Earlier this year my AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification expired. I didn’t renew it right away due to several factors. First, I focused on passing the ISACA CCAK exam and I started my master’s degree. I planned to ramp up and take it later this year or in early 2024.
My plan changed as my employer started an initiative to get everyone in the company AWS certified with, at a minimum, the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification. I started reviewing the documentation and study plan for the Cloud Practitioner certification and found the six advantages of cloud computing to come up on more than one occasion. As I prepare to re-certify, I wrote this post to explore the core benefits of cloud computing and also provide real-world examples I have run across in my time in the field.
Six advantages of cloud computing
1. Trade capital expense for variable expense
Instead of having to invest heavily in data centers and servers before you know how you’re going to use them, you can pay only when you consume computing resources, and pay only for how much you consume.
A big part of my time working for MSPs was spent preparing quotes for upgrades or new builds. Looking back, I spent a ridiculous amount of time reviewing ESXi hosts, SAN storage, and other hardware my clients had to purchase upfront. All of this was due to the fact we never wanted to run out of space, or not have enough compute power to run proper workloads.
Shifting to the cloud, instead of purchasing expensive SAN storage upfront, clients moved to storage services like AWS S3 which allowed them to pay only for what they used. This avoided large hardware purchases. Many CFOs I've worked with prefer this model aligns with a cost-effective and agile approach to resource allocation and allows the business to adapt to changing needs and optimize their budgets.
2. Benefit from massive economies of scale
By using cloud computing, you can achieve a lower variable cost than you can get on your own. Because usage from hundreds of thousands of customers is aggregated in the cloud, providers such as AWS can achieve higher economies of scale, which translates into lower pay-as-you-go prices.
Rather than massive upfront infrastructure investments, customers take advantage of AWS's vast economies of scale from its millions of users to obtain on-demand access to a wide range of enterprise-level solutions at bargain prices. One manufacturing client I worked with was able to reduce IT costs by over 50% by shutting down their data centers and leveraging AWS's infrastructure. My consulting clients enjoyed major cost reductions, efficiency gains, and agility by tapping into AWS's customer base.
3. Stop guessing capacity
Eliminate guessing on your infrastructure capacity needs. When you make a capacity decision before deploying an application, you often end up either sitting on expensive idle resources or dealing with limited capacity. With cloud computing, these problems go away. You can access as much or as little capacity as you need, and scale up and down as required with only a few minutes’ notice.
Many clients faced issues with guessing the needed capacity in terms of servers, storage, and bandwidth. Every time, I had to overprovision the resources in case there was a spike in usage and to make the hardware last its normal lifecycle. By leveraging AWS's scalable resources, my clients were able to adapt on the fly to changing business needs without big forecasts. One media client easily handled a 10X spike in traffic to its site by leveraging AWS's autoscaling, avoiding previous crashes under peak loads.
4. Increase speed and agility
In a cloud computing environment, new IT resources are only a click away, which means that you reduce the time to make those resources available to your developers from weeks to just minutes. This results in a dramatic increase in agility for the organization since the cost and time it takes to experiment and develop is significantly lower.
The ability to instantly spin up resources is a huge benefit to migrating resources to the cloud. One startup client was able to rapidly test and iterate their MVP in a matter of weeks and launch months faster by leveraging AWS instead of traditional on-premises procurement cycles.
5. Stop spending money running and maintaining data centers
Focus on projects that differentiate your business, not the infrastructure. Cloud computing lets you focus on your customers, rather than on the heavy lifting of racking, stacking, and powering servers.
Freeing clients from the overhead of managing their infrastructure and facilities has been a major win. One retailer I worked with was able to reallocate IT resources to customer-focused projects after migrating fully to AWS cloud-managed services.
6. Go global in minutes
Easily deploy your application in multiple regions around the world with just a few clicks. This means you can provide lower latency and a better experience for your customers at a minimal cost.
AWS's global footprint has enabled clients to easily expand internationally on demand versus the significant investment previously needed. One of my previous clients rolled out targeted campaigns in Europe and Asia within days by leveraging AWS edge locations and cloud infrastructure versus months previously.
By leveraging AWS's global scale and on-demand model, organizations can gain agility, reduce costs, and focus IT resources on innovation versus maintenance. I've seen firsthand how small businesses and large enterprises alike have benefited from moving to the cloud - faster time to market, expanded global reach, and greater adaptability to changing needs. At the end of the day, AWS cloud delivers tangible advantages by allowing companies to tap into world-class infrastructure and services without massive capital investments. The numbers speak for themselves, as client after client achieves their goals by embracing the flexibility and opportunities of cloud computing.