When considering a move to the cloud, your goal will be to improve your situation. Depending on your unique requirements, you can take advantage of various benefits of cloud computing.
Whether you’re tackling a new deployment or the migration of an existing service, you want your cloud setup to be better than if it was deployed on-premises. To do this, you first need to understand the broader benefits of cloud computing technology and how they apply to your business.
In this situation, most people take a high-level approach to understanding cloud computing benefits. But when you look at the big picture, it’s not always easy to contextualize how your business can realize these high-level benefits. Without understanding some of the complexities that lie beneath the surface, you won’t fully appreciate the actual value these solutions can bring your organization.
In this guide, we move beyond the typical approach many often take. We aim to give you a clear and more complete picture of the advantages of the cloud. We move beyond the big picture, so as we focus on each cloud benefit, we’ll dig deeper to help you understand the underlying features and functionality that combine to make them a reality.
So join us as we take you on an exploration to help you better understand the benefits of cloud computing in 2021.
Cloud Computing: Cost Savings
Migrating services to the cloud allow you to trade capital expense for the variable cost. Instead of mass investment in server hardware and software you may not need, you pay when you consume computing resources and only for the amount you consume.
With the right approach, cloud computing can be the most cost-efficient approach to deploying, managing, and upgrading your IT infrastructure.
The very nature of cloud computing is designed for cost-saving. Flexible pricing models, control over compute resource consumption, and the removal of associated management costs are just ways in which cloud computing delivers real cost-saving against on-premises deployments.
Let’s take a closer look at some fundamental mechanisms allowing the cloud to deliver cost-saving benefits.
Economies of Scale
Cloud computing lets you achieve a lower variable cost than you can realistically achieve on your own.
With usage aggregated across hundreds of thousands of customers, leading cloud providers can achieve massive economies of scale, which allows them to pass on the benefits of a low-cost, pay-as-you-go pricing model.
It creates affordable access to cutting-edge technologies, including robotics, machine learning, and quantum computing. You would never be able to afford these technologies outside the cloud service model, as the combined hardware, software, and associated costs of deploying and maintaining such advanced technologies are astronomical.
The cloud is also a game-changer for smaller businesses. It levels the playing field, opening the door to technologies previously only available to large-scale enterprises.
Cloud pricing models give you the flexibility to control the costs of your technology consumption.
You can add or remove cloud services as and when you need them—scaling your resources in line with demand, whether it’s seasonality or the working hours of your staff—all the while avoiding deployment, management, and upgrade costs associated with on-premises deployments.
On-premises deployments require you to incur the capital cost of owning hardware and software. Whether you use the technology or not, you’ll also have to fork out for the associated management and maintenance costs.
As a result, cloud pay-as-you-go models give you the ability to deliver actual cost savings versus on-premises deployments — not to mention the ability to trial technology risk-free, without associated technology and deployment costs.
Your server hardware and the computing resource it provides is the platform on which your technology infrastructure is built. It typically forms the majority of your cost base.
In the cloud, auto-scaling features give you the ability to control your consumption of compute resources and the associated cost. You can automatically add or remove resources to respond to changes in demand, optimizing your utilization and cost efficiencies for consuming compute resources, so you only pay for what you need.
Deploying compute resources on-premises is a fixed cost. You purchase the server hardware you think you’ll need and incur the charges of managing and maintaining this compute resource, regardless of whether you use it.
Here, it’s easy to see how you can save money with cloud computing. You can explore the cost-saving benefits of the cloud with all major providers:
- Alibaba Auto Scaling
- Azure Autoscale
- AWS Auto Scaling
- Google Compute Engine Autoscaling
Temporary Virtual Machine Instances
A clear example of how cloud technology can offer significant cost savings is temporary virtual machine (VM) instances.
These VMs can be run on a cloud provider’s unused capacity. They are unpredictable, as providers may reallocate their resources at any point. Due to their inconsistent availability, temporary instances are available at highly discounted rates — typically 80–90% cheaper than standard pay-as-you-go pricing.
If you’re regularly running low-priority workloads that can be interrupted, temporary VMs offer an ideal solution. Not only do they bring significant cost savings over standard cloud VM costs, but they also save you the cost and trouble of purchasing, deploying, and maintaining a server specifically for these types of workloads.
Temporary VM instances are available from all four leading cloud providers:
- Alibaba Cloud ECS Preemptible Instances
- Amazon EC2 Spot Instances — up to 90% off
- Azure Spot Virtual Machines — up to 90% off
- Google Cloud Preemptible Virtual Machines — up to 80% off
If you only require limited resources, the free tier options available from cloud providers allow you access to this technology without cost.
Across the leading cloud providers, these free tier options include short-term trials, 12 months free, and always free. Each one gives you access to 100+ cloud products spanning artificial intelligence, compute, database, development, networking, storage, and beyond.
If your requirements are small enough, you could run a cloud deployment through which you never incur a cost. How’s that for a cost-saving mechanism?
What’s more, free tier options give you the ability to trial technologies that would otherwise incur high costs if you were deploying on-premises.
You can explore the cost savings available with free tier options from all four leading cloud providers:
- Alibaba Cloud Free Trial
- Azure Free Account
- AWS Free Tier
- GCP Free Tier
Cloud Computing: Mobility Advantages
Cloud computing mobility provides your co-workers the ability to work anytime, anywhere, on any device, provided they have an internet connection. Never has this benefit been more critical.
Working from Home
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted a massive culture shift towards remote working in the past 12 months. Companies worldwide have shuttered their offices, with the employees now working from home, many indefinitely.
Cloud computing delivers the benefit of virtual workstations by providing your home-working employees with fast, secure, and stable access to corporate applications and data direct from home. You can deliver the same technology access you’d provide if they were in the office to a geographically disparate workforce, so your staff stays as productive from home as they were in the office.
Employees will also benefit from the flexibility of this option, allowing them to optimize their home office experience and maintain a better work-life balance.
Working on the Go
Tapping into the anytime, anywhere accessibility provided by cloud computing lets you support a workforce on the move. Whether it’s a traveling sales force, long-distance commuters, or an out-of-office emergency, users can work on the go.
Mobile employees can stay in the loop, with access to the latest corporate data as soon as it’s posted, collaborating with their colleagues even if they’re thousands of miles apart.
Cloud Computing: Security Benefits
Cloud security is of paramount importance for all organizations and their client sites. You’re not alone in having security concerns when moving your critical systems and sensitive data to a cloud computing solution. When files, programs, and other data are no longer securely held on-site, how can you know they’re protected?
In reality, cloud technology brings with it countless security enhancements and associated benefits. RapidScale research found 94% of businesses reported an improvement in security after switching to the cloud. Let’s take a look at how.
Automatic Software Updates
In moving to IaaS and SaaS, you unlock the security benefits of automatic software updates. It becomes the responsibility — in most situations — of the cloud provider to handle security updates and vulnerability patching of their platform.
It means your tech team is free from the worry and resource drain of consistently tracking and upgrading software to prevent vulnerabilities. Moving services to a cloud platform also removes the potential for staff to ignore updates, which can sometimes occur with the locally installed software.
In moving to the cloud, you will benefit from increased access to a suite of cutting-edge security tools to enhance your security posture.
These security tools are available as cloud services on top of your cloud provider’s existing security infrastructure. Thereby, they benefit from deep integration. Below are just a few examples of cloud security services you can benefit from.
A cloud service automates the detection and mitigation of DDoS attacks. Allowing you to maintain your cloud services and protect against unforeseen DDoS attack costs like increased resource consumption.
Cloud providers deliver a base level of protection through state-of-the-art firewalls that ringfence their platform. In addition to this, there are several common cloud firewall services available:
- Management Console — A central tool to configure and manage firewall rules across your cloud deployments
- Web Application Firewalls — A service to protect your web apps from common exploits
- Virtual Private Network Firewalls — A managed service to deploy firewall protection across your cloud-based VPNs
Identity Access Management Console
Most providers will offer a central console through which you can manage and secure identities, controlling who has access to what along with what each identity can do across all your cloud services.
Manage and control access to multiple accounts and applications across your cloud and on-premises deployments through a single sign-on. It brings with it improved productivity and ease of use for employees.
Encryption by Default
Encryption is a critical practice in the protection of your data. By encoding data, it becomes virtually impossible to decipher without the presence of a decryption key, ensuring the secrecy and security of your data even if it were to be intercepted or extracted.
Cloud brings with it the benefit of encryption by default. With leading providers encrypting data using 256-bit AES, it can provide one of the most robust encryption ciphers available.
Cloud providers will typically provide encryption of your data in two forms:
- Encryption at rest — Protecting your data where it’s stored in the cloud
- Encryption in transit — Protecting your data as it moves to or from the cloud
A significant cloud computing benefit is that security becomes a shared responsibility, allowing you to overcome long-standing information security challenges.
Your on-premises solution likely suffers from unmet responsibilities and limited resources to invest in security. With your attention split across countless demands, an environment can evolve in which attackers can begin to exploit vulnerabilities at all layers.
A cloud-enabled deployment lets you solve those unmet responsibilities, leveraging your provider’s built-in resilience and protection at the infrastructure level. By shifting day-to-day security responsibilities to your cloud provider, you can focus your attention elsewhere to improve your security coverage.
Cloud Computing: High Flexibility
One of the core cloud computing benefits is flexibility. With the underlying infrastructure and resources already available, cloud technology gives you the ability to add or remove resources at the click of a button.
You are creating advantages that aren’t available through on-premises deployments, where you must consider the complex, time-consuming, and expensive process of deploying a new service.
The flexibility of cloud technology unlocks the benefits of several key features and controls.
If you’re a start-up or an expanding organization, the flexibility of the cloud lets you spin up a new virtual office anywhere in the world with just a few clicks. It frees you from the cost and time restrictions applied by an on-premises solution. In the same vein, you also have the freedom to close down resources whose financial burden has grown too heavy.
Deploying services in the cloud gives you the flexibility to control your resources. At the click of a button, you can add or remove cloud resources to meet existing demand, with automation tools providing an additional layer to optimize resource consumption. This type of resource control helps you deliver cost efficiency while maintaining optimal service delivery for your end-users.
Another dimension of resource control is the flexibility of pricing models. Cloud providers offer pay-as-you-go and reserved-instance pricing models, giving you flexibility and control over how you consume and pay for cloud resources. You’ll get to decide whether to unlock discounts by paying upfront, access built-in options to upgrade to the latest technology automatically, or stick with one technology for the duration.
Testing New Technologies
Trialing a new technology on-premises isn’t practical or financially viable. With the cloud, you have the flexibility to activate a new technology service and have it up and running within hours. With cloud providers offering free trials and pay-as-you-go pricing, you can test these new technologies free of financial constraints.
Working Anywhere, Anytime
The mobility of cloud technology — which we’ve focussed on in more detail elsewhere — gives your employees the flexibility to work anytime, anywhere. It gives them the power to securely access corporate applications and data through any device, as long as they have an internet connection.
Cloud Computing: Increased Speed
Speed in cloud computing comes in many forms, unlocking a range of different advantages and opportunities. Within this section, we’ll explore the ways speed plays a role in cloud computing.
Speed of Deployment
Deploying new resources in the cloud is as simple as a few clicks of the mouse. With services available on-demand, you reduce the time it takes your team to access such resources from weeks to minutes — not to mention removing the additional workload placed on your technology team.
The net benefit is a dramatic increase in the agility of your organization. You are minimizing the time and costs typically required to conduct experiments and develop new applications.
The nearly limitless compute resource available in the cloud lets you bring to bear the benefits of superior processing speed. Complex workloads that can take hours to process on-premises are completed in minutes. Websites will load faster; video renders sooner. The applications are wide-ranging.
Superior processing speed is also precious when applied to data crunching. Using the cloud’s near-limitless compute resource to services like big data and machine learning lets you unlock deep insights from your data much faster than traditional analytics. Allowing you
Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, and Alibaba operate global networks to deliver application services locally with minimal latency.
While having services on-premises can arguably deliver the lowest latency, the cloud will always be superior once you go international. The vast networks of global cloud providers let you provide low latency access to your applications and data for employees and customers, bringing an improved and consistent UX free from the restrictions geography places on on-premises solutions.
Cloud Computing: Better Collaboration
If you’re a business of two or more team members, collaboration should be a top priority. Leveraging the combined expertise of your team increases innovation and improved workload output. The benefits of cloud-based collaboration are numerous and vital for any team to consider.
Collaborate Anytime, Anywhere
The mobility benefits of the cloud we’ve touched upon elsewhere tie in nicely with collaboration. Cloud lets you deliver accessibility to corporate documents and data anytime, anywhere, through any device with internet access.
Meaning teams can collaborate more frequently and efficiently, regardless of whether they’re working from home, the office, or even moving across time zones. It helps increase participation and promote the inclusion of remote working staff who can often feel isolated.
Cloud helps deliver consistency of data for stress-free collaboration. Changes to cloud-based files, documents, and data sync automatically in real-time, meaning your team always works on the latest version with one single source.
It prevents the creation of inconsistent duplicate documents and ensures staff isn’t waiting for their turn to access a document. All revisions are logged, so you can track who changed what and roll back to previous versions if errors occur.
Large File Access
It may seem trivial, but sending, receiving, and accessing significant files limits productivity. Add in the frustration most email service providers don’t let you send documents over 25 MB, and the benefits of cloud-based collaboration quickly emerge.
Putting documents in the cloud means there is no need to send files, freeing your team from the time delays involved in receiving documents and arranging distribution. It’s also more secure: confidential information can’t be accidentally sent to the wrong person or downloaded onto a device with security vulnerabilities.
Cloud Computing: Efficient Disaster Recovery
Whether it’s malicious intent, natural disasters, human error, software error, or hardware failure, the threat of IT disaster looms large in the mind of all businesses, including Behmaster. Loss of access to critical systems and data, even for a short period, can have a significant effect, negatively impacting revenue through productivity downtime and reputational damage.
Moving your disaster recovery to a cloud-based model brings with it significant benefits in disaster response.
Faster Recovery Times
It may not be possible to anticipate or prevent disasters, but you can implement processes to speed recovery. Data recovery and deployment are faster in the cloud, allowing you to resume productivity and normal working operations sooner, speeding your recovery for all kinds of emergency scenarios.
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More than twice the percentage of cloud users can claim disaster recovery in under four hours versus non-cloud users, according to RapidScale.
No Single Point of Failure
Deploying services and storing data on-premises creates a single point of failure. You run the risk of one disaster knocking your entire operation. The cloud brings a global network with countless failover scenarios, significantly reducing the chances of downtime.
No Limit on Location
With the cloud, the whole world becomes your recovery site. Whether power in the office is out or it has burned down, mobile accessibility of the cloud means the technology can accompany you on any device in any place, so it is always available.
Preventing Data Loss
Once you move to the cloud, your data is no longer stored on your local devices. Instead, documents and databases sit in the cloud with a string of backups and real-time updates for any changes you make. You have removed the numerous risks of data loss when storing data on local hardware — fire, theft, simple hardware failure.
Cloud Computing: Sustainability Benefits
When we talk about sustainability, we are talking about reducing your organization’s carbon footprint alongside an environmentally friendly approach to technology. With the current state of the environment, organizations are responsible for investing in solutions that bring real sustainability.
Opting for a cloud-based approach to technology allows your business to tap into the sustainability benefits of cloud computing.
100% Renewable Energy
Amazon, Google, and Microsoft all actively invest in the development of green energy. Each is committed to progressing towards a clean-energy future where 100% of their energy consumption comes from green sources.
By choosing one of these providers, you are taking a greener energy approach to technology.
By moving to a leading cloud platform, you will significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Combining green energy, higher server utilization, and other practices, cloud providers allow you to perform the same tasks with a substantially lower carbon footprint than on-premises solutions.
Studies from Amazon and Microsoft estimate a carbon footprint reduction anywhere between 88–98% for cloud versus on-premises equivalents.
Cloud Computing: Reliable Support
When working with any technology, you eventually run into issues where you lack the knowledge to troubleshoot. One of the great cloud computing benefits is the availability of support when this does occur. Enhancing this cloud benefit is the fact that the majority of support channels are free of charge. So, let’s explore in a little more depth.
You can solve an extensive range of cloud issues through freely available self-service support channels (that is, if you have the time and inclination to seek the solution yourself).
Cloud providers are renowned for their extensive repositories of technical documentation. They allow you to build, configure, deploy, manage, and troubleshoot across the full range of their available technologies at zero cost.
Below are the links to the documentation available from leading providers to help you understand the scale of these resources:
- Amazon Web Services Documentation
- Alibaba Cloud Document Center
- Google Cloud Documentation
- Microsoft Azure Documentation
In addition to documentation, each cloud platform offers a hub that supports a thriving online community. They’re home to hundreds of thousands of independent cloud experts and enthusiasts, openly sharing and pooling their combined knowledge and expertise.
When visiting this community, you are free to connect to and tap this massive free support resource, an ever-growing ecosystem of blogs, events, tutorials, and discussion forums covering every imaginable topic and technology.
You can explore these invaluable support communities below:
- Amazon Web Services Developer Community
- Alibaba Cloud Community
- Google Cloud Community
- Microsoft Azure Community Support
You won’t always have the capacity or the capability to manage and troubleshoot your cloud deployment. Eventually, you may encounter a situation in which you need the immediate hands-on support of an expert to keep your organization operational.
To cover this eventuality, each cloud provider offers a choice of basic cloud support plans, along with a range of paid premium plans. As you scale up through the premium plans, you can upgrade your level of support to include:
- Best practice checks
- Additional communication channels — telephone, email, live chat, video teleconference
- 24/7 availability
- Issue response times inside 15 minutes for business-critical outages
- Support APIs
- Training resources — both online and in-person
- Access to a Technical Account Manager
You also have the added benefit of customizing your support plans, giving you the flexibility to tailor the support to meet your individual needs — vital when considering that official support plans can range from anywhere between $30/month and $15,000/month.
You can check out the links below to explore the support plans available from leading cloud providers:
- Amazon Web Services Support Plans
- Alibaba Cloud Support Plans
- Google Cloud Support Plans
- Microsoft Azure Support Plans
Cloud Computing: Easier Compliance
When it comes to technology, compliance is a rising tide of regulations and requirements applied by governments and industries.
Whether you operate in a highly regulated industry, a specific geographic location, or both, technology compliance is a daunting challenge that can overwhelm quickly, regardless of your desire to conform.
Cloud offers on-demand technology solutions that already meet some of the most demanding compliance requirements. These include CSA STAR, GDPR, HIPPA, PCI-DSS, and a range of ISO standards. Moving to a cloud deployment nullifies the time, expertise, and financial resources required to adhere to compliance standards that you might otherwise be unable to meet.
Each platform provider offers comprehensive compliance programs for its cloud solutions. They all compete to deliver compliance across more certifications, laws, industry-specific regulations, security, and privacy frameworks than their competitors.
Check out the links below to explore the compliance programs offered by leading cloud providers:
- AWS Compliance
- Alibaba Cloud Compliance
- Google Cloud Compliance
- Microsoft Azure Compliance
Cloud Computing: Competitive Edge
Moving to the cloud can give you the competitive edge required to outperform your rivals. According to a Version study, 77% of businesses believe cloud technology gives them a competitive advantage.
There is no one pathway to gaining this benefit. It is achieved in countless ways, unlocked by your creativity in using the inherent attributes of the cloud to your advantage. Below are just a few examples of how the cloud can give you a competitive edge:
- Freeing your team to focus on innovation — Moving to the cloud moves the responsibility of managing the underlying infrastructure to your provider. Your IT team is then free to focus on innovation projects to advance your business prospects.
- Always using the latest technology — The flexible on-demand nature of the cloud means you can adopt cutting-edge technology as it comes to market. Free from deployment lag or financial requirements incurred in an on-premises setup.
- Becoming a more agile business — Cloud technology enables you to launch in a new region, experiment with new technology, and add or remove services at pace and with ease. This agility allows you to keep pace with changes in the marketplace and take advantage of new opportunities as they emerge, ahead of competitors.
- Leveling the playing field — The economies of scale available through the cloud make advanced technologies far more accessible; deep pockets are no longer a requirement to unlock the advantages of said technologies. Smaller organizations now have an opportunity to gain an edge on the big stage.
Cloud Computing: Actionable Insights
The digital age has transformed the adage of “knowledge is power” to “data is money.”
Today, we generate more digital data than ever before, with current estimates suggesting 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data are created every day in 2021. Hidden within your data is invaluable and actionable information that’s just waiting to be identified and acted upon.
Through cloud technology, you can gain greater insight into the data surrounding your customer transactions, business processes, and technology utilization, helping you to turn your data into money.
The affordability and flexibility of cloud computing give you access to services like machine learning, AI, and big data analytics. These services can allow you to analyze and gain insight from data in new ways, thereby creating value from previously inaccessible data, particularly in unstructured data.
Many cloud-based solutions also come with built-in analytics, giving you an integrated view of your data across your deployment. Whether it’s user behavior, resource consumption, or any other type of data, you can easily create tracking mechanisms and customized reports to analyze information company-wide. Through these insights, you can increase efficiencies, improve security, automate resource management, and make any action plans to achieve company goals.
If you’ve made it this far, you can tell by now that the cloud computing benefits are undeniable and far-reaching. By making a move to the cloud, you can bring real-world improvements to almost every area of your business.
We’ve outlined the underlying features, functionality, and mechanisms that combine to make that benefit a reality, and we’ve discussed how some of these benefits are inherent, while others require your active input to be recognized. Hopefully, you now have a solid understanding of the core benefits of cloud that go beyond the big picture.
Through this newfound understanding, you now have a much better opportunity to realize the benefits of cloud computing for your organization.