If you are using a traditional setup for your business, then moving to a cloud-first strategy can feel like a big change. One of the main reasons why many companies stick with their on-premise or hybrid strategy is that they feel like they are 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 a name given to the strategy where all of 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 find the idea of having a server tied to a physical location radically different as well. 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 runs on a physical CPU eventually, is a secondary concern.

Why choose to go cloud-first?

There are a multitude of reasons why a business might decide to go cloud-first and we can’t talk about 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 the most important benefit for them, while others may believe it is the low-cost aspect.

# Configurability

If you have ever tried to get a new service online, then 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.

# Cost

All businesses are looking to make more money, whether they currently have an on-premise or cloud solution – and cloud computing tends to be the most cost-effective option all around. Most major cloud providers offer a cost calculator up-front in an effort 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.

# Observability

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 so much 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 not only keeps you informed of when you are experiencing problems but also gives you more insight into your software.

# Reliability

No IT engineer likes getting a notification at 3 am in the morning to learn that there is 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.

#Reproducibility

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 think through how to apply patches carefully 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

Scalability is perhaps the most well-known benefit of cloud computing, as auto-scaling allows cloud providers to automatically scale any resources that are dedicated to an application. 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 the need for 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 site is usually worth the increase in server costs.

Is a cloud-first strategy right for you?

Nobody can make the decision about 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 and 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 the experienced recruiters at Agile Recruit is critical in finding the right cloud job for you, or the right candidates for your cloud vacancies.

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