We hear the term agile used quite a bit, especially in regards to lean practices in both manufacturing and software development.
Regardless of your own industry, agile practices can help your company quickly adapt to new challenges and solving new problems at a reduced cost with less effort than most companies have been able to pull off in the past.
For example, if your company makes small parts for the auto industry and you’re asked to make small parts for the marine industry, how quickly and easily could you pivot and begin making parts to meet your new customer’s standards? Would you need new tool and die components? Would you need new machines? Would you have to hire new workers to manage the changes?
Meanwhile, a 3D printing manufacturer would have the agility to pivot in a matter of days, if not hours. They don’t have any specialized equipment like tool and die fixtures and jigs or hydraulic presses and sheet metal stamps. They only need computer files and the right kinds of printing filaments, and they can print anything their customers need, changing parts and industries on the fly with the click of a mouse.
Cloud computing can help you be more agile, regardless of your industry.
In the old in-house data center model, companies buy server blades and store them in their server racks in their dedicated server rooms equipped with special cooling and ventilation systems, limited security access, and highly-trained and costly IT specialists.
As the technology ages over time, servers are replaced and updated, even while the server racks can never truly expand. At some point, there are only so many servers the racks can hold, and only so many racks the room can hold. Any expansion either means building a new server room or even expanding to a new part of the building.
As a result, companies are limited in terms of what they can do, the data they can process, the computing tools they can use, or even the growth they can accommodate. They can’t pivot and change, as they’re limited by their own physical space and even their budgets.
Cloud Computing Lets You Turn On a Dime
But if you were using cloud computing for your company’s computing services, you could expand and shrink as needed, and manage your growth and processing needs with the click of a mouse.
Let’s say your company needs to process mountains of data on a regular-but-not-constant basis. Once a month, you have to process a petabyte of performance data for your oil and gas company. Or your financial technology company has to analyze millions of financial transactions. Or a multi-state retail operation with hundreds of stores has to manage their inventory.
Your in-house servers might not be able to easily handle the workload spike, so you’re faced with either trying to expand for thousands of dollars, or you could turn on some cloud-based processors and software to handle all of this for you.
In many cases, these cloud-based services can analyze many gigabytes and terabytes of data for pennies per GB, so your data costs are a few dollars at most.
Better yet, these can be turned on and off as needed, either manually or using automated scripts. Instead of having servers sit unused for 29 days a month, you can turn on your cloud processors for your project, pay for what you use, and then turn them off again when you’re finished. You only pay for what you use, and you’re not responsible for maintenance or upkeep. The cloud computing company takes care of all of that.
This means your cloud computing budget can be a static line item that’s a fraction of your current budget, not a constantly-fluctuating figure based on the number of servers you have to replace or IT specialists you have to hire just to handle those special processing projects.
You can be agile, bring your cloud computing power online as you need it, and shut it off once you’re finished. No retooling, no new equipment, no expansion or reconstruction.
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