Thought leadership

Getting Your Head in the Cloud?

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April 30, 2020

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to unprecedented demand for online services. Organizations across industries are increasingly seeking to adopt or expand cloud-based offerings in efforts to support virtual workforces and serve customers remotely. While the benefits of cloud infrastructure are clear, the cloud computing space is complex and can pose risks to organizations that use cloud services without planning. Organizations that take proactive steps to ensure their cloud-based offerings are robust, scalable, and secure are best positioned to protect employee/customer data and offer a positive user experience.

Cloud Infrastructure Benefits for Businesses

The benefits of cloud infrastructure for businesses have never been more compelling. Cloud infrastructure can provide organizations with enhanced reliability, organizational efficiency, and robust security — all while lowering upfront costs, reducing startup time, and optimizing ongoing expenditures against real-time metrics. The current cloud provider landscape is dominated by a handful of large companies, resulting in competing and potentially incompatible cloud ecosystems that may at first seem daunting for businesses seeking to introduce product or service offerings into the Cloud.

Fortunately, a portable cloud architecture can help organizations remain agnostic to different cloud service providers and programming paradigms, thereby reducing exposure to future costs and maximizing product development flexibility. Both sets of benefits can be extremely valuable to organizations seeking to expand their offerings to support virtual workforces or serve customers remotely. Independent of COVID-19, the use of cloud-based solutions is expected to grow over time due in part to the Internet of Things (IoT).

This proliferation of "smart devices" that utilize internet connectivity is increasingly leveraging cloud-based solutions to provide the digital services that daily life requires. As thetotal cloud market size continues to grow, more organizations will need to consider the Cloud as part of their planning for business success.

Potential Risks to Cloud Infrastructure

As the technology landscape continues to evolve rapidly, many businesses and institutions recognize the importance of underlying organizational challenges that can accompany the adoption of cloud services. This is particularly evident in light of the recent upswing in ransomware attacks and information leaks in both the public and private sectors. A late 2019 survey of 88 U.S. cloud industry influencers and 195 AWS re:Invent attendees suggests that security, governance, and compliance are the most pressing challenges associated with the public Cloud. As today's organizations seek to rapidly migrate or scale services within the Cloud, it is imperative that speed of action not compromise the security of employee and customer data.

Optimizing Robustness, Scalability, and Security

Organizations that take proactive steps to ensure their cloud-based offerings are robust, scalable, and secure are best positioned to minimize potential risks. A principal priority for organizations new to the cloud should be the effective deployment and migration of services. Organizations seeking to import services into the Cloud can leverage a variety of commercial tools and platforms to provide a cloud experience. Successful migration requires an understanding of the compatibility of different components and the optimal configuration for avoiding security or scalability risks.

Once services are effectively deployed, organizations should focus on cost-efficiently matching scale to demand, or "architecting for resilience." A resilient architecture can help ensure that service offerings can handle both gradual and sudden increases and decreases in traffic dynamically and recover from technical difficulty automatically while minimizing product downtime. Finally, organizations should optimize security at all levels to protect employee/customer data and offer the most positive user experience possible.

How Exponent Can Help

Exponent's unique multidisciplinary approach allows us to provide a variety of services in the cloud space related to security, compliance, and reliability, in conjunction with deep industrial knowledge and expertise. Our computer scientists and data privacy experts can help organizations optimize the robustness, scalability, and security of SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, and Managed Services cloud service offerings from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft (Azure), Google, and all other public cloud providers.