Today, cloud is increasingly viewed as an organizational necessity. But while some businesses see cloud as simply a cost-cutting tool, others are beginning to consider it a dynamic competitive advantage, and are tapping into its potential to change the way they do business by customizing the architecture and vendor mix to suit their strategic goals.
For the enterprise cloud, one size does not fit all, particularly where compliance is concerned. Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud options offer significant depth and complexity, and to a certain extent, those can be tailored. But without expert cloud engineers, an enterprise isn’t going to get exactly what it needs from AWS. Beyond this, the cloud giant doesn’t offer solutions for certain types of compliance, which some organizations must consider.
That said, even a single provider can’t be a perfect fit 100% of the time for 100% of a company’s projects. Some projects may depend on AWS, Microsoft Azure, or some other platform, while others have a mandate for private cloud.
This notion of one size not fitting all is a catalyst for cloud adoption because it creates conditions where a business must do its utmost to remain competitive, since no one approach is guaranteed over another. Even hosting internally is not necessarily the best choice, since projects may eventually reach the point of making more sense (strategically, financially, etc.) as external efforts.
[See BYOD: Is There a Security Risk?]
But why mix and match? Customizing clouds and vendor mixes begets a beneficial distribution for an organization. On one level, not all the company’s proverbial “eggs” are in one provider’s basket. We’ve all seen large providers have large failures. Diversifying your assets over multiple providers helps insulate a business from that total failure risk. Ultimately, however, an organization needs to find providers that can work well with one another. At the same time, it’s important to hedge against creating more potental problems, with the range of compatibility issues and an overabundance of resources that end up going under-consumed to be considered.
So how, exactly, can cloud enhance a company’s competitive edge?
When geared 100% to the needs of your business, cloud can produce a dynamic competitive advantage. Consuming cloud as a service through a managed service provider (MSP) or AWS shifts your spending model in terms of both CapEx and OpEx, supporting a broader array of business agility-related decisions. Another major competitive advantage cloud delivers is the lowered cost of entry into new geographic locations, and by extension, new markets.
It’s feasible that many large enterprises could, at some point, be based fully in the cloud. Whether that’s through utilizing multiple clouds or a single cloud is yet to be seen; a reasonable case could be made for either approach. Still, working with providers that offer several clouds — public, private, and hybrid — is currently the best approach.
[See Over-provisioning? A Wake Up Call From the Cloud]
The fundamental reason cloud offers a competitive advantage for the enterprise plays to that segment’s tendency, for good or ill, to not move of systems unnecessarily. Businesses can invest the cost and amortize it over the life of the system. Often, the cost to move can be prohibitive, but with cloud that barrier doesn’t exist in the same way. To get started in a public cloud requires a relatively small investment (sometimes pennies). With the proliferation of public, private and hybrid clouds, the real game changer for the enterprise is the increased capacity for incremental growth through utilizing a provider with both a public and private cloud.
By leveraging a unified private and public cloud system, a business can alter its consumption model — growing incrementally at first, then consolidating to a private cloud to make a new baseline more predictable, in line with actual growth once those pennies start to add up.
By Jake Gardner