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For Business Acumen, Look to Cloud Services

In 1999, a few former Oracle employees started Salesforce, becoming pioneers in the SaaS (software-as-a-service) industry. According to Keith Weitz, Trimble Transportation’s VP of Technology and Cloud Services, the early goal of Salesforce was “to get the servers and the software out of the client’s offices and into what would soon be known as ‘the cloud.”

In 2006, Amazon launched Amazon Web Services (AWS), originally conceived as an infrastructure-as-a-service platform (IaaS) from which companies could host their own applications. Microsoft joined the IaaS fray in 2008, launching Microsoft Azure, and upped the ante in 2011 with the introduction of Office 365, and more importantly, Exchange Online, giving businesses the opportunity to ditch their on-premises exchange servers for Microsoft’s “cloud.”

Multiple business tools followed email to the cloud: CRMs, databases, and an ever-increasing number of IT tools and applications. Capabilities expanded at a dizzying pace, and it became an integral part of every new tech product and innovation. 

Last year, as the world’s economy was whipsawed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Salesforce revenues were $17.1 billion, a 29% increase over 2019. AWS’s revenues were $45.3 billion. Microsoft made $50 billion. COVID-19 provided the ultimate use case for how the cloud can support businesses through unprecedented disasters and extended emergencies.

A Tale of Two Clients

As offices emptied out during March of 2020, remote workloads became a stress test for IT systems across the globe. It wasn’t just a case of having enough bandwidth to connect now-remote workers, but could business networks sustain the sudden challenges of doing business in uncharted territory?

During a recent Transport Topics webinar on the benefits of the cloud for our industry, Trimble Transportation’s Keith Weitz, Vice President of Technology and Cloud Services, told the story of one client who found their business suddenly brought to a standstill by the pandemic:

“Our customer was unable to dispatch so they couldn’t process orders in a timely fashion. The system they were using was highly sensitive to latency, and connecting to it remotely was not cutting it. A large part of the problem was remote connections to their SQL Server. We quickly built an environment for them in our cloud utilizing Citrix technologies and migrated their data overnight. Now the client had a remote solution, and they were able to get their business back up and running. They could work from their home during the pandemic or anyplace else if they wanted to and not miss a beat.”

Weitz also discussed a client that was the victim of a ransomware attack, a real threat which has been growing in recent months. 

Ransomware exploits security flaws in unpatched systems, enters through exposed network ports, or arrives in phishing scams delivered via legitimate-looking emails. The cost to victims is climbing: last year the average cost of a ransomware attack went from $750,000 in 2020 to almost $2 million. Two high-profile cases this summer in the U.S. had significant impacts on supplies of gasoline and meat, costing the victimized suppliers $8 million and $11 million in ransoms to get decryption keys (and back to business).

Weitz’s client arrived at the office on a Thursday morning and found a message splashed across every computer screen stating all their files had been encrypted and that they had to pay to get their data back. Calls were made to tech support, but their entire infrastructure was completely shut down. They turned to Trimble Cloud Services for help. Weitz’s team jumped into action. By Monday morning, the client was able to locate an older backup. While the client lost data in this case, they were up and running again in days by transitioning their entire operation to the cloud, sparing them weeks or even months of trying to piece everything back together.

Is it Time to Migrate to the Cloud?

While these companies migrated their business to the cloud under extreme circumstances, cases like theirs are increasingly common. Every day more and more companies discover it doesn’t take an emergency to shift their workloads from on-premises systems to a cloud environment that provides them with security, efficiencies and cost-savings:

  • In a cloud environment there are no more hardware requirements or server rooms to manage, which means your tech experts no longer have to support or spend money on cooling systems, spaces for server racks, or the miscellaneous equipment required to manage an IT infrastructure.
  • Annual support contacts on hardware become a thing of the past.
  • Capital expenditures and employee headcounts are reduced.
  • Responsiveness and flexibility to business cycles: scale servers up or down as needed.
  • Software licenses can be transferred to the cloud.
  • Security is provided by hosts with expertise employing the latest technology.

If recent headlines and your own experience has left you wondering if it’s time to move your IT to the cloud, consider your operations through these five vantage points:

  • The current state of your IT infrastructure and the costs to maintain or replace it.
  • The strategic value of migrating to the cloud can save you over the next three-to-five years. Take advantage of your current Trimble team for advice on how to maximize efficiencies and increase functionality.
  • The benefits of offloading or reducing IT responsibilities.
  • Disaster recovery scenarios. Is your plan for maintaining your company's ability to function during the next pandemic, natural disaster, ransomware attack, or terrorist attack a solid one that has been tested and validated?
  • How vulnerable is your business to ever-increasing security threats? Make sure your infrastructure is safe, sound, and up-to-date. This should be a core competency for your IT people.

Discover Additional Cloud Considerations in Our Free Guide

Interested in learning more about the migration to the cloud and what to consider when making the switch for your business? 

Check out our complimentary guide to get tips on preparing for a move and how to evaluate your options, including the selection of the right technology provider. You’ll walk away with the confidence in knowing the answer to this basic question: “When are we moving and how do we get it right?”