THE EVOLUTION OF THE CLOUD HAS COME A LONG WAY.
In the 90s, there were standalone servers—each one running just an application or two—that were expensive to acquire, operate and maintain. In the early 2000s came the world of virtualization, a pre-cursor to the cloud, where the acquisition was more natural, but organizations were still bound by capacity planning and having to maintain numerous systems.
Then came the cloud. Initially, organizations relied on external cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, but they are now increasingly adopting public cloud infrastructures where organizations cede more control, but increase their flexibility and can work with a variety of providers, such as Google, Amazon or Microsoft, which operate at extreme scales.
A significant benefit for employing cloud computing is the increase in organizational efficiency and reduced total cost of ownership. When providing an on-premise application, there are capital expenses and planning to do before an organization can utilize a solution. With the cloud, organizations enjoy many benefits:
• Cloud solutions are not bound to any network and can be used from any location on a variety of devices.
• Fast deployment and service are available more quickly than on-premise solutions.
• Cloud applications can quickly scale up and down allowing organizations to use operation budgets versus making significant capital investments.
• Simpler and faster upgrade cycles ensure access to the most recent version of an application.
• Public cloud infrastructure ensures 24/7 human monitoring and fortified data centres are more secure than most corporate centres.
On-premises solutions make it nearly impossible to implement some now vital applications and processes–like Industrial IoT, vendor analysis or automated data integrity checks. However, cloud-based systems make these strategies possible with features like scalable computing, cloud storage and enhanced access to advanced systems. Ultimately, moving to the cloud can open new doors for organizations and allow them to create compelling use cases for their engineering data.
WHAT CHALLENGES DO ORGANIZATIONS FACE IN THE CLOUD?
While security does provide a benefit in the cloud, some organisations may struggle with ceding the control of security, as it becomes a shared responsibility. In many cases, organizations are already doing this by utilizing tools such as Office 365 and Google.
Organizations may also see concerns with risks and compliance, but there are potential workarounds. For example, government agencies in the United States that require FedRAMP certified data centres can use select, government-specific clouds that run in both Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
Finally, organizations often worry about change control. While it may seem like there are limited capabilities within the cloud compared to an on-premise solution, cloud products provide the flexibility to take advantage of the latest and greatest product upgrades and offering because of consistent, seamless upgrades.
Easy upgrades are a regular part of Software as a Service (SaaS) application updates, meaning that new features are delivered to the customer more rapidly. For instance, Accruent’s engineering document management solution, Meridian, provides new functionality and features to our customers once a quarter. Organizations must be prepared for any changes in their SaaS applications that may affect existing training or procedures.
Several of these challenges share a theme—conceding some control and sharing responsibilities. However, this concession comes from valuable partnerships. With our Meridian Cloud product, we partner with Rackspace as a Cloud Service Provider, and for our computing base, we partner with Microsoft Azure. Microsoft Azure provides an incredibly rich platform of services for our Meridian Cloud customers. Aside from the array of data centres that allow Accruent to solve the issue of having services in different geographies, we can:
• Speed up our development processes on building new functionality
• Increase reliability and availability of our solution
• Extract more intelligence from the data to help set product roadmap
In Meridian Cloud, there are various business processes and workflows based on industry best practices built into the system. Our experienced subject matter efforts work with customers to analyze their current business process flows to see if they could fit and work better within the templates set in Meridian.