Once upon a time, organizations created an annual plan that included budgeting and forecasting. Every quarter actual numbers were compared to plan and adjustments were made if needed. Stock prices rose and fell based on how well a company met its forecasts. Then, 2020 happened.
Suddenly, annual plans were useless. Sometimes, it was difficult to plan the next hour. There were workforce disruptions, supply chain failures, and technology limitations. To adapt, businesses needed real-time data to guide decisions. Unfortunately, many organizations were not equipped to deliver information quickly. They lacked the capabilities that tools such as power BI reporting provide.
Faced with another year of unpredictability, how should organizations prioritize their technology spend? What technologies are best suited to propel them forward, but allow them to pivot if the world changes? For many companies, choosing between on-premise, cloud-only, or a hybrid infrastructure is the primary financial decision for 2022.
In the Cloud vs On-premise
In the rush to address the needs of a remote workforce, many organizations moved on-premise workloads to the cloud. Sometimes only the applications moved; others transferred data and apps to the cloud. Few performed an analysis to determine if cloud services were needed. After two years, companies should have sufficient data to re-evaluate those earlier decisions.
Media may make it sound as though every business is moving to the cloud, but only 61% migrated some or all of their workloads to the cloud in 2020. Before investing in added cloud services, organizations need to look at their data. The decision shouldn't be based on "everyone is doing it" nor should it be based on the fear that a competitive edge could be lost.
Given the unpredictability of today's economy, companies need data on how things are before spending money on how they should be. Without data, enterprises may opt to invest their limited resources in areas with diminishing returns. No decision is more critical than choosing an infrastructure.
Applications were quickly moved to the cloud to enable remote employee access. Today, companies should have data on which cloud-housed applications are being accessed. The information should answer such questions as:
- Are there applications that are rarely used? If so, learn who is using it and why. Removing unnecessary applications can reduce costs and strengthen a company's security posture.
- Are there applications that are not being used as expected? If employees aren't using applications, it may be because of shadow IT. They may be using unauthorized solutions that increase network vulnerabilities.
- Are there on-premise applications that should be moved to the cloud for better performance? Low-priority applications may still operate on-premise. If so, consider moving them to the cloud.
Having detailed information on application usage means no longer paying licensing fees for unused solutions. It means simplifying operations to make a more agile infrastructure to address the unexpected.
Companies in highly-regulated industries need to look at the cost of moving protected data to the cloud. If businesses think that security becomes the cloud provider's responsibility, think again. All public providers such as AWS, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure state that security is a shared responsibility. And, they define their responsibilities. Think Capital One.
Capital One suffered a data breach in 2019. The cause was determined to be a misconfigured firewall, which was Capital One's responsibility. Even though the hack took advantage of an AWS vulnerability, the misconfigured firewall costs Capital One billions.
Securing data is only part of cloud migration. Knowing how much data is a critical cost factor. IT departments should have sufficient data to know how much data is currently stored on-premise and in the cloud. They should also know:
- How much data is added to the system each day? This number can help determine storage capacity. Whether it's using more cloud storage or purchasing more on-premise hardware, the need for data storage will only increase.
- How much data can be archived or removed? Having access to this number means companies can plan for increased storage requirements, plus having data removal policies minimizes risks associated with data breaches
Knowing the numbers makes it easier to budget. The data can also show if an enterprise needs to scale, making it possible to negotiate added resource capabilities from the start.
Network infrastructures have become more complex with 69% of businesses operating a hybrid cloud environment. Hybrid environments can be difficult to manage. Not every organization has the resources. That's why some companies are looking at managed cloud services as an alternative to in-house support. As part of their budgeting considerations, businesses need to ask:
- Is the talent available to support a hybrid or cloud-only environment? Businesses should not expect to hire staff. Tech labor shortages have only increased since 2020 which makes finding employees difficult and expensive.
- How much does it currently cost to maintain an existing infrastructure? Companies need data on such items as labor costs, network maintenance, and hardware purchases. This information makes it possible to compare on-premise vs managed services for budgeting.
- What's the opportunity cost if employees are unavailable for other IT projects? Managed services can free existing personnel to address other tech projects such as improving websites or adding features to existing software.
Managed services provide an alternative resource for tech support. In a cloud environment, managed services can compensate for a lack of in-house talent.
Budgets are numbers, but those numbers need to come from somewhere. With organizations looking to spend limited technology dollars wisely, they need to rely on data -- data that many executives may not know is available. For example, IT departments should have data on application usage and data storage which are key factors when considering cloud migration. This information could be provided monthly via scheduled reports so staff can stay on top of changing requirements.
ChristianSteven Software delivers a Power BI Reports Scheduler (PBRS) for scheduling and distributing reports and dashboards automatically, making it easier for organizations to make data-driven budgetary decisions. You can download a 30-day trial at the PBRS product page.