that state the data will remain offshore. This would immediately rule out most public cloud offerings as they are based outside of the Channel Islands. C5 Alliance provides a solution to this problem by hosting a fully managed cloud solution in Jersey and Guernsey. The Island Cloud service can be utilised in a very similar way to public cloud offerings for infrastructure as a service but with the peace of mind that the entirety of your data is stored in the Channel Islands. Furthermore, all applications and data ingested by our Data Management as a Service solution cannot be modified by an external or internal operation, ensuring data is immune to malicious activity such as ransomware.
What can the cloud do for your business?
Adopting cloud technologies can digitally transform your organisation and provide you with improved scalability, accessibility and lower operating costs. It brings the ability to access all your documents, emails and information sources, wherever they are, at the click of a button. This makes data protection, freedom of information and GDPR legislation easier to manage.
Businesses can use cloud services to reach and improve their service to a global customer base. It allows staff and customers to interact on a regular basis, even if they are on opposite sides of the world. Processes that involve paper forms or sign off from several key people can be moved online to give your business a competitive advantage, freeing up your staff to focus on your clients. A cloud service can also help unleash the power of artificial intelligence (AI), with constant and consistent monitoring of clients’ behaviour. This can automatically identify and flag up risky behaviour, ready for review by compliance or risk teams, highlighting issues before they become one.
However, in their haste to exploit the advantages of a cloud model, many businesses overlook some of the issues that directly impact cloud costs, capabilities and implementation timetables. C5 Alliance has been advising clients on their digital transformation projects for many years and we have invested significant time and resources on research and development to deliver the latest cloud technology, helping businesses successfully transition to the cloud.
Our cloud platforms provide a great deal of flexibility and we can design and deploy solutions that take advantage of the latest technological developments. For example, with advances around security, such as micro-segmentation and data-at-rest encryption, we can ensure our clients’ cloud systems adhere to validated design principles and best practices, which significantly reduces risk and improves standardisation.
Beyond the cloud
The cloud is here to stay. Soon we will see the cloud move closer, through edge computing (still relying on the cloud but bringing some of the cloud’s applications and processes to devices located in local places, such as your office) and the roll out of ultra-fast 5G technology. Like quantum computers and driverless cars these are technologies set to mature in the future. But as we look ahead, the companies who embrace the power of the cloud will be well positioned to benefit when new technologies emerge, ensuring they will survive and thrive into the next decade and beyond.