Nearly every company in the world has heard about cloud computing and, for most, either they have already started using the cloud or are planning to use the cloud in the near future. Amazon Web Services (AWS) was the first major provider of cloud solutions and has had a long running in providing utility-based services to organizations and individuals across a large spectrum of resources requirements. However, adopting well-defined services such as AWS cloud can still be challenging, particularly with regards to maintenance, expertise and security.
Maintaining AWS Cloud Support
The primary intent of cloud services for most companies is to outsource responsibilities to a third-party in order to free up resources to manage critical processes and innovate. In this regard, IT departments are not needed to maintain the infrastructure or develop and deploy software packages because their cloud provider will do so. However, cloud services are just that – services. These services must be understood and used optimally to meet company requirements. Consider a similar case with the power company that is responsible for providing sufficient electricity. No one expects the power company to manage lighting needs in the building or establishes a schedule for turning lights off during non-business hours. These responsibilities go to a facilities team within the company, not to AWS. The same situation holds for AWS solutions: the solution is given to the company, but the company still needs to determine how to use the solution.
So companies working with AWS still require engineers and system administrators on their side of the firewall to do routine maintenance tasks such as OS patching, security, troubleshooting, database administration, network management configuring and monitoring backups, and architecture design. Unfortunately, companies are allocating to many resources to maintaining existing environment. The majority of IT staff spend the majority of their day with routine maintenance. This reduces capabilities to exploit opportunities when first adopting cloud services, but also in expanding cloud usage.
Cost of AWS Cloud Expertise
Working with AWS cloud solutions requires some practical experience in adopting and maintaining the solutions to meet business objectives. How these solutions benefit the company must be designed into companies’ IT blueprint, in the same fashion each and every dedicated server is designed into the IT infrastructure. Unfortunately, the skills required to work with AWS cloud solutions are scarce and expensive to retain. Cloud computing is still evolving and new cloud services are being developed and existing cloud services are being improved upon by the cloud provider. Yet, companies need personnel to make appropriate adjustments when working with AWS and the expertise is difficult to find; resulting in IT departments ill equipped to keep up with evolving and emerging technologies within the cloud space.
When demand is high and supply is low, the obvious position for profit-based companies is to raise the annual salary for required personnel with AWS experience in order to attract qualified people. This pattern raises the average salary for most positions to higher levels, making obtaining and retaining necessary resources expensive. When companies are investing in maintaining higher IT operations payrolls, they lack funding to invest in new technology projects. Before a company can even consider adopting AWS solutions, they may not have the personnel or the funding available to ensure the solution is deployed and used properly.
Security in the cloud is still a major concern for most organizations and the number of data breaches reports each year does not serve to diminish the concern. AWS has been victim of several major breaches and has had resources used by attackers to perpetrate attacks on other companies. The annualized cost of cybercrime per business in 2014 was $7.6 million per year. This number is higher for the financial, technology and communication industries.
Cloud services may provide some financial and technical relief to businesses who are looking to innovate and adopt new technologies. While many cloud services may be straightforward and easy to use, some have a higher level of complexity requiring more than simple deployment and use. AWS is an IaaS solution provider and, as such, companies need to design how the solution should be used to meet business objectives. This requires some resources, expertise and understanding of AWS in order to be effective. If these challenges are not addressed sufficiently by the consuming company, AWS adoption will be just another paperweight of failed implementations.
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