Paul Blore, MD at Netmetix,
cloud network specialists, discusses
the challenge of cyber security issues and the rise of Cloud computing
adoption in 2018, as well as how continued investment in emerging
technologies can help tackle the UK's productivity problem.
With an increasing number of high profile data breaches during 2017, it’s no surprise that data security has become a key topic for businesses of all sizes, and rightly so; there’s little doubt that the amount of these types of incidents will only increase further during 2018 in line with the value of data.
And, whilst no business wants to be the target of any type of attack, a common issue we see is that many businesses still see IT as a tactical overhead rather than a strategic investment that is vital to the success of their business. SMEs in particular can often feel they are too small a fish to be a target for hackers but fundamentally, if data is valuable to a business, then it’s going to be valuable to hackers. As such, we expect to see a greater emphasis from the security industry at large, on reviewed cyber security measures and the overall picture in terms of strategic business protection.
In relation to the cloud, there has been a seismic shift in opinions surrounding security. In recent years businesses have been cautious about committing to the cloud, fearing that with no physical security, data could be vulnerable to attack. However, the tables have now turned; businesses are starting to recognise that the cloud might actually be a safer place for data rather than using an on-premise server and as such, are now focused on the operational benefits of moving to the cloud. Naturally, security is still an important consideration, but businesses are becoming more confident in the fact that a cloud deployment is more secure than any on-premise system – both physically and digitally.
With 60% of workloads expected to be operated in some form of hosted cloud service by 2019, the next twelve months will see further continued growth of cloud computing amongst businesses of all sizes, as the demand for on-premise solutions continues to decrease. So far, there has been a steady uptake of businesses looking to host their complete infrastructure in the cloud, but with wider understanding and acceptance of the operational and cost benefits (amongst others) that cloud computing offers over on-premise, it is expected that more and more businesses will be confident in looking to hosted services.
Furthermore, with the government formally launching a commitment to invest in rollout of ‘full-fibre’ broadband, the increase in connectivity speeds coupled with promised widespread availability will result in cloud computing becoming more readily available and not tethered by bandwidth restrictions.
As cloud adoption continues to grow, the choice of cloud providers is greater than ever before. As such, the consideration of a multi-cloud environment is becoming increasingly commonplace. However, for many organisations that cannot justify spreading their infrastructure across multiple datacentres, we expect to see an uptake of customers hosting their infrastructure with one provider, but using a number of web-based applications from a variety of vendors that host elsewhere. For example, if a business was to host an infrastructure in Azure, it might require a cloud service for Sage, or a separate cloud service for a telephony system, both of which could be hosted elsewhere. This approach to multi-cloud is an unintended consequence rather than a planned strategy for the majority of organisations, but importantly from the user’s perspective, it is completely invisible.
The Future Workforce
UK SMEs have talented employees, but many organisations have yet to make the transition to a cloud-based infrastructure that can enhance job satisfaction and drive productivity. Employees are commonly left to work with cumbersome legacy systems that slow down processes and drive inefficiencies. Fortunately, modern technology unlocks clear opportunities to enhance job satisfaction and overcome obstacles to employee retention. Cloud computing – which gives organisations enterprise-grade IT infrastructure hosted centrally in secure data centres – provides an agile platform from which companies can deliver a range of tools to support productivity and collaboration.
It has been well publicised that the UK lags behind much of Europe in workforce productivity. Simple and cost-effective tools that can address the issue are too often overlooked. The Confederation of British Industry has recently argued that the government should be encouraging greater uptake of new technologies, such as the cloud, to help close the productivity gap between the UK and neighbouring countries. Thankfully, the government seems to be listening, announcing an investment of £500 million in the Autumn Budget to be targeted at technological initiatives from full fibre broadband to new start-ups. Some may argue that the funds committed within the budget do not go far enough to satisfy what is truly required, but with such a focus placed on the UK being at the forefront of a technological revolution, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. With continued investment in emerging technologies and services, businesses will be able to – flexibly and cost-effectively – deploy the very latest applications that automate processes, provide complex analytics and boost productivity.