The term ‘cloud first’ has been floating around for the better part of this decade. In its simplest terms it means, ‘to consider cloud-based technology solutions before all others’. This could be when a new IT project crops up, or a refresh or replacement is identified.
In 2013, the UK government introduced a ‘cloud first’ policy for all technology decisions. They defined this as, ‘Departments remain free to choose an alternative to the cloud but will need to demonstrate that it offers better value for money.’ Government Cloud First Policy
Many large enterprises will already have a cloud first policy by default, whether they’ve defined it as such or not. SMEs are also starting to move towards this approach. However the path can certainly be more daunting without in-house expertise and guidance.
What are the benefits of a cloud first strategy?
By adopting a cloud first strategy, businesses can move away from maintaining and managing their own on-site technology stack. The rapid growth of the cloud gives even the smallest businesses access to the latest and best technology available.
It’s become more challenging for on-premise alternatives to match the functionality or value of products built for mass consumption. By subscribing to a service provider for software, platforms or infrastructure, a business can achieve premium services at a regular, guaranteed (often low) cost.
Additionally, by using a cloud service provider, you no longer need the skills to do complex technical management in house. Your provider will manage the support of their own systems, maintenance, resilience and security.
Cloud isn’t all about cost reduction
Although some cloud services may offer a cheaper alternative to on-premise options, a cloud first strategy is about more than simply upfront price.
Cloud services often operate as ‘pay-as-you-consume’. This can be incredibly cost-effective by providing a guaranteed regular sum to pay. It removes the need for spare capacity, as per on-premise solutions, and also negates the requirement for upfront investment. Added to this is the reduction of housekeeping/overhead costs.
Put all these together and you get better value, less wastage, increased predictability, improved affordability and a higher return on investment for your IT budget.
Which services are now heavily cloud based?
A few technologies have leant themselves to the cloud model more than others. Security, collaboration and productivity tools, storage and email filtering are typical examples where cloud is incredibly dominant. These are also areas where being up to date is considered important. By using a cloud service, the latest updates can be pushed out to all users globally as soon as they’re tested and approved. This is incredibly important for security tools such as antivirus and email filtering.
Storage-as-a-service is popular amongst growing companies due to the ability to rapidly upscale without major upheaval.
Collaboration and productivity tools are now almost exclusively cloud first, with the popularity of Office 365 and G Suite. With the long-list of benefits associated with both services, there is little reason to look for a non-cloud based alternative. All employees work from the same software versions, the tools can be used on virtually any device, from any location, cloud storage capacity is generally provided for documents and emails, and so much more. Read more about the apps available in Office 365.
What are the dangers of a cloud first mindset?
While cloud first sounds like a modernist approach, it should be approached with caution and consideration, as should any big business decision. Be mindful to not have cloud first turn into ‘cloud only’. There are alternatives out there which may in fact be a better choice, depending on your specific requirements. The bottom line is: do your research without blinkers.
Finding a cloud partner
M-Tech are advocates of cloud computing, but we understand that moving wholly to the cloud isn’t right for everyone. We will work with you to assess all viable solutions and only recommend a cloud approach if we think it’s right for you.
Whether you are totally new to the world of cloud computing, or looking for a new provider, we will support you through the process from start to finish.