Business continuity seen as top-rated benefit of cloud
Hybrid cloud gives companies the 'best of both worlds,' says Charlene George, client solutions director at EMC Southern Africa, commenting on the results of the ITWeb/EMC 2015 Cloud Computing survey, which ran online from 27 July to 10 August 2015.
The survey results were more or less evenly split when it came to respondents selecting their company's current approach to cloud; 17% chose private cloud and 15% chose public cloud. Interestingly, 32% chose hybrid cloud (a combination of public and private cloud).
For mission-critical applications and the companies' core applications, private cloud gives total control over aspects such as high availability, business continuity and security. These are managed by the companies' own resources, says George.
"On the other hand, for less mission critical applications and non-core applications the public cloud can provide these applications at a lower cost than the company can provide them in a private cloud. Public cloud is also ideally suited for development and test applications and also for applications that are only used for a short period of time."
Just under half (46%) of respondents believe that their organisation's use of cloud will significantly improve their IT ability within the next two years. Only a very small percentage (4%) indicated it will not.
George comments on this finding: "The use of cloud allows a company to provide self service provisioning and other cloud functionality such as metering, charge back and dynamic scaling. This allows their IT ability to be more agile. Using self service provisioning a user can provision an environment quickly in the cloud without the need for long lead times while infrastructure is procured for each individual system or project. The quicker provisioning leads to quicker products to market which can lead to competitive advantage for organisations."
Business continuity emerged as the top-rated benefit of cloud by respondents (71%), second was cost saving at 67% and higher availability ranked third at 56%.
The direct benefits of features such as business continuity and higher availability are that in today's digital 'always on' world business users can use the company's applications at any time that suits them, they are not restricted by usual 'business hours', George says.
"This is a big advantage particularly to users who work globally across different time zones. Using business continuity in a hybrid cloud environment leads to the cost saving benefit of cloud. Maintaining a duplicate, unused infrastructure stack 'just in case' is often too expensive, but obtaining this from a public cloud vendor on the rare occasion it should be needed provides a much more cost-effective method for business continuity. The direct benefit of cost savings is that when a company is paying less to provide and maintain its systems in the cloud, more budget is left over for innovation," she adds.
Security was revealed as the largest inhibitor to cloud at 63%, integration came in second at 47%, and governance third at 44%.
According to George, security pitfalls in cloud can be avoided by ensuring that in a public cloud environment, the company is fully aware of its security needs and that the public cloud provider gives the required levels of security and adheres to any specific security legislation required by the country or industry within which the company operates.
"The cloud provider should be able to provide security certification to confirm their security. In fact, rather than being seen as an inhibitor to cloud, security should be seen as an enabler. Due to economies of scale, higher security can be provided by cloud providers (both private and public) than a business unit might be able to afford to provide for a siloed application/system," George concludes.