As a kid, I went camping with my family a lot. This was before the days of smartphones and mobile video games, so we had to come up with ways to entertain ourselves during downtime. My go-to activity was cloud watching. While it was fun to see them shapeshift into pirate ships and dragons, it was also a bit infuriating: as soon as I’d see the perfect shape form – before I could turn a parent’s attention away from driving tent pegs to looking skyward – it was gone.
What is the Cloud and Why Should I Use It?
Fast forward a few decades, and I'm still looking at clouds. I can see why clients find the process both thrilling and infuriating: as soon as they have a sense of the shape of the right cloud for them, it shifts. But what is a cloud system, and how is it beneficial for your business?
The cloud, in its most basic definition, is a collection of data centers. More broadly, the cloud is information you can access remotely through the web. Instead of storing data, applications and software on an organization's self-managed data centers and hard drives, they can be stored digitally on off-site servers that can be accessed through the public or private internet, creating connectivity across an organization. The connectivity gained by those using cloud systems boosts collaboration, allowing team members on-demand access to data, documents and tools used by the business.
For organizations using the cloud, the advantages go beyond collaboration. Your workforce can access data and information anytime on any device, catering to an increasingly digital and on-the-go workforce. The data stored in cloud-based systems offer a single version of the truth and improve the quality and governance of this data through consistent formatting and version history to reduce/reverse human error. Also, these systems are flexible and change based on your organization's needs, allowing you to scale up or down, update your system, add new tools or unlock new features. As organizations move to the cloud, they can start by integrating with existing platforms and continue to scale their cloud footprint over time as their needs shift. The continued investment in the cloud will free up IT resources to focus on strategic initiatives while offering security, loss prevention and a more sustainable option for the future.
Selecting the Right Cloud System for Your Business
How can they find the right mix of on-premises and cloud-based? Do they use a single cloud provider or a multi-cloud approach? Which parts of their IT footprint are best suited for the cloud? Applications? Platforms? Infrastructure? Where should they land on the ever-evolving public vs. private cloud strategy debate? There is no alone-size-fits-all approach for the cloud, and as organizations look to achieve greater business agility, that "right fit" has an ever-decreasing shelf life.
While finding the right fit is a moving target, overall cloud usage continues to be a priority among clients. In the CGI Client Global Insights, executives we interviewed cite the broad use of public, private, and hybrid cloud systems to support both internal needs and solutions in support of clients and customers.
Types of Cloud Systems
What are Public Cloud Systems?
Public cloud systems are owned and operated by a third-party cloud provider (AWS, Google, Microsoft, etc.) and offer shared infrastructure and resources for any organization, business or subscriber using the public internet. Computing, storage, applications and tools are available to all users and subscribers on demand. Customization is limited, as the cloud service provider owns the environment and its features but offers on-demand scalability. The service provider covers the maintenance cost and charges customers on a pay-as-you-go model, making the operating cost less expensive for organizations.
How do Private Cloud Systems Differ?
Private cloud systems are used and owned exclusively by an individual organization or business. As a result, a private cloud environment is more expensive, with purchase and maintenance paid for by the organization. Private cloud environments allow businesses to customize the application and services and can integrate with legacy applications and processes. The private cloud also brings higher security, governance, flexibility and control over the cloud environment.
All About Hybrid Clouds
Hybrid cloud systems use a mix of on-prem, public and private clouds in a single, integrated environment. This allows organizations to move workloads and applications between the environments as computing needs change. Depending on security, performance, scalability and cost, among other aspects, the workloads can be moved between the environments. A hybrid cloud environment is often considered the best of both worlds, maintaining the key benefits of the public and private cloud with minimal security risk and high reliability because of the workload diversity.
Why Take a Hybrid Cloud Approach?
For the better part of a decade, organizations with a mix of legacy data infrastructure and cloud looked to cloud-only enterprises with a bit of envy. Now, though, the tide seems to be shifting. While there is still a desire to think cloud first, businesses that invested heavily in the public cloud are facing challenges such as cost overruns, security and compliance risks, and lack of control. These are some of the driving forces for hybrid cloud adoption with, according to IDC, over 90 percent of enterprises worldwide relying on some form of hybrid cloud approach by 2022.
Organizations with a mix of data platforms now have more options for how they bring applications and solutions to market. This mix also provides greater flexibility for how organizations manage (access, move, and store) their data, allowing them to select the right combination to reduce costs and increase security. Of course, choice can be its own challenge: too many choices can be overwhelming without the means to manage them all intelligently.
Bring Agility and Intelligence to Your Data Fabric
Without the right tools and strategy in place, an organization’s mix of public cloud, private cloud, and on-premises data centers is just a hodgepodge of disparate systems that are a headache to manage. With the right tools and strategy, however, one can build and manage a true data fabric that integrates data across the entire organization. This allows an organization to, among other things:
- Make IT modernization faster
- Increase business agility
- Drive more value from data
Speeding up IT modernization
Making it easier to prioritize and plan its digital IT landscape and app portfolio in a way that aligns with business priorities, whether that includes refactoring, transforming, or creating net new.
Increasing your business agility
As the pace of change continues to accelerate, the levels of uncertainty increase. Having an integrated data fabric allows organizations to adapt to new market opportunities with speed and flexibility. Only 18% of commercial executives we interviewed say their business model is highly agile for addressing digitization.
Driving more value from your data
Having data available from the entire organization not only provides a new level of visibility and insight, it also puts that data at the fingertips of developers to innovate with emerging technology such as intelligent automation and predictive analytics.
Overcome Traditional Transformation Tradeoffs
A well-designed and implemented data fabric can help to erase the traditional tradeoffs that organizations had to make with their digital IT landscape. Previously, one could go to the cloud to achieve speed and scalability at the expense of security and cost savings. Alternately, an on-premises solution would provide security and savings but at the expense of speed (of data and of innovation) and scalability.
With the right hybrid cloud model, an organization doesn’t have to choose. What’s more, the right model today might change tomorrow. And that’s okay.
We understand this because we’ve done this for numerous clients.
CGI can help clients deliver a hybrid cloud approach that empowers organizations to shift business models and adapt to disruptive change. We are helping organizations realize the full potential of the data fabric, meeting them wherever they are, accelerating each step of the way on their journey to the hybrid cloud.
Is your organization on the journey to the cloud? Learn more about our cloud modernization services.