Cloud-first is a cloud adoption strategy where enterprises always consider cloud-based solutions first when implementing a new IT system or replacing an existing one.
This approach aims at maximising cloud services’ benefits, namely more cost-effectiveness, faster implementation, and improved business resilience, while at the same time avoiding disruptions caused by having to replace many on-premises systems which may have been in place for years.
Cloud-first vs. Cloud-only
Cloud-first is a favoured cloud adoption approach in recent years mainly because enterprises still have reasons to maintain their on-premises IT systems. Their investments in hardware equipment and software licenses are not fully amortised yet. Senior management still has concerns about data security and governance. Legacy processes associated with legacy systems are still in place.
Nonetheless, there is no denying that cloud-first is already a dated approach. The concept was first introduced 10 years ago by the US federal government. As innovations and disruptions alike are occurring at an increasingly fast pace, enterprises can no longer cling to those legacy on-premises systems.
The cloud-only approach requires enterprises to apply cloud computing to all systems and services. Without a doubt, there’s a slew of barriers to cloud-only strategy enterprises are facing– cyber security, integration, service reliability, bandwidth availability, service management, data migration, and lack of internal expertise.
These barriers, however, seem increasingly trivial compared to the tremendous benefits brought about by cloud adoption. In a poll conducted by McAfee, 88% of senior IT staff in the UK agreed to move to the cloud had increased productivity among employees, 84% said it had improved security, 85% mentioned supplying more varied services, and 84% cited increased innovation.
The urge for cloud-only is further magnified during the COVID-19 crisis. When most companies have to send their staff working from home, cloud services are instrumental in maintaining business resilience in such disruptive moments and are now the tipping point for many who were resistant to letting go of their on-premises IT mindset.
While this crisis can be considered a Black Swan once-in-a-century event, it does highlight a need for cloud-based solutions regarding disaster recovery, data backups, and managed IT services.
Gartner predicts that the surging cloud-only strategy will drive public cloud spending to $331.2 billion in 2022. Out of this number, SaaS (software-as-a-service) spending will have the biggest share of $143.7 billion, followed by IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) spending of $76.6 billion.
And as a result of the shift to cloud-only, the demand for on-premises license-based software will continue to plummet.
On a final note, regardless of which, cloud adoption approach you opt for, rushing to a decision out of fear of missing out on the latest trends or getting left behind by competitors is also a mistake to avoid. You need to move quickly and decisively, but not recklessly. Check out our vast wealth of resources on cloud computing and cloud services to stay informed.