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GUIDE

Advantages of Cloud Computing: The Ultimate Guide

All the advantages and disadvantages in one simple guide.
Author: Jake, Marketing  
   Last updated: August 7, 2017

While there is a great rhetoric surrounding the cloud, we feel that there needs to be a more conclusive discussion around the advantages of cloud computing.

This should enable both technology and business outcomes to come together and create beneficial change.

As such, this article will bring collate the various cloud advantages, with supporting evidence and examples that you can apply to your business.

Contextualising the Cloud Computing Advantages

As can been seen from the various press around big data, data science and machine learning - the cloud is becoming a focal point for digital transformation.

It provides a necessary platform to which organisations can sprint into value-lead projects.

If you stand back, and look at some of the key trends enterprises have been prioritising in recent years, cloud is very much leading the way.

Jumpstart guide

This does not infer that you need to go full-out cloud - hybrid solutions are becoming the preferred route to various business, whereby they can put ‘quick-win’ workloads into the cloud.

So, with this dynamic change, enterprise organisations have come a long way in just a few years. We are seeing widespread adoption by companies who are appreciative of the scope that the cloud provides in boosting corporate efficiency, productivity and revenue.

2017 will prove to be the year of a true acceleration of the development of the next-generation cloud.

A quick run-down of what makes the Cloud great

While this article goes into great depth around the general and industry specific advantages of cloud computing, you may just be looking for a high-level overview.

We have got you covered.

See below a conclusive infographic that evaluates the ease with which a cloud computing plan can be adapted to meet your organisation’s specific requirements at any one time, or the enhanced ability that it gives you to budget in accordance with those needs, for the short, medium and long term.

advantages of cloud computing

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10 Noteworthy Cloud Computing Advantages

Having demonstrated a birds-eye-view perspective on the subject above, here are the 10 key advantages explained in detail.

They each cover:

  • Questions to consider
  • Supporting evidence
  • Further reading

However, if there is anything else you think would be helpful, we’d love for you to comment below.

1. Flexibility is crucial to 64% of people

Firstly, we start with the matter of flexibility and agility. The means in which a company can expand instantly through cloud-based services.

In addition to expanding operations and reach, organisations are equally empowered to take existing servers, such as the use of excel as a business-critical application, and expand its capabilities to no end.

This form of utility is especially useful to businesses that have established key revenue opportunities, but lack the infrastructure to exploit them.

You may frequently hear people tout this as one of the most practical advantages of cloud computing - it is easy to understand why.

Questions to consider:

  • Does my data strategy enable our organisation to scale at will?
  • How could a re-organisations of my hybrid approach restructure hot data?
  • Which business factors could benefit from a cloud uplift?

Supporting evidence:

Flexibility is so crucial that 65% of respondents to an InformationWeek survey said “the ability to quickly meet business demands” was an important reason to move to cloud computing.

Further reading:

2. Reduce spending on technology by 70%

Well… maybe not reduce spending. But better prioritising spending.

What does that mean?

It means that organisations can ensure that spending can actually be quantified from a financial risk perspective. This can be better understand than previously with a comprehensive TCO - see the great article below.

With this mentality you can reduce the waves of IT teams that are spending 70% of their time of fixing issues around updating infrastructure. By doing so, you afford them the freedom to explore matters like self-service IT and other avenues where they have not yet had the resources to explore.

Questions to consider:

  • How does our 1 year IT plan enable long-term success?
  • Which parts of our data strategy will provide value in moving to the cloud?
  • What services are paid for but not used to capacity?

Supporting evidence:

Here is a really great chart that demonstrates the different outlooks on IT spending over the next few years.

IDC - advantages of cloud computing

Further reading:

3. Disaster Recovery to avoid unnecessary downtime

Disaster recovery seems to be one of the most overlooked advantages of cloud computing.

Why?

Maybe because these events happen less frequently than the very popular phising attempts. Nevertheless, when you elect to trust in the cloud, your approach to considering all elements of your disaster recovery plan change.

Cloud computing providers take care of most issues, and they do it faster.

Make no mistake, there will always be human related incidents, such as the AWS coding error, but global backups mitigate against the risk of cloud computing.

Questions to consider:

  • How does my storage consider DR?
  • When did I last conduct a computing audit?
  • Is my cloud provider prepared for disasters?

Supporting evidence:

75% of all downtime is reported to be due to a power outage. Hardware and human errors round up the top three. Source

Further reading:

4. Implementing automatic software updates

With the free and simple distribution of updates, the approach to IT solutions [including enterprise] is very much grounded with an iterative approach.

Hence the current ‘evergreen’ Windows 10.

This means that your everyday SaaS solution to business critical applications and more are continually eager to apply fixes, features and general improvements.

However, in an age where server maintenance was a significant portion of IT’s time, this revelation places the responsibility on the cloud computing suppliers.

As such, time is freed up to focus on innovation and enablement. Which in-turn means internal teams can rapidly deploy their work company-wide, and beyond the office.

Questions to consider:

  • How much energy is spent maintaining current infrastructure?
  • Do current laggard mentalities impact security threats?
  • Which of my current solutions need updating the most?

Supporting evidence:

In 2010, UK companies spent 18 working days per month managing on-site security alone.

Further reading:

5. Cap-Ex reduced to avoid 40% over capacity

Whether the argument is AWS vs Azure - all cloud providers are very much focused on providing a pay as you go service.

More than just a monthly overview, they are providing contextual minute-by-minute pricing structures.

This means that there’s no need for capital expenditure at all.

This also has the benefit whereby business have minimal project start-up costs and predictable ongoing operating expenses. We have seen this factor very beneficial in organisations where those in modelling and data-lead teams are able to quickly spin off a server to see what their work would look like in scale.

The matter of CapEx vs OpEx is frequently referred to, however, this is the type of practical, business advantage to cloud computing.

Questions to consider:

  • How could my organise benefit from being able to experiment with limited costs?
  • How much over-capacity do we experience?
  • Are our usage levels seasonal?

Supporting evidence:

We often find enterprises paying in the range of 40 percent for over-capacity. Source

Further reading:

6. Increased collaboration & communication for a a 400% ROI

The age of productivity is among us, and core to that belief is the ability to effectively collaborate and communicate with staff.

“Yes, I know this is important”

But the phenomenon is far beyond people working in the same office, this is about satisfying a possibly global workforce to create dynamic teams. Teams that are informed and avoiding unnecessary duplication.

The cloud helps to dissolve a great deal of these issues.

What does that mean?

From practical improvements, such as the ability to sync up and work on documents and shared apps simultaneously, to following colleagues and records to receive critical updates in real time.

This effortless, controlled access is made ever possible for IT to enable with the cloud.

Questions to consider:

  • Have a researched my staff to understand their opinions towards company communications?
  • Do I think there is a business value in improving staff productivity?
  • How distributed is my workforce?

Supporting evidence:

A survey by Frost & Sullivan found that companies which invested in collaboration technology had a 400% return on investment.

Further reading:

7. Work from anywhere [even with a 6% pay-cut]

As long as employees have internet access, they can work from anywhere.

While this rhetoric has been spoken for a while, there has been a recent change in dynamic that actually makes the possible for employees of all businesses.

Security.

The recent developments in user specific rights management has meant that the often vulnerable personal Dropbox and personal cloud providers can be controlled through specific policies of IT departments.

Such developments have made the ever-knowing business case of a distributed workforce possible. It no longer creates vulnerability, and as such, the most confidential of data can be accessed globally, and from many devices while maintaining its integrity.

In addition, this flexibility positively affects knowledge workers' work-life balance and productivity.

Questions to consider:

  • What would be needed to enable a full distributive workforce?
  • How open is our current mobile policy?
  • When do we forecast for our staff to work wherever?

Supporting evidence:

One study found that 42% of working adults would give up some of their salary if they could telecommute, and on average they would take a 6% pay-cut.

Further reading:

8. Updating document control to accommodate users

In conjunction with the point 6 & 7, document control is a cloud computing advantage that impacts the the daily interaction of users.

This benefit specifically takes away the need to continually send iterations back and forth, increasing the possibility of overlapping.

It equally avoids the instability that would otherwise slow down scaling organisations. Specifically when their is a reliance on accessing the right copy of sensitive information.

Questions to consider:

  • How much time is wasted in through sharing incorrectly?
  • Are we satisfying the desires of our employees?
  • Does our approach to document control reflect our commitment to digital transformation?

Supporting evidence:

73% of knowledge workers collaborate with people in different time zones and regions at least monthly. Source

Further reading:

9. Improving security with $3 million cost per breach

‘Security is a process. Not a product.’ – Bruce Schneier

The matter of data security is a difficult subject because there tends to be a see-saw approach whereby you are either secure or you aren't which in reality is not the case.

As Bruce Schneier notes, it is a process. One that has to be continually reviewed and never taken from granted. The way in which the cloud computing market has had to adapt has meant that cloud providers are ever under the pressure to provide far great security solutions that those on private servers, in order to break down the mental barrier.

And - it has.

Cloud providers have made sure that products like Microsoft Azure have really become [almost] impenetrable business tools. In addition, the level of capital investment that goes into their process, means that no private solution is as compelling from this perspective.

However, there is no need to reconsider everything, one of the most compelling advantages of cloud computing, specifically larger organisations, is that a hybrid approach can enable them to move select data, and once comfortable, build a roadmap.

Questions to consider:

  • What are my greatest security limitations?
  • Do our security protocols limit the productivity of users?
  • How will security change within our organisation over the next 5 years?

Supporting evidence:

Cybercrime damage costs to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021. Source

Further reading:

10. Saving the environment with 30% less consumption

Lastly, you have the environmental impact of the cloud.

While this may not be the most economically driven cloud computing advantage, it is definitely a beneficial one for organisations that are looking to manage their public presence.

Through using a cloud provider, the are incredibly conscious of their impact, and give you the frame of mind to continue.

In addition, businesses using cloud computing only use the server space they need, which decreases their carbon footprint.

Questions to consider:

  • Does your data centre policy consider the environment?
  • Could you improve your environmental impact?
  • Are you investing in becoming a green organisation?

Supporting evidence:

Using the cloud results in at least 30% less energy consumption and carbon emissions than using on-site servers.

Further reading:

Summary: totalling the Advantages of Cloud Computing

So there you go, here are 10, very compelling cloud computing advantages.

So what?

Good question. The importance of these 10 factors is not to use every single one of them and put all of your data in the cloud, quite the contrary.

The methodology is that you can use the list to consider various elements of your strategy and understand if selective use of a hybrid model is beneficial to your organisation.

While it would be easy to see that ‘all in cloud’ is the way to go, in reality, the means of the business, its industry, its customers, its regulations are very important to consider.

Nevertheless, we hope that in discussing these with your colleagues, and possibly different teams, you can collectively create a more suitable structure.

So in one handy list…

10 powerful Advantages of Cloud Computing

  1. Flexibility
  2. Reduce spending on technology
  3. Disaster
  4. Automatic software updates
  5. Cap-Ex reduced
  6. Increased collaboration & communication
  7. Work from anywhere
  8. Document control
  9. Security
  10. Environmentally friendly

Let us know which of these advantages of cloud computing was the most interesting below. Should you wish to learn more, download this hybrid cloud jumpstart guide.

Topics: Azure, Infographic, Cloud

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