Is moving to the cloud always the right thing?

With the majority of organisations using the three giants Amazon, Google and Microsoft, including our own government, it is quite a scary prospect that a significant amount of this data is stored outside the UK.  

Finance Directors looking at the bottom line, initially make this decision about saving costs, but what are the long-term implications of that decision? The immediate impact is a de-skilling of the workforce, as the IT skills needed to house the data on site is no longer needed. Money saved on both wages and training, but will it save money long term? The answer is an easy one, no it won’t, and the stark reality of this is starting to hit home and impact many companies who years ago didn’t see the long-term implications. That initial cost saved on staffing and training will have to be redistributed to either reskill the current workforce or find the staff with the specific cloud provider skills (all cloud provider administration and support tools are different). Cloud skills are a valued commodity in the jobs market currently, which will raise the issue of staff retention. Again, raising overall project migration costs and administration once a company has moved to a cloud provider. 

There is also a lack of awareness that the cloud doesn’t need to mean the US. Just because the giants are the biggest names out there, biggest is not always the best or the right choice. However, it has almost become a tick box for CTOs/CIOs/FDs to put on their CV that they were ones to ‘transform the company as well as save money’ and implement the changes – few being there in the future when the penny drops that the costs to rehome the data are significantly higher than thought. 

The seven Rs of cloud migration prove themselves why cloud relocations fail (rehost, relocate, replatform, refactor, repurchase, retire, and retain), as companies tend to apply a forklift approach from moving from on-premises to a cloud service provider. Appling the 7 Rs first, focuses business to consider the impact of moving IT infrastructure to cloud. Consider the recovery of data from a cloud service. It can seem to very cost effective to move data to a CSP, but when it comes to bringing the data back onsite or moving to another CSP companies are now finding the costs to are prohibitive. Not only that, the timescales for doing it take so long, most companies would fold before they get it back. 

Data repatriation is growing and will be the next biggest thing, as ownership of the data and soaring costs continue to escalate. Is there an alternative? There are UK clouds, available through many companies, and launching our own Sovereign Cloud this month, we can provide an alternative. But how many companies properly think through why they want to use cloud facilities, rather than just following the crowd and moving data over. Consider why you want to use it first and utilise it in a way that let’s you use its benefits and agility to get the most value for your business. Evaluate if all your data should be moved, or some kept in house. Companies are having ‘cloud first’ policies, without fully understanding it. 

Tread carefully as there is a storm coming around data and repatriation. As an analogy, weddings are always great fun for a day – but divorces can take a long time and be very costly. The current cloud policies are designed to trap companies, and it can take up to 3yrs for people to realise it, but by then it is often too late. Once the realisation kicks in, few will be willing to put their hands up to the embarrassment of realising the extent of the costly mistake they made.  

Why use a UK provider? Whilst generically you get the same services as the big 3, you are guaranteed that your data stays in the UK. With Claritas, you get face to face advice and support, and we will question why you are wanting the services and what is the best approach for you to take. Change your mind and want your data back – it is as easy as delivering it in a van – our laws allow this, the US laws don’t. Underpinning all of this, your data has to be replicated elsewhere as a security measure, it is an inherent part of how it all works, and with the US giants you don’t get to choose where this is. UK companies such as ours can guarantee it stays within the UK. You are also less likely to be the focus of distributed denial-of-services (DDoS) attacks like Microsoft have seen lately with wide-ranging outages of Microsoft 365 services and the Azure Cloud portal.  

The standard route to business in larger companies has always been to go to tender for new services, but this is currently not in place for cloud storage. As many companies don’t factor in business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) to support your company’s ability to remain operational after an adverse event. Take British Airways, Boots and BBC who all announced that Zellis, their payroll services provider in the UK, had been victim of a successful cyber-attack, as a result of which the personal data of their staff had been hacked. 

GDPR will play an even more significant role moving forwards, as it is becomes increasingly important to ensure that you know exactly where your data is being stored particularly financial information.  

Our recommendation? Think first, cloud second. Ensure you really know what you are getting into moving to the cloud – but most importantly ensure you know how to get your data back. 

Richard Hilton

Senior Presale Solutions Consultant - I am a motivated individual with over 37 years of experience in the IT and Telecommunications arena. Extensive managerial experience of IT departments and consultant engineering teams. A foundation of professional experience in many differing market verticals within public and private sectors.

Rise of the machines.

Ahsan Zafeer • 26th November 2022

Ahsan Zafeer covers topics related to tech and digital marketing and tweets @AhsanZafeer. Here he explains people’s fears as to why machines are taking over their jobs.