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Cloud Computing and Digital Transformation: You Can’t Have One Without the Other

What does digital transformation mean? I define digital transformation as the combined use of technical solutions, such as cloud computing and blockchain, to modernize existing processes, procedures and overall strategy for an organization and enable rapid modification.

There are several meanings depending on who you ask, and my definition does not make the others wrong. But using my definition will anchor our discussion with the same understanding, ensuring a fruitful discussion. Cloud computing plays an integral role in a digital transformation strategy, and you cannot have one without the other. There are many technologies that cloud computing enables – smart cities, smart buildings and blockchain, for example.

Cloud Computing and Digital Transformation

When moving to the cloud, several things need to change within an organization to completely reap the benefits of cloud computing. Several technology vendors have written operations guides and/or provided guidance on how an organization should change its operations procedures and processes within a cloud computing world.

You might be asking, why have technology vendors done this? One reason is because an organization has to change its operating model from a legacy IT environment to a cloud computing one. Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed (RACI) matrices, governance policies and security are just three areas that have to be looked at.

Organizations also have to ask questions like the following:

  • Are there enough cloud skills on staff?
  • How will staff be retrained and new staff acquired?
  • Do automation, orchestration and DevOps play roles here?

Cloud Computing Solutions for Business Problems

Cloud computing solves many technology problems. But like any technology solution, it must solve business problems to be seen as useful and justify its existence. Two ways to accomplish this are to improve an organization’s efficiency as well as agility.

Freeing up data center space, moving between CapEX and OpEx, and going digital are three ways that cloud computing has helped organizations.

You have heard that security is a big concern for organizations not wanting to use cloud computing technologies, but have you heard about security being a reason for using cloud computing? Privacy and compliance are two more reasons why organizations are moving to cloud computing solutions.

Benefits of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing allows for organizations to more easily achieve standardization and control. And the achievement of true elasticity is a benefit that affords another – minimizing underutilized assets.

Not having to worry about version control is another huge cloud computing benefit. Being able to upgrade easily has long been an issue for organizations. Hardware and software compatibility along with long implementation times are a thing of the past as cloud computing assists in overcoming these issues.

Business process automation is another reason for embracing cloud computing. Adopting cloud computing forces a security-first mindset.

Organizations decide to use cloud computing solutions for several reasons. Reducing the size of their existing data center footprint is one. This can be accomplished by transforming the applications that reside in the data centers to software as a service (SaaS) solutions. Once that has been completed, then the data center footprint size and associated lease decreases.

Another reason is a transformation of an organization’s D/R. Moving the D/R location to the cloud provides the benefit of data center space saving, can add more distance between the primary location with redundancy and save on D/R travel costs. Those are only some of the reasons, but there are many more.

Pitfalls of Cloud Computing

While I have been touting the benefits of cloud computing, I would not be telling the complete story without discussing its pitfalls. One is underestimating the costs associated with cloud computing. But the biggest pitfall is not completely understanding the business requirements, which could cause the misalignment of the cloud computing solution. A closely tied pitfall is not having complete stakeholder buy in.

Security, audit, compliance, privacy and standards (SACPS) not being properly addressed is another. Latency could prove to not be sufficient. Are you certain that the success criteria have been defined with the appropriate performance benchmarks?

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