Cloud computing has revolutionized the field of tech in recent years. Pretty much all companies, no matter their size or scope, use cloud-based resources to their advantage. Organizations increasingly rely on artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics and automation to remain relevant; and the cloud makes these services available more quickly than ever before.
In addition to speed, the cloud offers the ability to provide myriad services at scale using technologies ranging from traditional virtual machines to serverless computing. As businesses require more flexibility, they also use the cloud to process large volumes of complex traffic. The benefits that cloud computing offers businesses are simply too great to ignore.
Cloud computing certifications are more in-demand than ever for good reason — they ensure workers can both leverage and fulfill the promises that are found in the cloud.
The Cloud: Today’s Infrastructure Revolution
Before the cloud revolution, businesses worldwide had to deal with a wide array of issues stemming from designing and running their own IT infrastructure. What used to be a time-consuming and costly undertaking was made even more expensive by having to keep IT support and security staff on the premises.
However, cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud were able to take some of those issues out of the equation. Nowadays, international companies can focus on running, optimizing and scaling their operations by using third-party cloud platforms.
How Cloud Computing Impacts International Businesses
The cloud has changed the playing field for companies throughout the world. Let’s take a look at five essential ways the cloud has revolutionized the way global organizations operate. Pay special attention to how cloud computing has revolutionized how IT professionals support today’s businesses.
1. Rapid Scaling Capabilities
International businesses are increasingly dynamic and need to adapt to changing circumstances more often than ever before. Without the cloud, organizations worldwide never would have been able to adjust to the global personnel and supply chain challenges we’ve experienced over the past couple of years.
A company that meets market demands and “blows up” seemingly overnight will need to substantially expand its IT infrastructure and efforts in a short amount of time. On the other hand, a company that is going through a tough period might need to scale down a bit in order to cut costs — and this can result in laying off staff and smaller budgets for IT infrastructure maintenance. With cloud solutions, however, both of these scenarios are actually quite easy to handle.
Cloud computing providers allow you to quickly scale your operations up or down. No matter your circumstances, cloud platforms will help you optimize your company’s resources and expenses in every situation. The catch? You will need to train technologists to understand how to optimize your resources and map them to current business needs.
2. Cost-Efficiency and Savings
Before cloud technology was widely available, companies had to spend a lot of money on creating their own physical IT infrastructure. This infrastructure often couldn’t adapt quickly. It also became obsolete quite quickly. What’s more, organizations had to employ entire teams of experts to run, monitor and optimize this infrastructure.
This situation wasn’t sustainable. Businesses often found themselves focused on thorny technology issues, rather than the activity of mapping ready-made technology to their mission-critical business concerns. The result was that businesses incurred a serious opportunity cost, because they could not focus resources in the right direction.
Using cloud platforms allows businesses to remain on-task, and use technology more wisely. Organizations will still need to employ specialized technologists to use the cloud. But workers of all capabilities will be able to work far more efficiently with cloud resources. In other words, more employees – even those who consider themselves “not technical” – will be able to use cloud technologies to create sophisticated solutions. As a result, technology will be truly integrated within an organization to create more useful business solutions. Some call this trend the “democratization of technology.”
3. The Opportunity for Improved Teamwork and Communication
Effective communication and teamwork are fundamental to the success of any international business. The cloud has become the primary platform for increased collaboration and the ability to leverage talent more efficiently. Over the last decade, collaboration between overseas teams, remote work and local third-party contractors using software as a service (SaaS) tools like Office 365, Salesforce and Google Apps has become the norm.
Effective communication will be even more important as organizations face new challenges moving forward. These challenges will include interpersonal and intercultural communication issues, as well as coordinating the use of cloud applications accessed from various parts of the globe.
4. Enhanced Security – If Managed Correctly
Like any powerful set of technologies, the cloud can provide enhanced security, if it is managed correctly. In years past, organizations in all industry sectors worried about perceived cloud security issues. One worry was that the platform provider could somehow access the data of its clients. Most governments and businesses worldwide are now convinced that this is not an issue, and trust the cloud with even the most sensitive data.
Another perceived weakness was the perception that the cloud provider was fully responsible for all security. It is true that cloud platforms give businesses the freedom to choose their own security settings, restrictions and policies. Cloud platforms make it possible to use multi-factor authentication (including 2FA), state-of-the-art encryption and advanced procedures. They can also provide the ability to automatically update certain elements of the necessary infrastructure to support a business.
But it’s important to understand that using the cloud implies a shared responsibility model: The cloud provider is responsible for making sure that the platforms that support an organization’s applications are secure. And organizations that use cloud-provided platforms shoulder the responsibility of making sure that the code they create and use is secure. Organizations are also responsible for making sure they configure cloud applications and services correctly.
Consider the following analogy: If you lease an apartment, it is the responsibility of the apartment complex to provide a dwelling that conforms to fire safety codes. For example, the dwelling should have working fire detection equipment and should have safe appliances like a stove, microwave, etc. But the apartment complex is not responsible if the person living in the apartment misuses those appliances and starts a fire. This is why the world needs more qualified workers that understand where responsibilities start and stop when it comes to uptime considerations, business continuity and disaster recovery.
5. Disaster Recovery and Data Loss Prevention (DLP) – More Possibilities?
Data loss can be devastating — and potentially fatal — to a business. One of the biggest issues with traditional installed IT solutions is that they are more likely to malfunction and fail catastrophically. If such a thing occurs, it might be hard to recover your data. Depending on the backup and recovery protocols implemented, you might not be able to save your data at all. Thankfully, cloud computing makes it possible to take care of that issue as well.
When using a cloud platform, your data is stored away from your premises on third-party servers. Cloud platforms can ensure that all your information is safe in the event of downtime or other issues. They can also implement advanced backup and security protocols so that no data is lost — even if the servers shut down unexpectedly.
Yet, businesses still need to enable these services, and also weigh the costs associated with using them. With the cloud, almost any service is available. But that availability often incurs costs that need to be carefully considered.
Fulfilling the Promise of the Cloud
Organizations worldwide will continue to invest in technologies that allow them to thrive. The cloud makes it possible to leverage technologies and architectures that were once out-of-reach to most businesses. We live in a cloud-first, hybrid computing world, where cloud-based solutions will work together with more traditional data center and server room solutions. As long as we have leaders and workers who know how to efficiently manage cloud-based technologies, international companies will be able to adapt to current conditions and thrive.
As CompTIA’s Chief Technology Evangelist, Dr. James Stanger has worked with IT subject matter experts, hiring managers, CIOs and CISOs worldwide. He has a rich 25-year history in the IT space, working in roles such as security consultant, network engineer, Linux administrator, web and database developer and certification program designer. He has consulted with organizations including Northrop Grumman, the U.S. Department of Defense, the University of Cambridge and Amazon AWS. James is a regular contributor to technical journals, including Admin Magazine, RSA and Linux Magazine. He lives and plays near the Puget Sound in Washington in the United States.