By Michael Fullwood
Nearly every corporation has deployed cloud and as-a-service technology to some extent as part of its digital strategy, although not all of them have adopted it as part of an enterprise strategy. We have seen continued maturation of cloud offerings, and today several of these offerings are as secure, or more secure, than on-premises applications. As a result, we are beginning to see those cloud apps moving out of their siloes, with deeper integration between cloud and on-premises apps and data.
Companies move to the cloud for a variety of reasons beyond the cost factor, including a quicker time-to-value, reduced implementation time, and the advantage of less time spent on day-to-day operational and administrative chores, such as maintenance and upgrades.
Cloud myths and objections
Survey results indicate that some of the most common objections to cloud migrations, from the CFO’s point of view, include the need for compliance, accountability, and auditability of records, as well as security of the cloud environment, data privacy, and data rights. These objections and challenges need not forestall a cloud migration, and, in fact, many of these common objections are based on outdated information and myth.
Some of those myths include:
- The cloud is not secure. Do the research and “right fit” your cloud solution. In reality, the cloud does not set aside security obligations, particularly in terms of business process governance. Cloud data centers, MSPs, as-a-service providers, and other cloud services do tend to adhere to a higher standard and are able to dedicate more resources to security than many on-premises operations.
- You lose control by moving to the cloud. While day-to-day maintenance is typically moved to the cloud provider’s purview, this does not indicate loss of control—in fact, it allows the CFO to regain control over more important matters, while leaving less important but more time-consuming procedural details to the provider.
- There may be performance problems. This is a very outdated belief that dates back to the earliest implementations, which suffered from latency issues and delays—but today’s cloud implementations, delivered from high-performance data centers over the highest-speed connections, are speedy and reliable. Check your cloud provider’s upstream carriers and SLAs to ensure high performance and reliability.
- The cloud is too isolated from other data and applications. Cloud computing is natural to integrate with the rest of the enterprise, and some custom integration may be in order—although SaaS integration tools have already proven to be useful in this regard.
What CFOs need to know about the cloud
CFOs adopting the cloud have been able to improve the efficiency of their finance teams and streamline critical finance processes, all while positively impacting critical areas of business concern. Addressing operational gaps or process weakness with cloud solutions, especially when on-premises either is absent or not used appropriately, usually delivers the best ROI. Compared with many on-premises financial apps, many available cloud apps are already superior in terms of features and functionality.
From an apps perspective, cloud-based apps are highly secure. Of course, CFOs should not take that as a given, and as is always the case from a risk management perspective, it is better to enter a cloud strategy with a bit of paranoia and undertake normal due diligence. Cloud app companies that own the entire stack all the way down to the data center level are going to be more secure than a cloud company that relies on third parties for the infrastructure portion of that stack.
With that said, if the up-front work and due diligence has been done, there is a high probability of receiving all of the benefits promised by the cloud systems vendors, and the resulting system will often be better than an on-premises alternative. Key benefits most likely to be seen immediately are speed of deployment, ease of access, and scalability, which are often elusive in an on-premises alternative.
Michael Fullwood is a director at Information Services Group (ISG) and a recognized thought leader in global business services, business process digital strategy, and strategic contracting for business process services and BPaaS.