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Three Truths and a Lie: Modernization and Migrating to the Cloud

Let’s take a look at some key truths about moving to the cloud, plus a misunderstanding that might be holding you back.

Most organizations don’t need to be sold on the benefits of the cloud. While the pandemic had emphasized the ability to access data and systems from anywhere, the trend toward cloud-based computing was already well underway before 2020. As reported in TechRepublic, tech analysts believe by 2025, more than 85% of organizations will be employing a cloud-first strategy. Whether it’s the potential for scalability, the ability to connect with clients and talent remotely, or the reduced need to maintain on-site licenses and servers in perpetuity, cloud computing has increasingly become the way business gets done.

Still, there remains some confusion about what the cloud can and cannot do that is preventing some organizations from making the leap. Let’s take a look at some key truths about moving to the cloud, plus a misunderstanding that might be holding you back.

Truth 1: The Cloud Can Increase Performance

System performance is commonly evaluated by availability and latency — both of which can be improved by migrating to the cloud. Most reputable cloud providers will guarantee a 99.9+% uptime as part of their service level agreement, which rivals or surpasses the availability of on-premises systems.

Cloud providers can also store data closer to your customers and offer solutions like a private, dedicated network connection (rather than relying on the public cloud), both of which can improve latency. Latency can also be improved through a hybrid solution that uses both on-premises (for data with regulatory and privacy concerns) and cloud-based (for cloud computing) resources.

Beyond availability and latency, migrating to the cloud can also result in improved performance through automatic cloud updates, continuous integration and delivery, redundancy, and automatic scaling and load balancing.

Truth 2: The Cloud Can Be More Cost-Effective

Looking to reduce your IT spend? According to a recent BCG survey, migrating to the cloud can reduce businesses’ infrastructure costs by 15%–40%. This cost savings can be achieved in multiple ways:

Reduced capital expenditures. The more you move to the cloud, the fewer depreciating assets — such as servers, storage, and routers — you need to purchase and maintain.

Reduced operating expenses. Less infrastructure to maintain means fewer resources required to maintain it.

Reduced opportunity costs. The money you’re not spending on on-premises server implementation and maintenance can be spent on other initiatives.

Plus, instead of paying for “always-on”on-premises access, you would only pay a cloud provider for CPU as you need it, resulting in a reduced run rate. According to a 2022 Cloud Computing Survey from Foundry, 60% of responding companies reported increased and sustainable revenue resulting from cloud computing.

Truth 3: The Cloud Can Provide Better Security

Every day it seems like there is a new report of an organization getting hacked, and many erroneously make the connection that exposure “to the cloud” puts them at greater risk. It’s worth remembering two important truths about organizational vulnerability:

Most hacks result from people failings, not computer failings. Whether it’s via phishing, recycled or default passwords, or the loss or theft of physical devices, human error is the single biggest cause of security breaches.

Cloud service providers typically offer consistent, updated security technology. With such measures as data encryption and surveillance, anti-malware, disaster recovery, business continuity, and denial of service protection — not to mention dedicated security teams that ensure their systems are backed up and protected against cyberattacks — cloud service providers tend to provide greater security and protection for less than on-premises options.

It’s true that no organization, cloud-based or not, can be fully protected from criminals intent on doing them harm. But it’s worth considering the alternatives: It’s far riskier to have proprietary software and data loaded onto individual laptops, tablets, or phones (that can get lost, stolen, or breached).

And the Lie: Cloud Migration Is an Easy, One-and-Done Process

Migrating to the cloud is not as easy as flipping a switch. Achieving the benefits above requires thoughtful planning: Applications need to be reviewed, bandwidth parameters need to be evaluated (and tested), and user experiences need to be reevaluated. The more complex your organizational systems are, the more carefully you’ll want to think through the migration.

Taking a lift-and-shift or simple rehosting approach can undercut the benefits migrating to the cloud helps you achieve:

• Program tweaks that you made to on-premises software might not easily port to the cloud, resulting in decreased performance.

• Getting the greatest financial benefit from moving to the cloud requires taking advantage of cloud-native features — lifting and shifting might be the quickest solution, but in doing so you’d likely miss out on those cost benefits.

• Vulnerabilities in your software might become more discoverable in the cloud, which is why a pre-migration plan should include a reassessment of the security of all platforms.

Even with a great migration plan, maximizing the benefits of the cloud requires regular maintenance, user feedback, and assessment. But with a carefully thought-out plan and execution strategy, your organization can reap significant rewards for years to come.

Previously published on Newsweek.