The Benefits And Risks of Cloud Platforms

By Chad Stigant|5 July 2018

Cloud platforms come with an enormous amount of benefits, providing they're aligned with the needs of your business. Here we explore the benefits and risks associated with cloud platforms so you can approach cloud migration with open eyes.

Companies should never consider cloud platforms as easy fixes for operational challenges. While migrating to the cloud can resolve challenges such as the ability to scale or flex according to demand and changes to the business, it’s a process that needs to be planned carefully to avoid downside risks. 

Benefits of cloud platforms 

Moving away from traditional technology solutions, such as on-site servers, connectivity and telephony can generate cost savings and on-going efficiencies. Here we outline the key benefits of cloud platforms. 

#1: Efficiency 

Cloud platforms are generally more efficient than the legacy technology they're replacing, if you implement the right solutions. Cloud services are designed to be accessible from any device, anywhere in the world, so wherever your team, suppliers, partners or clients are, they can login and access what they need.

All activities performed in the cloud are saved in the cloud, so systems, files and documents are up-to-date and backed up regardless of whether they were accessed from an office PC or a remote worker using a mobile device. With Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and other encrypted servers, the security risks from sharing documents and sensitive information across the Internet are negligible, provided that users access company systems and data in secure way.

Another primary benefit of using cloud platforms is the significant savings businesses make on IT infrastructure. Once you switch to the cloud, IT infrastructure is no longer your problem, not your capital expenditure to make. Cloud providers deliver services at scale, which means you can access as much or little as needed, and ramp up and down as required. The cost of maintaining, upgrading and secure that hardware is the responsibility of the cloud provider. 

#2: Flexibility

Within the world of ‘cloud’ providers are a wide range of service offerings, depending on what your business needs. You can pick from public, private or hybrid options - a mix of the two. And you can choose from 4 primary ‘as-a-service’ options: Software (SaaS), Platform (PaaS), Desktop (DaaS), and Infrastructure (IaaS).

Almost every business already uses SaaS products in some way or another. From productivity and collaborative tools to accountancy and payroll software, SaaS products are everywhere. Most cloud platforms use a subscription model based on the number of users a company needs to provide services for. This is a highly flexible option that allows businesses to scale without a hefty investment in IT. For example, as a company grows new users can be added as required, or if cuts have to be made the cost of cloud platforms can also be reduced accordingly. Many cloud platforms can be switch on and off depending on demand. So if your business doesn’t require 24/7 access to specific cloud services, these can be switch off overnight or at weekends to reduce costs further. 

#3: Strategic advantages

Organisations that have switched to the cloud are more agile. When you aren't managing your underlying technological infrastructure, you can focus on core areas, such as growth and delivering services to customers.

IT teams can re-tool and re-focus, putting energy into projects that generate outsized value and long-term impact. Your team benefit from the most up-to-date technology and security, keeping everyone on the same page and able to work towards goals that matter, rather than bogged down by operational activities.

However, cloud platforms are not without some risks. 

Business risks of cloud platforms

Although the cloud platform sector and the security surrounding it has evolved immensely, it does involve entrusting an external organisation with your company’s systems and data. 

Cyber threats are evolving rapidly, and cloud providers represent enticing targets for cybercriminals and hackers. When you are sending sensitive information to a cloud provider, you need to be confident in the security they use, especially when it comes to encryption and storage. Look for nationally and internationally recognised certifications and verification from customers that your data and other services are secure in the cloud.

However, it’s also important to remember that cloud providers risk substantial reputational damage if they suffer a data breach. Reputable providers will focus significant resources on ensuring their processes and systems are secure.

Compliance and governance issues are also a risk; but just because your business operates in a regulated sector doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of cloud platforms. Instead work with a cloud services provider with expertise in your industry, who will align their services and processes with regulatory requirements, and is proactive in reducing regulatory risk. 

For more information on risk, download our Cloud Usage and Risk Analysis here.

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