June 24, 2021
There’s almost nothing the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t impacted, and that includes cloud usage. According to a recent survey by Flexera, 90 percent of enterprise and SMB respondents said usage increased as more business functions migrated online. A fully or largely remote workforce, of course, was at or near the top of that list. But there are numerous other reasons for the shift — one that looks to be permanent and not merely a stop-gap measure for which spending rose 37 percent to $29 billion during the first quarter of 2020, according to PWC, and kept rising throughout the year despite a drop in IT spending.
Benefits of moving to the cloud
COVID or no COVID, the benefits are many — which is why so many companies, including countless SMBs, are taking the leap. According to Eric White, Mindsight’s CTO & VP of Solution Architecture, these are the primary ones to consider.
- Operational Cost: Moving the business away from Capex investment cycles in hardware and over to operating expense. Some businesses and financial leaders find it advantageous to make this purchasing model shift for accounting purposes.
- Elastic Growth: Some businesses experience seasonal spikes that place more demand on their IT infrastructure. In a traditional model, you would build and invest to handle peak demands, and those resources would be under-utilized in off-peak seasons. Cloud allows you to increase and reduce capacity on an as-needed basis.
- Agility: With traditional on-prem hardware, expansion requires planning, staffing, physical space, etc. Cloud expansion can happen on demand. For example, during COVID and the expansion of remote work strategies, clients who invested in Virtual Desktop Infrastructure on-prem had the infrastructure to support remote workers. However, they typically didn’t have the capacity to support their entire workforce. Expanding those systems required planning, hardware, staffing and more to adapt to the new demands. Cloud-based VDI systems were much more agile in their ability to handle the increased capacity needs.
- Skill Gap: IT has become more complex, and businesses of all sizes are expected (by clients and employees alike) to keep up. IT teams are challenged to find and retain team members with the skills to support the myriad of solutions. Cloud reduces the required skills that an IT team needs to address.
SMBs and Cloud Adoption
Among SMBs, the Flexera report notes, cloud spend is lower than at enterprises. Still, 38 percent of SMBs reported spending north of $1.2 million annually, a year-over-year increase of 32 percent. That’s because workloads and data are quickly moving cloud-ward. In the next 12 months, the survey found, nearly 70 percent of both will reside there. It’s worth noting, too, that among cloud providers, Microsoft Azure was in the top three for SMBs that were “experimenting with and planning to use” cloud technology for future projects. Also, Azure adoption rates among SMBs are faster than they are for AWS. Unlike enterprises, though, most SMBs are opting for the public cloud over private.
Other challenges of cloud migration
Among SMB respondents to the Flexera survey, dependency mapping emerged as the top challenge of migrating to the cloud. That is to say, “mapping all the relationships across apps, hardware and networking devices for each IT-delivered service.” They were also concerned with assessing technical feasibility and on-prem versus cloud costs. But while SMBs have an easier time “assessing the cost implications of cloud migrations,” one of their main concerns (and a concern for other intermediate-level cloud users) was “lack of resources/expertise.” (See “Skill Gap” above.) Security, managing cloud spend, governance and compliance were key factors as well. “One possible reason for this phenomenon,” Flexera’s report concludes, “is that the factors driving these challenges present moving targets. Hackers continue to increase their sophistication, necessitating constant attention to cloud security. Also, new legislation and regulations continue to emerge, particularly in industries such as financial services and healthcare, as legislators attempt to catch up with technology.”
How MSPs can help
Since most SMBs can’t afford, or prefer not to spend money on, in-house IT professionals who oversee the highly technical aspects of cloud migration and integration, managed service providers can step in to provide the necessary talent on an as-needed basis. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of advantages courtesy of Eric White.
- Planning: Not all workloads make sense in the cloud. Deciphering which workloads to move and how can be challenging for IT Teams.
- Design: Design principles for Cloud are similar to on-premise datacenters but there are differences. Skilled MSPs help clients ensure that their cloud infrastructure is implemented to achieve the goals of the business
- Sizing: IT managers and directors have long been conditioned to overprovision hardware for such things as unplanned growth, overestimated performance oversight and budgeting. In the cloud, overprovisioning is wasteful because resources can be increased elastically. Right-sizing your environment is key to getting maximum value and ROI from a cloud initiative.
- Management: Cloud Infrastructure eliminates the need for IT teams to manage the underlying hardware infrastructure (switches, SANs, Servers, etc.), but the operating systems and applications still require management. MSPs can help businesses with this need, as well as with converting a larger portion of the IT spend to operational expense.
So if you’re thinking of moving some or more of your business operations to the cloud, there’s no time like the present to shore up your future.
Mindsight, a Chicago IT services provider, is an extension of your team. Our culture is built on transparency and trust, and our team is made up of extraordinary people – the kinds of people you would hire. We have one of the largest expert-level engineering teams delivering the full spectrum of IT services and solutions, from cloud to infrastructure, collaboration to contact center. Our customers rely on our thought leadership, responsiveness, and dedication to solving their toughest technology challenges.
About the Expert
Eric White is Chief Technology Officer and VP of Consulting Services at Mindsight. With over ten years of experience in information technology and leadership, Eric excels at implementing network and data center technologies, designing high-yield solutions for the business. Holding professional certifications from Microsoft, VMware, and EMC, as well as the Cisco CCNP, Eric is an expert at solving business realities with a client-centric focus that delivers.