Cloud computing: To be, or not to be!

March 20, 2023 / By Rajesh Srivastava

As cloud computing enters its 18th year, (AWS started in 2006), massive workloads have been migrated to the cloud, cloud laws, standards and best practices have been enacted, and computing, storage, network and security technologies have been invented just for the cloud.

According to a Gartner article published in October 2022, “Worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 20.7 percent to total $591.8 billion in 2023, up from $490.3 billion in 2022.” The article also said that cloud computing has paved the way for digital transformation and experience.

As evidenced above, there is a growing trend toward cloud computing and its adoption. However, “the why” of cloud computing remains in the “depends on who you ask” category. This question is easier for products, solutions and companies born in the cloud; for everyone else, the decision to move to the cloud hinges on cost savings and possible cloud computing benefits, namely scalability, reliability, agility, accessibility, productivity and measurability.

Ideally, the optimal balance of these benefits would lead to a decision about whether or not certain workloads are suitable for the cloud. However, barring these very few cloud-centric organizations, the cloud adoption decision remains a lopsided view and imbalance of inherent benefits. 

The following are some examples of factors still limiting cloud adoption: 

  • Imbalance of cloud benefits when evaluating cloud migration; focusing on cost savings only instead of full value realization (security, stability, performance and compliance)

  • Lack of data for on-premises systems in terms of:
    • Risk posed by outdated systems (patching, firmware levels, ongoing compatibility with dependent connected systems)
  • Risk of non-compliance per vendor recommended system settings, hence making it hard to make an informed decision to move to the cloud

  • Deeper discounts on infrastructure and licensing for larger entities may entice clients to stay on-premises

  • Personal preference and even a “knight in shining armor” approach when managing on-premises systems

The vision, need and drive for digital transformation comes from the top, most likely as a result of corporate vision and objectives. The corporate governance oversight, along with enterprise risk management, provides guidance to IT governance. Unless an organization believes cloud computing is an integral part of digital transformation, there will always be doubt, or in some cases personal preferences to protect local (on-premises) systems. It is also true that all workloads might not be suitable for cloud computing. However, most commercial workloads in almost all industries are either cloud ready or getting close to ready for the cloud. There is already a trend from “cloud first” to “cloud everywhere.”  

Starting with goals for digital transformation and accounting for all inherent benefits of cloud computing will accelerate its adoption. Organizations that avoid adopting these strategies will probably start to lag in innovation due to the advanced benefits of cloud computing such as data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, and will continue to be stressed by the nuisances of on-premises systems. 

Rajesh Srivastava, CISA, CGEIT, CRISC, PMP, cloud product manager at 3M Health Information Systems.