If you are using a traditional setup for your business, moving to a cloud-first strategy can be a big change. One of the main reasons many companies stick with their on-premise or hybrid strategy is that they feel more in control of their servers, and their team better understands the security processes involved.
However, more and more companies are choosing to move to a cloud-first strategy as they carry several business benefits – especially for Operations teams. Let’s take a look at what these benefits are and how to determine if a cloud-first strategy is right for you.
What is a cloud-first strategy?
A cloud-first strategy is where all your IT infrastructures are moved to cloud-computing platforms such as AWS, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure. Instead of relying on physical resources such as server clusters, they house resources in the cloud.
This might seem a radical idea to teams who are used to hardware that is co-located, but the opposite is also true. Developers who have already adopted a cloud-first mentality may also find the idea of having a server tied to a physical location radically different. Teams who operate on a cloud-first basis don’t think of their servers as a piece of hardware or even virtual machines – instead, they think of them as a piece of software used to fulfil a business function. The fact that this software eventually runs on a physical CPU is a secondary concern.
Why choose to go cloud-first?
There are many reasons a business might decide to go cloud-first, and we can’t discuss them all in this post; otherwise, it will become a book instead! We can, however, highlight some of the main reasons why, but the importance of these reasons will vary per company. For example, some companies may believe that scalability is their most important benefit, while others may believe it is the low-cost aspect.
If you have ever tried to get a new service online, you are probably familiar with the struggles involved. You not only need to get your IT team on board to provide you with a new server, but you also need to raise a ticket, negotiate with vendors and also get a sign-off from a manager.
Cloud-first strategies remove all of these issues as you don’t control the hardware, so getting any new service online only involves getting approval for the expenditure. All your team needs to do is determine what they need from the software, and then the build pipeline handles all of the other stuff for them.
All businesses are looking to make more money, whether they currently have an on-premise or cloud solution – and cloud computing is the most cost-effective option. Most major cloud providers offer up-front cost calculators to make their pricing more transparent.
If you look at the cost of a monthly subscription to a cloud service and weigh it up against the cost of renting a physical space for your server, connectivity for your server, power and cooling for the server, and so on – then you will soon see that cloud computing is often the most cost-effective option for most businesses.
Your team will want to know what your application is doing at all times. When you are running a dedicated server, there will be lots of different applications and device log sources connected to it, which means that completing their requests will be doable, but it will just take a long time. It is not such hard work in the cloud as software can combine logs into a single dashboard, allowing your team to know how your application is performing at a glance. This keeps you informed of when you are experiencing problems and gives you more insight into your software.
No IT engineer likes getting notifications at 3 am to learn that a power cut or a disk drive on a critical server is failing. But, this can often be the reality when you are dealing with on-site hardware, as someone has to be available to service the hardware, and service outages tend to happen at awkward times.
Cloud computing removes the need for your IT team to deal with outages, as it becomes the responsibility of your cloud computing provider – as they are the ones who have to maintain their hardware and ensure there is power available at all times. They should also have a backup data centre ready in case their entire data centre goes offline. If the availability of your application is critical to your business success, then a cloud-first strategy beats on-premises services every time.
Most dedicated hardware servicing teams have an entire test environment set up and maintained, meaning hardware changes can take a long time to push through. It also means that these environments are stateful, and the team needs to carefully consider how to apply patches when developing new software features, or they can incur significant costs.
This is not a concern with a cloud-first strategy as resources are quick and easy to obtain, so software developers do not need to worry about any patching between Version A and Version B. They can spin up an entirely new environment to run Version B when it is ready, and once this new version is serving customers, they can then retire Version A.
Scalability is perhaps the most well-known benefit of cloud computing, as auto-scaling allows cloud providers to scale any resources dedicated to an application automatically. For example, if they detect that your memory usage is too high for too long, they can automatically bump you to the next level without needing a human being to get involved. Or they can upgrade your server on the fly if your website suddenly sees a huge increase in traffic.
Scalability usually involves a cost, but the increase in traffic to the site is usually worth the increase in server costs.
Is a cloud-first strategy right for you?
Nobody can decide whether a cloud-first strategy is right for your business except you. As you can see above, however, there are various benefits involved with a cloud-first approach that may appeal to you.
When it comes to cloud solutions, there are many options available. So there is also a crossover with many of Agile Recruit’s specialisms – although the core element of roles tend to be in the Big Data and DevOps areas.
In this high-demand area, support from experienced recruiters at Agile Recruit is critical in finding the right cloud job for you or the right candidates for your cloud vacancies.