Considering the events of 2020, having a robust, reliable and adaptable cloud-based IT function is essential for business continuity.
But moving to the cloud isn’t a switch it on and leave it process. You need to monitor how your business operates it over time. This includes understanding how your employees use it so you can make improvements as needs change.
That said, the adoption of cloud technologies has been substantial.
And when you think about the benefits of moving your IT infrastructure to the cloud — from security and scalability to improved productivity and collaboration — it’s no surprise. The cloud allows everyone to have access to business applications wherever, whenever.
Not to mention the financial benefits that can be made through savings on hardware and maintenance, as well as profit gained through better collaboration and productivity.
What does your cloud environment look like?
A large number of business applications already exist in the cloud, and many employees already use cloud-based tools. Even if they don’t realise it.
Applications like Google Drive and Office 365, for example, are part of most business cloud environments. Then you have communication and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and Slack, that are growing in popularity.
As employees continue to work remotely, now is the perfect time to think about what your cloud environment looks like.
Start with what business apps already exist in the cloud and what you could move over to the cloud to improve your operations.
It’s important to develop clear guidelines when it comes to the migration process though, so that storage isn’t clogged up unnecessarily and to protect your business from unsafe software, apps or documents.
You might also find that having “gone remote”, employees are struggling with apps, tasks or processes that worked fine in the office.
If they’ve started to change how they work to get around these problems (even something as simple as using Word instead of Google Docs) it could be causing problems further down the line.
Lastly, you also need to think about the costs involved in running and maintaining your cloud.
Let’s start with security though.
Cloud security in a remote world
Protecting your remote workforce from cyber threats requires more than just keeping connections safe.
With your employees working from home or in the field, often using their own devices and connections (home broadband, public Wi-Fi, mobile networks), they’re exposed to new and different risks. How do you manage that?
A combination of good Wi-Fi and SD-WAN can be a great solution.
SD-WAN can create a private internet connection between your employees’ device and your corporate network and applications.
It can be accessed over the internet using a secure portal to sign-in and connect. SD-WAN also allows more varied ways of connecting to your network. Either over 4G, 5G, or an Ethernet connection.
Creating better security in the cloud is something Bravura Solutions needed to do when they came to Vodafone Business.
As a software provider for wealth management, life insurance and funds administration industries so security is always front of mind when making a decision.
As the company grew into more areas, launched more products and added capabilities, it needed to expand its infrastructure and connectivity to manage higher levels of productivity and efficiency.
In the cloud they’re able to easily scale up their capacity as needed, without compromising security.
Making multi-cloud work
Increasingly when it comes to the cloud, businesses are opting for a multi-cloud solution.
It also predicts that this will rise to about 98% over the next three years.
Operating a multi-cloud system can become an administrative headache if it’s not managed properly, as teams are essentially left to manage multiple clouds ad-hoc when services are added.
Left unchecked, having multiple, fast-expanding clouds can cause an array of security and compliance issues.
Considering that moving to the cloud is supposed to improve collaboration, security, compliance and reduce administration, a multi-cloud strategy is essential.
First of all, it means you can easily manage all your cloud assets - and spend - across your providers so you always have visibility over what is happening and can make better decisions for your business.
It also means you can add services based on which cloud they’ll work best on, and even choose services matched to user roles and access so employees have access to the tools they need, without being overwhelmed by an ever-growing cloud environment.
In our guide “There’s a cloud that can make businesses smarter” we talk in more detail about how businesses can use the cloud to improve how they work and react to changing events.
What does the future of cloud look like in a remote working world?
As businesses around the world continue to expand the use of remote working among their workforce, they also need to consider how data and information pass between a more widespread workforce.
Businesses now have to consider how they move the cloud closer to their employees who need it, and this is where Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) comes into play.
MEC moves cloud and IT services out of a centralised cloud and pushes it towards the “edge” of a business’ network so it’s closer to the end-user. This has a number of benefits.
The main one being, that because data doesn’t have to travel as far it reduces delays in services and improves application performance so employees can be more productive. MEC is particularly effective when it comes to managing high-bandwidth applications.
For a business, this could help manage the increasing use of video conferencing and screen sharing between global teams, or for customers dealing with remote contact centres.
From a more advanced perspective, coupling MEC with IoT will help power next-generation technology like autonomous vehicles.
With Edge Computing and 5G, they are using connected technology allowing customers to connect vehicles with their surrounding environment (using cameras and sensors) and enabling the vehicles to anticipate and alert drivers to hazards.