It might seem laughable these days to think some people are still afraid of moving to the cloud. But the pandemic has brought to light that there are, in fact, companies that still have their doubts about this disruptive technology. It could be a culture thing – some cultures have a particularly high internal locus of control which means they prefer to be completely accountable for their own results.
In contrast, however, the very similar concept of outsourcing is now almost universally accepted as a way to reduce risks and generally to create a lean organization. I guess it’s a matter of what you consider as essential to your business and, therefore, kept in-house. I.T infrastructure, it seems, is one of those things a lot of software companies still consider essential.
The new nature of software
Is infrastructure really essential these days though? In the present day, we’re finding fewer and fewer dependencies between our software and the hardware it runs on. Likewise, the vast interconnectivity between different software services has now made it counterintuitive to build software specific to a particular piece of hardware. Even when you need to, however, you now have the option to connect to other software providers who already have that hardware.
What this basically means is, today’s software ecosystem now allows developers to focus more on the business and product domain and less on the nitty-gritty technical details.
Software as a service and cloud computing go together perfectly, each complementing the other. The cloud makes it easy to provide a continuously evolving, interconnected service to your customers. Likewise, the wide array of options for affordable software as a service products online makes it much more sensible to use these tools (and their infrastructure, of course) instead of setting up your own.
One of the biggest things that gets people worried about moving to the cloud is – how do you ensure the security of your data and reliability of the system? While that does sound like a risk you need to mitigate, cloud computing itself could be the mitigation.
After all, if you have to go through the process of qualifying and hiring someone who has the credentials and then decide on the ideal software and hardware to create security and reliability, doesn’t it make better sense to delegate things to an organization whose primary business it is to understand, build, and utilize these resources?
Yes, it can feel uncomfortable to know it’s not directly in your control. But unless you’re actually hands on with your infrastructure and don’t delegate, you’re not in direct control anyway and you should be more comfortable with having the experts handle it. After all, if high traffic, global companies like Netflix trust them, you probably can, too.
The pandemic has shown us just how much cloud computing has become an essential risk reduction measure, all but replacing the “I.T. business continuity plan” of old. Not every company has had the foresight nor the resources to prepare to work from home before all this happened. Those who operate mainly in the cloud, on the other hand, have had it much easier.
There are valid downsides to moving to the cloud, of course. The primary one is economics – though even that can often be an argument for the move. While paying as you go (as you do with cloud providers) often is the more financially-sound choice, other factors – such as already having the hardware and resources to maintain your own servers – can come into play and deter you from making the shift.
Another one would be being locked in with a particular provider. As the cloud computing business is still relatively young, cross compatibility between different providers isn’t something that’s a priority at the moment. That means once you’ve start setting up your infrastructure, you’re likely locked in (at least for a while) to that particular provider.
That’s not to say these downsides will always be a problem. At the pace the cloud business is growing these days, I think these issues will soon become a thing of the past. Then it will only continue to make less and less sense to keep your infrastructure in-house.
Moving to the cloud is a quintessential modern-day risk reduction strategy that has changed the way we build software. I talk about risk reduction more in my upcoming eBook “Risk Management Crash Course“, which is coming out in August. Subscribe to my mailing list to be one of the first to get it for FREE!