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  • Intranet Book: Cloud First – Trend or Danger?
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“We need an intranet that is compatible with our cloud first strategy!” Companies like Salesforce, Google and, more recently, Microsoft are starting to hear utterances like this more and more frequently from customers. These days, these software companies only have services that run on their own servers, i.e. in their cloud. If a customer decides to pursue a cloud first strategy, that’s not a problem. 

In reality, as well, the cloud does offer a number of advantages. The users of a system do not care where the server is located. The application just needs to be fast and reliable. Long outages and sluggish reaction times torpedo user acceptance extremely effectively and in the long term, however. 

Providers like Google, Salesforce, or Microsoft can run servers that can be scaled quickly and reliably. Many customers are happy to accept this because they are not capable of hosting their own servers professionally – perhaps because they don’t have enough skilled system administrators on board, or because they don’t have the budget, or because the compliance requirements are too high for them. This is the best feature of the cloud: Someone else is responsible for its operation, maintenance and scaling, and all of the costs can be assigned to the application directly. 

Now as a business leader, you have to ask yourself the question concerning how dangerous it can be if your proprietary data is potentially accessible to others in the cloud. Anyone who has worked for the FBI, the Federal Police, the Federal Printing Office, or Apple will quickly realize that maintaining confidentiality with these organizations is of paramount importance compared to a start-up with maybe ten employees.

The higher your requirement for data security, data protection and confidentiality, the more you should be concerned with developing your own in-house resources to host servers in your own private cloud in the future. 

It is already becoming apparent, however, that companies can use server resources from other organizations (e.g. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure) extremely well even when they have the highest security requirements. For example, you can keep your data securely encrypted at Amazon et al., so that ultimately only your employees or agents can view, export, and process the information.

What is important is that you find a reliable answer to the question of, “Do we have the capacity and need to run our own intranet servers ourselves?” If the response is a clear “yes,” a cloud first strategy isn’t right for your organization. However, if you don’t want or are not allowed to burden your already scarce system administrator resources with an intranet project, you should consider running it in the cloud. Here, however, it doesn’t play a particularly important role for you and your intranet team in the specific cloud you run your intranet. 

There are organizations that want to run all their applications in a specific cloud for strategic reasons, although that doesn’t always make sense. Atlassian, for example, has tailored its data center products very heavily toward an AWS environment and provides a lot of automation for this environment that should be taken advantage of. SAP, on the other hand, has a close partnership with Google and can offer to run SAP systems in the Google Cloud in a particularly efficient and automated manner. 

It’s best to speak to your own systems administrators or expert consultants about where and how you should run your intranet. Only experts can effectively assess technical aspects like bandwidth restrictions, backup requirements, expense and the stability of the connection to other services. You will have to take the restrictions that the providers have into account while doing so here, of course.

If your intranet solution is only offered in the cloud, however, you don’t have to consult anyone about whether local hosting might be an alternative. That said, you shouldn’t let anybody tell you that restricting your freedom of choice in this manner fits in well with your organization’s cloud first strategy. That’s nonsense.

When it comes to our company, I’m delighted we are able to offer very flexible intranet operations with our Linchpin intranet and Atlassian Confluence base. Customers have the choice of providing the hardware themselves, leasing it in a private cloud of their own choosing or handing everything over to their provider. Everything is included, from the installation software to a cloud subscription service including an all-around convenience package. A customer first strategy, so to speak.

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