Building a cloud that enterprise businesses can trust
Increasingly, organisations are shifting towards both public cloud and externally-hosted private cloud approaches to achieve their digital transformation. On a foggy technological horizon, the benefits of cloud computing remain clear – flexibility, cost savings, the ability to operate with increased efficiency, innovate and focus on core business aims.
Yet despite this narrative, certain organisations are taking a rain check on cloud adoption. The public-sector statistics are particularly striking, with "less than one-third (30%) of NHS trusts and less than two-thirds (61%) of central government departments having adopted any level of public cloud in their organisation".
Can we ever completely trust the cloud?
In any relationship, trust is everything. In that spirit, it’s important to explore some of the concerns that modern enterprise and public-sector organisations have that might inhibit them from placing their faith in cloud vendors.
“It’s too disruptive and won’t meet our business model and governance.”
It may be practical for small companies to occasionally offload tasks to the cloud, but business leaders have to contend with moving higher volumes of decentralised data than ever before, spread across disparate locations and often stored on legacy hardware. Not only is the perceived initial cost and complexity daunting, but decision makers may be unwilling to trust that cloud services will align – and continue to align – with their technology, business model and scalability needs once the contracts are signed. No-one wants to be locked into something that no longer works for them.
“The cloud won’t allow us to fulfil our legal and compliance obligations.”
Similarly, enterprise organisations are facing more challenging compliance requirements, particularly regarding data security and sovereignty. The rise of regulations such as the GDPR in Europe and Cloud Act in the USA has transformed the way all organisations gather, store and manage customer data, in addition to industry-specific requirements for healthcare and financial data. For cloud computing to bring true value, organisations must be able to trust that it can help them meet these challenges.
“Is the cloud secure enough?”
Thanks in part to highly-publicised breaches and leaks, many companies are still reluctant to relinquish any sort of control over their data. In particular, companies who manage sensitive financial or healthcare data linked to public trust might be intrinsically distrustful of hosting any information off-site, and understandably so.
Indeed, cloud computing is built on the concept of delegating some control to a third party, and so trust is an overriding principle. The above concerns regarding governance, compliance and security are therefore entirely legitimate.
With this in mind, what should enterprise leaders expect if they are to entrust their data to the cloud?
Trust and transparency in a changing technological landscape
Above all, there must be transparency regarding the migration process and the exact kind of support that the vendor will provide. Managers should be reassured by the avoidance of rigid, long-term contracts and complicated billing that could make it difficult to predict monthly and yearly spend.
Likewise, organisations do not want to be locked into a narrow range of vendors or products because this would rule out a hybrid or multi-cloud approach. Providers should make a consistent effort to reduce these effects. This could include building on open source and offering software or hardware that securely connects solutions from different vendors.
When it comes to security and compliance, both the provider and the client needs to be aware of the shifting regulatory landscape. The vendor should be entrusted to safeguard data with an enterprise-level security policy and a commitment to meeting all applicable compliance and data privacy regulations. A truly enterprise-grade service will also likely include some level of customisation and bespoke solutions to assure alignment with specific technological needs and security concerns, including gaining additional certifications if necessary.
However, beyond aspirational statements, the best way to overcome feelings of distrust is through concrete examples from a trusted cloud vendor. With that in mind, we’ll consider two particularly illuminating ones:
Example #1 – leading telecoms company – smooth migration challenge
For a good example of an intelligent cloud migration, let’s look at a leading European telecoms specialist, who had a well-established infrastructure, based on in-house servers. However, much of this hardware was approaching obsolescence, which meant their data needed to be migrated, without compromising performance or security, and ideally achieving new power and cost savings.
An unexpected solution came through the acquisition of a telecoms solution for banks and traders. This product was powered by OVHcloud Hosted Private Cloud, which was retained following the acquisition. The idea of migrating to a proven cloud platform, capable of handling sensitive data, was attractive, but a proof of concept was required to bring stakeholders on-board.
Following a period of close consultation with OVHcloud, the testing process began. This involved the migration of certain servers’ data to two OVHcloud datacentres, followed by intensive resilience testing, to ensure the new infrastructure could handle the anticipated volumes of calls.
Within a few months, the migration delivered tangible cost savings, which could be passed on to end users. Further migrations were planned, with a view to fully decommissioning the legacy infrastructure and establishing a scalable cloud solution in its place, covering multiple locations round the world.
The large companies I work with understand that cloud providers like OVHcloud are able to offer more reliable, resilient and secure hosting solutions. However, from my side I also understand that migrating complex workloads to the cloud is not an all-or nothing solution and I enjoy working very closely with enterprise customers to provide services that meet their business and budgetary requirements.
Example #2 – travel technology company – customisation and compliance challenge
The true value of a strong relationship with a cloud provider is shown in another enterprise organisation, whose partnership with OVHcloud evolved from the provision of bare-metal servers to host their applications, to sophisticated R&D projects and customised solutions. The deep trust between the organisation’s stakeholders and their dedicated TAM allowed them to take a long-term view of their infrastructure’s development, ensuring it could continue to evolve in parallel with their own business goals, industry trends, and new cloud technology.
This included the design of a new server model, tailored to the needs of enterprise organisations, that would later be made available to other OVHcloud customers, and a Red Hat operating system template that was designed from the ground up, in collaboration between both companies. As the infrastructure evolved, further customisation took place on the organisation’s servers, in response to specific business needs and customer requirements.
The partnership continues to evolve, with a combination of ‘datacentre-as-a-service’ and private cloud solutions providing the flexibility to scale intelligently, while maintaining all company- and industry-specific security and compliance requirements, including ISO 27001 certification. Collaborative projects that started off in R&D have now moved into production, and their TAM continues to meet with them regularly to discuss their business requirements.
As we have hopefully demonstrated, enterprise and public-sector organisations’ concerns regarding the cloud are not without justification. But far from representing a fatal stumbling block for the cloud sector, the fact these concerns are being discussed is a sign of the technology’s newfound maturity. We are now witnessing the role of cloud vendor shifting from a simple provider of hardware and software to a trusted partner for enterprise organisations, playing an active role in their global development and working in close collaboration with their internal experts.
If cloud vendors and enterprise-level organisations are willing to continue working together to develop intelligent solutions to these challenges, we will be able to usher in the next stage of the cloud’s evolution, establishing higher standards of performance, flexibility, efficiency and security across the entire digital landscape, and making hybrid and multi-cloud approaches the norm, rather than the exception.
"ALE knows that it can rely on the responsiveness and expertise of OVHcloud technical account managers if it needs support with its infrastructure. This is largely due to the fact that, unlike other industry players, OVHcloud has full control over its value chain — from datacentre design to server delivery."