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3 unexpected benefits of the cloud

The mystery that surrounds cloud solutions used to be seen as a negative thing. In the past fears such as spiralling costs, data control and vendor lock-in have been enough to put organisations off cloud models completely. Thankfully, cloud maturity has grown and it’s now widely accepted that cloud is the way forward.

So when we asked more than 550 IT decision makers across Europe what they saw as the main benefits of the cloud, in comparison to other forms of IT production, our findings came as no surprise. They highlighted innovation capabilities, data movement, flexibility and quality as the key differentiators. These results were great, but we wanted to do more than cement what we already knew.

1. Information classification

That’s why we asked our participants about something that IT professionals struggle to get excited about. Data classification.

We found that most organisations classify their data, but only 65% do this routinely. That’s more than half which isn’t too bad, right? Well this means that around a third of the organisations we asked are vulnerable to high risks because they didn’t know what they had, and therefore didn’t know what they needed to protect.

If an IT department knows what data it needs to protect, it’s much easier to make the right investments and to calculate more accurate ROIs. In the world of security deciphering ROIs is known to be notoriously difficult so there you go, our first unexpected cloud benefit. Why? Because cloud services force organisations to perform some level of information classification.

Our research uncovered that organisations that are using cloud services are almost twice as likely to routinely classify business data and information. This to us demonstrates that cloud services are an obvious catalyst to improve how we handle and secure business information.

2. Business trusts IT

Every type of transaction and information flow will become more vulnerable if processes aren’t up to par. Everyone knows this, and that’s why we’re always pushing ourselves to improve the resiliency of our systems. And because we’re obsessed with measurements and want to prove that we’re doing our jobs well, we’re continually looking at our continuity numbers.

It’s common to think that when downtime happens within an IT environment we should use the concept of ‘hours’ to get things up and running again. Despite this, we found that attitudes were more lenient than you may think.

22% of IT departments would accept resolutions within ‘days’, and 15% of business functions would also accept this timeframe.

Even better, business personnel actually trust that we can do our jobs. When we asked if IT were confident that they could stick to an SLA of ‘hours’, only 42% believed they could. In contrast, 63% of business personnel had the confidence that IT can get things up and running in this time. Do we see that strained relationship between business and IT getting better?

So where does cloud fit into all this? It can guarantee near perfect data availability and can be used as a backup or disaster recovery environment in the event that things go wrong. It might not seem like a conventional cloud benefit, but we can see that business and IT are beginning to align thanks to the cloud’s resiliency.

3. GDPR compliance

Because the GDPR has introduced an abundance of changes, it’s easy to assume that most organisations are using services where data is stored and processed in the EU. However, we found that only 30% of the organisations we asked had to have their data stored and processed with the borders of the European Union.

Data location always comes up in discussions about security and cloud solutions. People think it’s harder to manage data that isn’t sat firmly in your on-premises data centre. They also think that cloud platforms make creating, documenting and testing a crisis process a whole lot more difficult.

When we’re honest with ourselves, we rarely complete tests all the way from management (in the business) to actual data restores. We only ever really do this on a very small scale as separate events. This is where large-scale cloud providers can be particularly useful. They have well-founded processes that we can adopt to ensure GDPR compliance and high security standards.

Have no fear, cloud is here

When you look at our three unexpected benefits, it’s funny to think that these are all factors that we’ve likely seen as challenges in the past. And they weren’t just challenges when assessing cloud solutions, but jobs that we either saw as an annoyance or far too complex to even start figuring out.

As our cloud maturity develops and technologies evolve, traditional cloud perceptions are being flipped on their head. When we looked at little deeper we got what we wanted from our research. We got a view that looked beyond the norm and revealed the real ways in which cloud is benefiting organisations across the continent.