Since being introduced nearly a decade ago, cloud technologies have become a mainstay within IT departments. In fact, 93 percent of businesses use cloud technology in some form or another.* Beyond being just a place to store information, successful businesses have taken advantage of the cloud to generate better customer data, boost security, and connect devices through the Internet of Things. If you’re looking to do more with your cloud solution, and like to stay one step ahead of competition, read on.
Providing Business Agility
When it comes to staying competitive, it seems businesses typically struggle in two areas:
1) Making sure there’s accurate, usable data about current and potential customers and
2) Realizing the value of that data.
Fortunately, businesses that develop their applications in the cloud gain access to a trove of data that can be used to fine-tune customer profiles with accurate and minute detail, and can help companies quickly bring new products and services to market that those customers want.
The concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) is exploding onto the business scene and giving companies access to data like never before. IoT is the use of network-connected devices, embedded in the physical environment, to improve an existing process or enable a new scenario not previously possible. Some sources predict connected devices will exceed 50 billion by 2020.*
Security is on the minds of all business leaders. Experts predict that 97 percent of Fortune 500 companies have been hacked and the remaining three percent likely have, too (although they don’t know it).* One might suspect that cloud-based platforms, which are designed to connect to multiple systems and potentially millions of end-users, are more accessible to hackers than on-premises database servers. But, here’s the truth: any system connected to the outside world will have some degree of vulnerability… and the cloud is among the safest environments.
Cloud providers, such as Microsoft, invest billions of dollars in their platforms, because security is of utmost concern. One way Microsoft ensures secure platforms is to build them from the ground up and embed security requirements in every phase of development. Cloud systems also meet industry-specific compliance standards and are audited by third-parties to verify security controls. In the event of a security breach, Microsoft’s global incident response team works around the clock to mitigate the effects of any attack against its cloud services.
Businesses today need website infrastructure that can expand and contract as needed to handle the load of any day, at any time of the year—and process information from multiple systems.
A local real estate company, harnessed the power of the cloud for precisely this purpose. Maintaining a website that includes access to thousands of listings from multiple sources across Minnesota, each with its own system for managing data, came as quite the challenge. The real estate company built a new website on a cloud-based platform, Microsoft Azure, to enable virtually unlimited potential for updates and growth, including fluctuations in web traffic. The company can now reduce the time needed to introduce new online tools for customers, while staying competitive.
Whether it’s the slowest day of the year or heaviest web traffic day in your company’s history, your web resources should be scaled to meet potential demand from any device, without compromising the user experience. Systems architected for a cloud environment allow a company’s blocks of “work units” to scale up and down depending on demand – all in near real-time.
The bottom line? Companies that deploy cloud solutions can gain a competitive advantage by reducing time to market, re-inventing customer relationships, improving business systems, and protecting data. Business leaders, are you ready to get ahead of the game with the cloud?
If you are ready to build or move applications to the cloud, but not sure where to begin, start by downloading this free white paper from RBA, Architecting and Migrating Systems for the Cloud.
Tom Iverson is a Cloud Solutions/DevOps Architect for RBA, a Wayzata-based digital and technology consultancy that serves a range of mid-level to enterprise clients. Iverson has consulted with hundreds of companies providing platform education and architecting cloud based solutions for their business needs.
Sources: RightScale’s 2015 State of the Cloud report, Cisco’s “The Internet of Things” report, and Peter Singer, author of the “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know” book.