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Cloud 101: What Is It and How Will It Improve My Business?

Published March 24 2022
Michel Lalonde, AWS Practice Lead
Michel Lalonde
AWS Practice Lead
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Unless you’ve had your head in the clouds for the past 20 years, you’ve probably heard people referring to “the cloud.” But what is it exactly?

Despite its abstract name, the cloud refers to a tangible, practical IT solution—cloud computing. Put simply, cloud computing delivers various computing services, including servers, databases, storage, software and analytics, via the internet, a.k.a. the cloud.

At this point, you may be thinking: Great! My company is always on the look out for ways to eliminate unnecessary costs, and become more agile and productive. But how do I get there?

And you’re not alone. That’s why we sat down with Michel Lalonde, Alithya’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) Practice Lead and asked him all your burning questions about the cloud.

How does the the cloud help companies adapt to our current marketplace and prepare for the future?

Michel: So many ways! Let’s zoom out a bit and clarify our approach to “the cloud.” Think of cloud migration not as an IT strategy, but as a business strategy.

As a company, you want to focus as much of your energy and resources as possible on creating something of value for your customers. Say you’re a major financial institution. You want to be able to spend more time on differentiating your products and less time worried about data storage, services, electricity, etc.

Entrusting these concerns to cloud providers helps organizations concentrate on what actually makes their services and products distinct.

In terms of future-proofing, the pandemic has only accelerated our need for more agile solutions. The truth is that companies that are in the cloud have a competitive advantage over those that aren’t.

What does this look like in action?

AWS users, for example, report almost 19% faster time-to-market and a 62% improvement in staff productivity.

Overall, the cloud slashes costs, ups productivity, increases agility and operational resilience. All of these factors combine to make your organization more innovative, faster.

How exactly does the cloud help companies optimize their costs?

Michel: The cloud is all about doing more with less. If your company is expanding rapidly, it can be expensive and inconvenient to constantly invest in new hardware and train or hire new personnel.

With the cloud, you shift all of those IT upgrade/repair and staff costs to the vendor.

What’s more, you don’t need an in-house data center any more, which takes up valuable office space and produces a lot of heat. So, cloud solutions also help you maximize your real estate and reduce energy costs.

Many cloud computing services, like AWS, offer pay-as-you-go subscriptions, meaning you only pay for what you use.

Lastly, the pandemic has made it increasingly difficult to find qualified staff. By outsourcing and entrusting these tasks to cloud service providers, you won’t need to hire additional employees. All of these savings on labour and maintenance mean that you can reallocate funds to more pressing operational needs. As a result, your company has the resources it needs to for planned and unforeseen costs.

How can I protect my company and network against IT attacks? Is the cloud secure?

Michel: This is the beauty of the cloud’s shared responsibility model. When you migrate to the cloud, you’re effectively outsourcing a whole host of security responsibilities to experts who only focus on that.

In an on-premises environment, it’s likely that your organization’s security resources are limited. This leaves more room for attackers to target and exploit vulnerabilities at every level.

But you can think of security in the cloud as an added line of defense—and professional-grade defense at that.

When working in the cloud, you leverage cloud-based security systems which in turn enhances your organization’s ability to detect threats and respond quickly.

Once again, you shift responsibility to the provider itself, who are experts at what they do. You can then invest those security-related resources and budget to your other operational priorities.

How do I make sure my business keeps operating smoothly? What about the steep learning curve for new technologies? How will my staff adapt?

Michel: Picture the cloud offering like a buffet. You can choose to fill up your plate, but you can also start small and sample the different options.

Your company can proceed bit by bit to migrate certain services to the cloud to ensure a seamless transition.

In terms of the demands on your employees, it will depend. Some people may embrace the shift from the get-go and understand immediately how cloud technology will make their lives easier. For others, it might be a dramatic change that overhauls their way of working. That’s why receiving custom and comprehensive support is so crucial.

It’s important to keep in mind that being in the cloud will also help companies attract talent. And not just any talent, but those who are motivated, curious and driven by a desire to learn and adapt to new processes. These employees will create value for your customers and help your company stand out from the competition.

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While migrating to the cloud may seem daunting at first, it doesn’t have to be! Relying on the right team with the right expertise to guide you through the transition is essential. Alithya is home to professionals like Michel who work with our clients to define their goals and develop a migration strategy that is tailored to their business’s needs and delivers long-lasting value. For any questions on how the cloud can make your business more flexible and efficient, get in touch with our specialists.