If there's one constant your business can rely on these days, it's change. Your IT needs next year — or even next month — are unlikely to be the same as they are right now. Your business may be growing (or contracting) and you may be moving into new territories (or pulling out of them). Or someone — you or a competitor — may be turning your sector on its head with innovative processes and products enabled by digital technologies.
In today's business climate, a modern IT infrastructure is the foundation for a successful organisation. It will let you:
- Innovate, by allowing you to more quickly develop secure, scalable apps to support new products and services or transformed business processes.
- Collaborate more effectively, both internally and with external partners, by providing secure web-based and mobile access to shared data and apps, from any place, at any time.
Cloud computing is regarded by most as the way of the future, but just how can it help? Here are four steps you can take that will let you modernise and future-proof your IT with cloud infrastructure:
1. Migrate existing applications to the cloud.
A typical IT department that runs IT in house or uses traditional hosting will spend 70% of its resources on managing current applications and infrastructure. Moving your applications to cloud infrastructure will dramatically cut the time you spend on routine operations because the cloud provider handles tasks like patches and upgrades. That lets your team focus their time on supporting changing business needs.
With Google Cloud Platform (GCP), you'll also be able to grow your business and cope with peaks in demand without worrying about scalability. GCP's built-in load balancer and autoscaler work seamlessly together to handle extreme spikes in traffic. The result is that your systems can automatically scale from no traffic to millions of requests per second, in seconds.
You don’t have to worry about the cost of this kind of flexibility, or about continuing to get the best price-performance as your needs change, either. With GCP, you pay only for what you use, when you use it, thanks to per-second pricing. GCP also lets you configure the machines you use to create exactly the right combination of memory, CPU and local storage for your workloads. You’re not stuck with having to pay for more than you need in some areas to guarantee the performance of just one feature. Finally, Google offers sustained-use discounts that won't lock you into paying for obsolete hardware.
By migrating its e-commerce site to Google Cloud Platform (GCP), cosmetics company Lush was able to handle the surge in demand during its Boxing Day sale that had crashed its systems in the previous two years. At the same time, the company was able to cut its hosting costs by 40%.
2. Migrate existing data to the cloud.
Moving your data to the cloud makes it easier for your employees to securely access data when and where they need it — while benefiting from robust backup and business continuity. With Google Cloud infrastructure, you’re protected by the same end-to-end security that keeps customers safe on Google's own applications. That means that at every level of your cloud infrastructure, you’ll enjoy the latest security measures, maintained by a team of more than 500 experts in information, network and application security.
With your data in the cloud, you can also start getting more value out of it, without making a big upfront investment of time or capital, using cloud-based data analytics tools. By moving its data to Google BigQuery, grocery delivery company Ocado was able to process queries up to 80 times faster compared to its in-house solution and, in the words of Dan Nelson, Ocado's head of data, answer "seemingly impossible questions".
3. Move to container-based apps.
Software containers are based on the same idea as shipping containers, which make it easy to package goods and move them around in a standard way that fits on any truck, train or ship. Software containers let you create a package with your application code and everything you need to run it, including the operating system. You can then "ship" that container to any laptop, server or cloud provider that can handle that kind of container. This makes it easier and faster to create, update and deploy your code, and you can run more applications with fewer resources than with traditional virtual machines. Containerisation is just one of several ways GCP enables agile software development and quick and easy deployment.
Using Google Container Engine (GKE), Niantic—the company behind games such as Pokemon GO, with millions of users—cut its infrastructure costs to one fifth of the gaming industry average, while being able to rapidly scale new games.
4. Integrate existing on-prem infrastructure with the cloud.
Your cloud strategy doesn't have to be all or nothing. You can add new capabilities — such as mobile apps for customers or data analytics — using cloud solutions that draw on functions and data held in your on-premise infrastructure. You can also move just one or two existing applications to the cloud or use the cloud for new developments. GCP offers a host of connectors, APIs and other tools that make it easy to create and manage this kind of mixed environment.
Check out our webinar, for an introduction to the Google Cloud Platform:
As a Google Cloud Premier Partner, we spend our time helping organisations like yours deliver game-changing transformations to the way they work using cloud technologies. If you'd like to find out more about how you can use GCP to modernise and future-proof your IT infrastructure, get in touch with our GCP experts.
Updated April 2019
First published in November 2017