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Welcome to The Cloud – A Guide for Non-Tech Executives


Greg Rogers



When you hear the word Cloud, what comes to mind? The words AWS or Azure? Or do you chuckle thinking of NBC Weatherman Al Roker’s famous saying, “That’s what’s going on around the country, here’s what’s happening in your neck of the woods”?

For many business leaders and executives, the contrast between these two extremes is far more than hyperbole. In turning the page to “digital transformation”, some non-technology leaders are stuck in a balancing act. How can these executives contribute to the CEO’s “Cloud-first strategy” while balancing their regular and primary responsibilities?

What is the Cloud (really), and why should I care?

By now, we all have experience using “the Cloud” – whether using it to store your own personal pictures, documents, family pictures and artifacts or to check email, communicate with friends through social media or text. But if even if you haven’t, that’s okay. The Cloud is for you, and it can change your life.

In your professional life, Cloud services like AWS and Azure can provide availability for your organization’s similar “artifacts”. Unlike traditional data management options, the Cloud provides the flexibility to run “full throttle” and decrease storage based on compute and data demands.

Let’s start with a brief history lesson. Before the Cloud, things we now take for granted, like the ability to collaborate effectively while being remote, were challenging. Computers were confined to bulky rectangles of colorful chips, hard drives, and massive data centers. These clunky computers required you to be connected in order to collaborate with coworkers. Workers were literally tethered to their desks. The Cloud changed that by enabling what is called virtual services..

Since computers can connect virtually, a Cloud infrastructure supports all the computing, processing, and memory functions in a different location than our physical computers. The same processing of information still occurs “in the Cloud”, but what is different is where and how we access it. The data, computing, and memory components are no longer tied to your physical machine. Instead, it happens in the massive data centers around the globe. This helps increase the power of the organization and the speed at which work can be delivered, eclipsing the limitations of a single laptop of your personal computer.

How will the Cloud improve my business and customers?

To understand how the Cloud can improve a business, we must first examine what the organization needs to succeed: customers, a product or services, and the people who make connecting the two possible, either directly or indirectly. For example, customers expect the delivery of goods and services in a timely manner.

Imagine the example discussed above of the limits of your personal computer, expanded by an infinitely bigger computer that is the Cloud. If an organization’s ability to meet customers’ needs depends on its ability to quickly and accurately process information, then the Cloud is an obvious choice. If an organization does not move to the Cloud, and instead relies on its own physical infrastructure alone, sometimes referred to as “on-premise”, their “computer’ is limited to what they have in a single point of time.

We all know that consumer demand in most businesses is unpredictable. Therefore, how can an organization reasonably predict when they will increase or decrease their physical infrastructure to support the influx or decrease in demand? This is where the Cloud offers flexibility and space to accommodate fluctuating demands without requiring the customer to buy more storage, memory, servers, or any of their other important digital components required for the transaction. How? Because the Cloud allows for organizations to easily scale up or down instantly, without buying additional computers, waiting for them to arrive, and then getting back to fulfill the customer’s needs.

What analytics and monitoring strategies would limit total costs of the Cloud?

If you were to google Cloud costs and analytics monitoring, you may find your way into a rabbit hole of advertisements trying to get you to buy the Cloud. And that the Cloud is perfect, why wouldn’t you want it for your org, everybody’s doing it, etc, etc, etc, …. So what’s the catch? Even though the Cloud can be perceived as being significantly cheaper than the alternative, Cloud-related costs can still vastly exceed their on-premise counterparts.

To demonstrate, imagine you have a screaming child whose only acceptable distraction is your iPhone. Also, imagine being in a situation where you need the child to be distracted, so you hand your child your phone, and you observe them calm down once they can download and play their favorite game, “Down On the Farm”. You move on but several weeks later, you receive notice that you owe Apple $16,000. You begin to realize, several virtual pigs, horses, and extra lives later, your now calm and happy child has you on the hook for a very large bill!

Similarly, Cloud costs can spiral out of control if they’re left without limits and strategies to control and monitor costs. The term associated with monitoring, evaluating, and controlling costs is known as Cloud cost optimization.

Here are a few tips for how you, as a non-technology user, can apply your business skills to make the most of your organization’s Cloud spend:

  1.  Review utilization rates against budgets to discover where waste is in your environment.
  2. Leverage your Cloud provider’s billing reports and data regularly and often and ask for your trusted advisors’ help to optimize your costs. Export and review the report frequently with technology and business teams.
  3. What contributes to the influx/outflux of charges? What types of workloads and what types are costing the most? Are there spikes in activity or demand for computational resources? How available do you need your data to be? Are there instances where immediate access is not needed? The higher the availability, the higher the costs.
  4.  Keep your Cloud provider close. Remember to use their tools to make the Cloud work for you! Azure Advisor or AWS Trusted Advisor, for example, helps you get the information you need to know how and where to save costs.
  5. Utilize training budgets. Sometimes the easiest fixes come through educating yourself and your team. Invest in their success, and build culture of transparency.
  6. Think of how professionals can guide you! Zencos can handle your end-to-end hosting and configuration through our partnership with SAS and supporting Cloud providers. Pay a monthly fee, and leave the work to us!
  7. Eliminate the need to guess. On-premise data predictions are difficult. Cloud allows for a model where you only pay for what you use.
  8. Think Differently. Remember the importance of embracing change through the 100 year flood. Or 500-Year, as is the case this week.

If you’re seeking more help to establish, create, implement, or execute your Cloud adoption strategy, reach out to the professionals. At Zencos, we’re here to help equip you for the new challenges ahead in your digital future. If not us, we recommend turning to your trusted advisor in the process to ensure you’ll stay on track!

Good luck!