Future is in the cloud

Future is in the cloud

Companies are moving to cloud services at an accelerating pace. How will this change the market and what will be the new risks alongside? We met up with Wärtsilä’s CIO Jukka Kumpulainen to delve deeper into the world of cloud services.

Text: Sofia Kilpikivi Photo: 123RF

The use of cloud services and cloud applications is a rising trend among B2B companies. According to a report by McAfee, published earlier this year, 93% of all companies are using cloud services to some extent. The investments in cloud are also on the rise: the report estimates that during 2017, 80% of all IT budgets will be committed to cloud apps and solutions.

According to Jukka Kumpulainen, CIO, Wärtsilä, using cloud services brings considerable advantages – as well as some challenges to overcome.

“Firstly, using cloud services is not that big a change we easily tend to think”, he explains. “Outsourcing has been common for years. Wärtsilä has been doing some changes for about ten years already,” he points out.

First ones to see the benefits of cloud services are employees. At Wärtsilä, office employees started using Microsoft's Office 365 for communicating and collaborating about one year ago. The perceived benefits have been clear: the flexible ways of working, the cloud services allow, have been praised, as well as so simple thing as the improved size of e-mail storage.

So users, in this case Wärtsilä office employees, find cloud services they’re using very convenient – which of course shows positively on productivity. But what about the bigger picture? What kind of impact does using cloud services have on a company and how will it change practices?

Kumpulainen believes the effect is, and will be, enormous. He points out two most notable advantages cloud services bring to any company: the flexibility of working and the speed of service development. “When using cloud services, we can work anytime, anyplace, with any device”, he says. “This dynamic and agile way to work is the way of future, and it would be really difficult to actualise without cloud services.”

Cloud services and data security

The way cloud services have sped up processes is ground-breaking. “Normally it takes time to build services,” Kumpulainen notes. “With traditional ways, we needed to do all the investments and decisions, and this made the process slow: it easily took months.  With cloud services, it is possible to see and test the first version in days, even in hours.” As a great example of this way of working, Kumpulainen mentions the Wärtsilä SAP Cloud Hackathon. In the event, teams built cloud-based solutions in just two days.

Even though the upsides are evident, there are also challenges to overcome. One of the key things to solve is data security. According to McAfee’s study, trust in the security of cloud services is improving, but 49% of companies have slowed down their transferring to the cloud because of lack of data security skills within the organisation.

But Kumpulainen says the data security risks may not be the ones that come to mind first. “Cloud services’ information security must be excellent by default,” he notes. “It is vital to the companies providing cloud services, so it’s a very high priority to them.”

We used to think our data is safe inside the company, protected with firewalls. This has changed. Now the main concern is identity and access management and how to protect the content. “But this is also a positive point”, Kumpulainen remarks. “As the services need to continuously adapt and be prepared for upcoming risks, it also means continuous development.”

Working in a global environment also brings its own challenges. “Here in Finland, we have excellent networks and fully operational internet connections, which is not the case in every corner of the world. This clearly is a challenge, as our employees need the access to data wherever they are,” says Kumpulainen.

Despite the challenges, the benefits of using cloud services are outstanding, Kumpulainen sums up. Wärtsilä is definitely going to utilise cloud services on various aspects, as it makes a digital company agile and adaptive.

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