Archive | September 2020

On-premises or public cloud: how do you choose?

Almost every organisation in the world is aware of the benefits that the public cloud has to offer, but most of them still prefer an on-premises environment for their workload. They weigh the advantages of a public cloud solution against the risks and decide that security and control are too important to give up. However, the question should not be what to choose, but how to ensure that you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

The public cloud has convinced enterprise leaders in all industries. According to a survey by 451 Research, commissioned by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, a staggering 97% of more than one thousand questioned IT decision-makers think the public cloud is a positive experience. Despite this clear belief in public cloud solutions, many enterprises keep their workload located on an on-premises infrastructure.

Even when they decide to shift to a public cloud, they often return their data to a private environment after encountering the many pitfalls of this new world. Not every organisation is the same, so choosing the right cloud environment can be different for every company. That’s why we must look at the main benefits and disadvantages of private and public clouds. Which path is the right one for your organisation?


Public cloud

We start with the public cloud. Why are so many enterprises convinced that shifting to the public cloud would offer them amazing benefits that could transform their business?

  • Organisations need to keep their IT budget under control. Especially after the COVID-19 crisis, cost-efficiency will be an important factor in all business decisions. But IT is also more than ever the backbone of any organisation. A public cloud solution enables companies to simplify their IT and pay for what they use. In a private environment, businesses often invest in more capacity than what they need, just to be on the safe side.
  • To keep up with changes, organisations should be able to respond quickly to trends and developments. In an on-premises infrastructure, IT often slows down the business. It can take months to deploy a new solution and this is an eternity for a modern company. In a public cloud, resources are hosted on the premises of the service provider. Enterprises can access new resources whenever they want.

Public cloud environments are saving organisations time and money, both essential ingredients to flourish in this rapidly changing world. On the downside, you can only enjoy the full potential of the public cloud if your company is willing to give up control over security and compliance. It is no surprise that those are the most important characteristics of an on-premises infrastructure.

Private cloud

The lack of control in a public cloud environment already makes it clear why companies continue to work with a purely private infrastructure, although this is by far the most expensive option.

Some organisations have no choice but to run their applications locally:

  • In a private environment, organisations are in control of all data. They decide where this information is kept, who has access and how it is used. Privacy concerns and strict regulations are important reasons why companies hesitate to shift data to a public cloud. Especially if your enterprise is operating in a highly regulated industry, you need an extreme level of control over your assets.
  • Sensitive information should always be handled with care. This is no guarantee when data is stored in a public cloud environment. Your organisation would depend on the cloud provider to ensure the security of the data. In some sectors, such as the banking industry, the sensitivity of data is simply too important to risk security issues. Ultimately, the loss of data can be much more expensive than missing out on the financial benefits of a public cloud solution.

Security, compliance and privacy are the main reasons why companies want to retain control of their data. It is of course frustrating that they have to miss out on the profit and flexibility that a public cloud computing model would offer them. So what if we tell you that there is a way to enjoy these benefits without giving up control?

Hybrid cloud

Many organisations already use a multi-cloud approach. This means that they are running more than one private and/or public cloud solution. An even better strategy is migrating to a hybrid world. This would allow you to shift applications to a third-party public cloud environment and keep specific data or tools within a secure on-premises infrastructure.

A hybrid cloud solution provides companies with the control they need to ensure security, privacy and compliance, and it still gives them access to the financial benefits and the flexibility of the public cloud. Especially if your company is using a lot of sensitive data, a hybrid cloud can open a new world of opportunities. It ensures faster, simpler and more cost-efficient IT while your IT department is still pulling all the strings. A consumption-based model that focuses on your needs allows you to pay only for what you use.

To discover how your company can benefit from a hybrid cloud solution, you can rely on the expertise of a trusted IT partner. Computacenter introduces its customers to HPE GreenLake as an effective consumption-based model. Do you want to know how you can also benefit from this solution?  

Want to know more?

Download our free e-book about upcoming IT challenges or visit our website to discover how we can accelerate digital transformation in your business.

4 pitfalls to avoid when moving your business to the cloud

Moving to the cloud has become a necessity for most organisations. Although companies understand the benefits of the cloud, a significant proportion of them decide to return their workloads to a private environment. Why? Concerns about security and lack of control are two important explanations. In this blog we describe the most common pitfalls to avoid when shifting to the cloud. We also explain how to solve these issues and still enjoy the full potential of cloud solutions.

The cloud is an essential aspect of every business strategy that focuses on digital transformation, but it also appears to be a very difficult exercise. An IDC report recently indicated that 80% of companies are expected to repatriate workloads that were primarily part of a public cloud environment. The research states that about half of public applications are expected to repatriate to an on-premises environment over the next two years. The most important reasons are security and performance, but also costs and lack of control.

Moving to the cloud can indeed be extremely challenging for organisations. Here are some of the main pitfalls to avoid:

1. Lack of Vision

Cloud transformation may seem like a technical challenge at first sight, but it will have an impact on the entire company. It can change the way a business operates in many different areas. Think of budgets, productivity, daily operations and development. That’s why a shift to the cloud should always start at the top floor of an organisation. The IT department must be fully supported by the board and have access to all the necessary resources.

Unless the management of the company understands both the benefits and risks of moving to the cloud, this process will almost certainly fail. The cloud holds many mysteries, even for well-trained IT employees. It is a good idea to support them with advice from cloud experts and consultants, especially if you want to avoid the other pitfalls we are about to explain.

A powerful cloud strategy also involves thinking about which workloads can be moved to the public cloud and which workloads require a more private environment. The benefits of the cloud are often so attractive that companies forget to think carefully about the risks.

2. Security Risks

This brings us to the most main reason why, according to a 451 Research commissioned by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, two-thirds of the workload is still located on-premises despite the fact that a majority of companies agree that the cloud offers a positive experience. Data breaches are common news and companies invest a lot of money in the protection of their infrastructure.

Storing data and important files on external services always exposes organisations to new risks.

Of course, you can expect a cloud service provider to handle sensitive information with care and create an highly secure environment. But lack of control is a real concern for many enterprises when shifting workloads to the public cloud. Security issues can cost companies a fortune and the reputational damage can even be beyond repair.

Here are some things to consider when you switch to a public cloud strategy:

  • Make clear decisions about who is supposed to have access to specific data and resources. Not all employees should be able to see all information stored in the cloud.
  • Always take a risk-based approach when moving assets to the cloud. This also involves securing the devices used to access a cloud environment.
  • Encryption is key to all your actions.
  • Train your team to understand how to mitigate security concerns in the cloud.

3. Underestimating Costs

Cost efficiency is one of the greatest benefits of a public cloud environment, but many enterprises still underestimate the investment that is required. Providers will usually not charge any costs for the implementation of data, but the transfer can take you several weeks depending on the volume of the data. Many organisations also buy more storage space than what they need.

As the footprint of technology in all businesses continues to grow, companies need a model that develops in alignment with their technological life-cycle. In the end, a 100% public cloud strategy will not always be the most cost-efficient solution. Security is one reason to carefully consider which workloads can run in public and private cloud environments, but cost is definitely another important factor to keep in mind.

4. Compliancy and privacy issues

Security and compliancy are closely related. Especially when you are dealing with sensitive and personal data, changing regulations about privacy are a real concern. Think about the strict privacy rules that are imposed by GDPR obligations. Many enterprise lose track of their data in the public cloud and don’t know who has access. This lack of control can be a real nightmare as you don’t want to risk irregularities. Sanctions are very expensive, but once again reputational damage might be the highest price to pay.

The more data, software and tools an organisation uses, the more challenging compliancy becomes. IT must be able to monitor the tools that are used and where the data is located.

The solution: hybrid cloud

These concerns are the main motivations for companies to return their data to a more private, on-premises environment. Of course, the benefits of cloud solutions are extremely important to remain competitive and to successfully transform your business. This is why many organisations are now discovering the potential of a hybrid cloud solution.

Control is an important aspect of this hybrid cloud environment. It allows an organisation to move part of its applications to the public cloud, while another part remains private. This enables the IT department to stay in control of the most critical operations. They can manage all data and establish protocols for how particular data should be handled. A hybrid cloud environment is also a very scalable solution that will significantly lower IT costs. A purely private cloud is often extremely expensive and time consuming.

In short, hybrid cloud solutions combine the security and control of an on-premises environment with the versatility of public cloud computing. To find the best strategy for your organisation, you can seek professional assistance of a dedicated IT partner. Computacenter has the expertise to understand your needs and introduce a hybrid cloud solution that will benefit your company in the short and in the long run.

Want to know more?

Download our free e-book about upcoming IT challenges or visit our website to discover how we can accelerate digital transformation in your business.

4 trends that are shaping our future

At the start of 2020 I was thinking about our customers, our partners and the market.  I was trying to identify the key trends that are, or will, impact all these areas.  In the course of that reflection, I came up with 4 key words describing this complex dynamic.  Those four words were Velocity, Vulnerability, Sustainability and Experience.

What I hadn’t foreseen or accounted for was Covid-19, and the impact this would have upon our customers, our partners, the market and the wider world.  But when I think about the past 5-6 months, I think there’s a context (somewhat different to that which I’d intended!) that gives those 4 words a powerful relevance and meaning.

That aside, as this isn’t another blog about Covid-19 – I see people, and businesses starting to plan and look towards their future.  These trends feel as relevant now as they ever did, perhaps even more so.

I thought I would share my view of how I see the market, expressed through these 4 words.  But before you read on, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then this short video should hopefully set the tone for what I’m about to write:

Velocity

Industries are changing at an incredible pace.  Look at the technology market as an example, but the same applies in retail, manufacturing, public services and beyond.  We used to call this “digital transformation”, that term is fatigued now – but nonetheless it’s true that the pace of change is un-abating.  What this means to our customers (or ourselves) is that the ‘time to follow’ is so much reduced from what it was before – literally in some instances from months and years to days and weeks.  This creates tension and challenge, as much more that we must deal with is “new”, and there’s no established blueprint or playbook.   This does however create the opportunity in co-creation and partnerships, identifying and leveraging specific expertise to unlock value and creativity to deliver the innovative outcomes that our customers demand and that offer us competitive advantage…. for the short while that that lasts!

Vulnerability

It would be easy to presume that I mean Vulnerability as a proxy for Security.  Security is paramount, particularly in the context of the changes we see in the world and in the technology landscape.  But I see vulnerability as a far more profound issue.  It covers the full breadth of impacts and disruption that organisations face, that they did not choose nor often foresee (look at Covid-19).  Every business, every person, everything is vulnerable, so the mitigation to this is to be flexible and adaptable.  Those that are flexible and adaptive can potentially thrive, whilst those that appear strong today, but are inflexible will not.  Time has offered us many examples that prove this to be true – Blockbusters, Kodak etc.  You cannot eliminate vulnerability, but it can be managed and reduced.

Sustainability

This is SUCH a huge topic now.  Sustainability/CSR or whatever label you wish to apply has, in recent years, moved from being a peripheral consideration to something that sits at the heart of businesses’ identity and values.  Consumers, partners, suppliers are no longer expecting, they are demanding that organisations operate responsibly and in a value driven way within their communities and ecosystems.  When it comes to partnering, businesses will choose to work with organisations that share similar visions and values and will penalise those that do not.  This topic is not just about “green credentials” – sustainability is about supporting communities and people – themes of equity and inclusivity start to be introduced (check out the concept of the “Triple Bottom Line“).

I speak to many large organisations with “big visions” for their future, and for the world.  Being aligned to these visions and supporting them is not optional anymore.

Experience

I have spent a lot of time talking about experience from the perspective of Workplace solutions.  This is still relevant, providing great Employee Value is key in the ongoing war for talent we see across markets and industries.  It has been proven that providing a great place to work leads to better customer satisfaction, leads to better returns, and the cycle continues.  The trend of experience also encompasses the experience of the consumer of the services.  Providing compelling and engaging services and touch points is imperative in the battle for the consumer.  We all see, experience and act on this in our home lives – we are increasingly intolerant of poor experiences or those that do not meet our expectations.  A relentless focus on experience, both internally and externally is key to success.

Summary

When I think back to all the conversations I’ve had with customers, they anchor back to one or more of these trends.  There are nuances by industry as you would expect, but they form a bedrock to help understand the challenges and opportunities businesses face as they look towards their future.

Coming next…. Our response and role in helping to respond to these challenges will feature in upcoming blogs.  In the meantime, check out the  insights from our UK Chief Technologists in our latest publication.