24 October 2021
Here are a couple of ways that the cloud can help you:
If you are looking to digitize or automate some of your business processes, leveraging the cloud can make the process quicker, safer, and more affordable.
If you have existing digital infrastructure, moving some of these to the cloud can help them become more scalable, secure, and reliable.
Before I expound on these points, I want to give a working definition of the cloud in the context of this post:
The cloud can be thought of as just a bunch of computers and databases that someone else owns. On one side of the spectrum, you can get these computers bare, and it would be up to you to utilize them. On the other side of the spectrum, the cloud can provide full-fledged services that you can use right away.
There are multiple steps involved in creating custom software for your business. Here is a rough outline of the process:
Using the cloud helps the most with points #2 through #4.
For point #2: The cloud offers infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), which means renting the cloud provider’s computers. That means that you can avoid paying the large upfront costs associated with buying your own hardware. Most cloud providers offer a monthly payment scheme for this type of service. What was once a capital expenditure can become an operation cost, and a more affordable one at that. One example of IaaS is Amazon’s Amazon EC2.
For point #3: You still need software developers to build an app. But rather than building all parts of the application, you can take advantage of cloud providers’ platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and software-as-aservice (SaaS) offerings, so that you don’t have to do everything by yourself. For example, you can use Microsoft’s Azure App Service, a PaaS offering, which takes care of the infrastructure needed to host and scale your applications with minimal effort. You can also use SendGrid, available as a SaaS offering in Microsoft Azure, to handle sending emails for you, again with minimal effort from your developers. This leaves your developers with more time to work on your application’s core business logic.
For point #4: Having IT professionals to keep your application running smoothly is still essential. However, when using cloud services, this responsibility shifts toward the cloud provider and away from your own staff. This means that you may be able to save on operational costs by hiring fewer network administrators or IT professionals.
Cloud providers have years of experience and professional staff that are familiar with all aspects of building and maintaining software infrastructure. Working on scalability, reliability, and security using your own in-house staff is definitely possible, but there are instances where you can be better served leveraging the services that cloud providers offer.
For example, Azure App Service has an auto-scale capability, wherein the computer hosting your application can become more powerful when demand spikes so that your application continues to run smoothly and users can still see your website without any performance degradation. This quick reaction to demand may be difficult or even impossible when using your in-house IT infrastructure.
Cloud services also have measures for risk mitigation in the event of disasters. For example, the storage offerings in Azure have replication capabilities, meaning that your data can be stored in multiple locations. This prevents data loss in case the data center originally hosting your content becomes unavailable for whatever reason. Achieving this level or reliability may also be difficult or expensive when using in-house IT infrastructure.
Needless to say, security on cloud data centers is also top-notch. Several layers of security are in place, from physical (choosing secure data center locations, security personnel, etc.) to digital (firewalls, access restrictions, etc.).
Cloud services can do most of the technical heavy lifting for you, leaving you more time to focus on core business activities.