While storing data on traditional on-premise servers used to be the standard procedure for most businesses, the number of companies using cloud services has increased gradually over the years, with research showing that 85% of enterprises will adopt a cloud-first mentality by 2025.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further catapulted this growth. With more people working from home, there’s been a greater need to access information from personal devices. Revenue losses also made it necessary to find more cost-effective means of data storage. Even if the effects of the pandemic subside, many believe companies will continue to invest in cloud technology.
In this blog, we explain a cloud-first strategy, its benefits, and what to consider before jumping in head first.
What is a cloud-first strategy?
A cloud-first strategy is an approach organizations take to IT development and deployment that puts cloud computing services at the forefront of their technology strategy. This strategy can involve transitioning existing applications to the cloud, developing new applications in the cloud, or both. As we detail later in the post, cloud-first strategies are designed to reduce IT costs and improve scalability, agility, and efficiency.
Differences between a cloud-first strategy and cloud-only strategy
It's important not to confuse a cloud-first strategy with a cloud-only strategy. While a cloud-first strategy simply prioritizes cloud services over traditional on-premises solutions, a cloud-only strategy describes a company that only uses cloud services and eliminates on-premises solutions entirely.
Since organizations may need to maintain their legacy systems for business, security, or other reasons, companies often favor a cloud-first approach that allows them to move most of their systems to the cloud, but maintain certain on-premise systems.
Benefits of a cloud-first strategy
Numerous enterprises choose cloud-first policies because they require no in-house technical management, which provides extra time and labor for more productive activities. A cloud-first strategy also proves more efficient than internal data management, particularly when it comes to convenience, cost, scalability, and security.
A key benefit of cloud computing is that the servers are managed off-premise, out of sight and out of mind. Cloud providers take care of them for you and roll out regular software updates, so you don’t have to worry about spending time maintaining the system yourself.
Cloud computing also lets you integrate new technology conveniently, including applications and software. This flexibility can make a significant difference to the overall efficiency of your organization. A 65% majority of respondents to an InformationWeek survey said “the ability to quickly meet business demands” was one of the most important reasons a business should move to a cloud environment.
Most in-house servers require payment upfront, whereas cloud-first plans follow pay-as-you-consume models to lower overhead costs. Enterprises also don’t need financial resources or onsite hardware to use this data storage strategy, and many providers offer affordable and secured prices on their services. If your enterprise is small and growing, the cloud-first method delivers additional storage on demand to ensure you only pay for what you need.
Not only does cloud-first simplify scaling, it can also save you time and expenses. Managing information and applications internally makes it challenging to scale. Scaling can also be expensive as it requires you to redesign infrastructure, increase IT labor, and upgrade equipment. A cloud-first strategy ensures you have the proper data storage to meet the needs of your ever-changing business.
When it comes to your company's most valuable asset-its data- you need to make sure it remains safe, secure and accessible. Cloud providers have built environments with hardened security controls and proven infrastructure far beyond what most enterprises can achieve with on-prem solutions. In fact, RapidScale claims that 94% of businesses saw an improvement in security after switching to the cloud, and 91% said the cloud makes it easier to meet government compliance requirements.
What to consider before adopting a cloud-first strategy
A cloud-first strategy is a better investment for most organizations than in-house management. But you may still be wondering if these benefits outweigh the advantages of retaining on-premise storage, especially if your business operates on a hybrid model.
Consider the following aspects of cloud technology to make an informed decision on adapting the storage strategy that's ideal for your company:
Shared responsibility model
While many companies assume that data stored in the cloud is automatically protected, this isn’t the case. Nearly all cloud providers subscribe to the shared responsibility model, which states that the provider is accountable for the security of the cloud, and the user is responsible for security in the cloud. This means that the cloud service provider is responsible for configuring, managing and securing applications, network controls and the host infrastructure, while the customer is responsible for all of their data stored in the cloud.
Complexities of sprawling infrastructure
Infrastructure sprawl happens when your business has numerous underused servers or endpoints that produce insufficient returns and waste resources. Organizations moving the cloud can experience a similar challenge, known as cloud sprawl, which usually begins when a company fails to adequately monitor and manage individual cloud instances. A good way to mitigate cloud sprawl is to establish clear user policies and ensure ongoing communication between business departments.
Rising cyber threats
While the cloud is definitely more secure than on-premise servers, it doesn’t mean that your data is completely invincible. And since customers are responsible for the security of their data in the cloud, any vulnerabilities to your data are to be taken seriously. Because cloud services accumulate a huge number of users in one ecosystem, they are increasingly becoming a target for cybercriminals. One of the fastest growing vulnerabilities is what experts are calling “ransomware 2.0”, which uses sophisticated types of ransomware — spreads to the cloud and encrypts SaaS data of cloud services.
Protect your data in the cloud with Own
If you’re a technology leader looking to protect your cloud-first strategy, look no further than Own.
Own is a leading SaaS data protection platform, providing automated backups and rapid recovery of SaaS data lost or corrupted by human error, malicious intent, and other risk factors. We also provide data security and governance solutions to help identify, alert and prevent nefarious activities that put data and organizations at risk.