By: ENX Magazine on August 29th, 2018
Looking Skyward for Answers: A Cloud-y Future for Some, Not All
To the cloud or not to the cloud; that is the question.
With all due respect to Hamlet, the answer is anything but simple. Nor is the journey's end permanent. As we wrap up our August look at everything-as-a-service (XaaS) and the journey to the cloud, we take a look at some of the variables that impact cloud adoption, along with some insight from dealers who provide hosting services.
The size of the client can have a direct impact on its proclivity to embrace cloud-hosting services, notes Greg VanDeWalker, senior vice president of IT Channel and Services for Collabrance and GreatAmerica Financial Services. Looking at adoption from an end-user perspective, VanDeWalker is surprised at the volume of enterprise-level businesses that have adopted cloud services. It is the smallest of entities, especially micro-businesses, where cloud adoption seems to make the most sense.
"If you're a three-person accounting firm, you can run your business on a pure cloud solution and be fine," VanDeWalker said. "It's not that complicated of a business and they're all probably working remotely, so you've got your own logins. At that level, it makes a lot of sense and it's probably cheaper than buying an on-premise solution."
Where the question becomes open-ended is at the SMB range, the sweet spot of 10-100 employees that speaks to the heart of the dealer client pool. Again, VanDeWalker stresses the need to have customer-driven discussions on the value of opting for cloud-hosted or on-premise solutions for hardware and software.
"The SMB space is where I think the jury is out on what's going to be the best long-term solution," he said. "We've had customers who went to the cloud and ultimately asked to be taken back on-premise. It happens sometimes because it's not all roses going to the cloud."
Functionality (latency issues) can be the driving reason behind a client's desire to return on-prem. While it can be a factor of poor internet service as opposed to a fundamental flaw with the cloud provider, latency-related frustration can play a role in the ultimate decision.
Big Apple dealer Atlantic, Tomorrow's Office, has several flavors of cloud services. It partners with Microsoft to offer the Office 365 suite of service and it has a branded property (Atlantic Cloud) that caters to its larger business segment. The dealer partnered with Datto for its backup/disaster recovery (BDR) offering, and the offsite backup goes to the Datto cloud.
Atlantic, Tomorrow's Office also partners with a co-location facility which is a SOC2, Tier 4 facility in which it has built out an infrastructure where customers will rent seats within the infrastructure for their environment. Instead of clients needing to buy or build out their own environment, the dealer built an enterprise environment and has tenants on its infrastructure. For environments that require more robust solutions, clients can also rent physical space for their hardware.
"Whether it's being on our private cloud or we create a private cloud within that space for the customer, we're still the ones who monitor and manage it as part of our managed services," noted Bill McLaughlin, executive vice president and chief technology officer.
Marco of St. Cloud, MN, invested in its own data centers to provide a branded cloud solution, which dates back to 2014. Clients can opt to be managed through Marco's public cloud or have an on-premise private cloud for those who prefer to keep data under their own roof. A third option is a hybrid cloud, which enables clients to customize their solution based on specific needs.
Ubiquitous though cloud services have become, the truth be known, not all are created equal, says Trevor Akervik, senior director of managed services for Marco. "That is why the cloud became a really big thing, then sort of tapered off because organizations didn't factor in connectivity as a big part of their decision," he said. "I can have the greatest data center in the world and the fanciest computing platform, but if you can't communicate from where you are to that stuff, it's a flawed decision."