May 05, 2022

Top-down vs bottom-up cloud solutions

Cloud computing has grown exponentially over the last few years, with more businesses choosing the cloud over on-premise servers. The cloud offers a more affordable and scalable solution that is easier to manage and maintain, offering higher speeds and better cybersecurity.

More flexible and robust networking is made possible through the cloud thanks to advances in automation and technology. Large enterprises can revolutionise every department with data-driven decision making. Whether it be to analyse the market and consumer demand, or to better manage human resources, data stored on the cloud makes way for greater transparency and agility.

Once a business has decided to go ahead with cloud migration, the next step is to decide which approach will work best. Top-down and bottom-up solutions both have their benefits and large enterprises need to weigh them up before finalising their cloud strategy.

A cloud solution can utilise existing public clouds applications (bottom-up) or be built from scratch (top-down); the choice between the two will depend on the organisation’s digital strategy. With large enterprises, the cost of developing their own cloud solution is often prohibitively high, so taking a bottom-up approach generally offers improved return on investment (ROI).

At SEACOM Business, our high-performance cloud solutions offer large enterprises advanced levels of security. By adopting this bottom-up cloud solution, large-scale operations, such as those in retail, entertainment, education and banking, can benefit from a robust and secure cloud environment. SEACOM Business’s cloud solutions give enterprises the peace of mind that they can enjoy world-class services that are secure, scalable and affordable.

What’s the difference between top-down and bottom-up

The key difference between these two approaches is related to how the solution was developed. In a top-down approach, new solutions are developed from scratch. With this top-down approach, a high-level view of the digital portfolio is required and this influences the cloud strategy. Once the main priorities have been set, cloud architects and developers get to work on designing, prototyping, testing and, finally, implementing the necessary digital infrastructure.

With a bottom-up approach, we see enterprises migrating to cloud solutions that are already publicly available, such as the Microsoft Azure platform. SEACOM Business is a Microsoft-validated cloud OS network partner, offering large organisations in South Africa tailored solutions to support their cloud strategy.

It is common for big enterprises to adopt cloud strategies that take a bottom-up approach as this has a variety of benefits over the top-down approach. It is quicker to deploy, more affordable and still has the benefit of being customisable to a company’s unique requirements.

Limitations of a top-down approach

Business applications that are purpose-built for enterprises and then modified to meet evolving changing needs are often less agile, more expensive to develop and more complex in design. These types of cloud solutions can be over-engineered, with complex architecture that requires highly specialised know-how from in-house IT teams.

Although a cloud-native application should consider scalability in its design, complex infrastructure can result in delays in development and implementation. A top-down approach should include potential future uses, but these requirements may be out of the skill sets of discrete IT teams.

In certain circumstances, it may be necessary to create a highly specialised cloud solution to meet unique business requirements. In that case, a top-down approach will certainly take preference. That being said, it is only in a handful of scenarios where such specialisation is beyond the scope of an existing platform as a service (PaaS) application, such as Microsoft Azure. In these scenarios, tailored solutions can be incorporated into a hybrid cloud model, keeping costs down while still catering for specific cloud requirements.

Enterprises adopt a bottom-up approach to cloud migration

Migrating legacy enterprise workloads to the cloud can be a massive undertaking, especially for those organisations with legacy applications that are not designed to run on a distributed infrastructure like the cloud. Data gravity can become an issue for companies needing to migrate large amounts of data onto virtual servers. There may be issues of compliance, especially in terms of how the data is stored, as well as sheer volumes of poorly organised datasets.

Despite this, a bottom-up strategy is generally recommended, even for the migration of legacy workloads. Cloud transformation strategies do not need to include the research and development of custom-built solutions. Enterprise-grade versions of cloud technologies offer seamless cloud migration, allowing users to expand their workloads on cloud-based systems. More enterprises are choosing a cloud strategy based on using readily-available software that supports different operating systems, with hybrid cloud engagement.

Security, configuration and integration have been identified as the key factors that enterprises need to consider before adopting a bottom-up approach to cloud migration. As such, it is essential for large-scale organisations to choose a cloud solution that also offers excellent security and compatibility.

SEACOM Business has partnered with leading IT security providers to ensure advanced levels of cyber security, including data encryption and next-gen firewalls. Our experienced cloud architects support enterprises with their network design, deployment, data management and security policy implementation. With Microsoft Azure, our cloud solution is compatible with remote desktop working and supports Windows and Linux-based operating systems.

Cloud solution strategy for enterprises

Whether an organisation chooses a top-down or bottom up approach, the starting point should always be to have a cloud strategy that supports the corporate strategy. New technologies do not always offer a good ROI, so innovation needs to be coupled with opportunities for value creation.

Before implementing a cloud solution, it is necessary to do a thorough analysis of existing hardware, software and the network topology. How much data are you handling? What existing contracts does the organisation have with vendors? The cloud strategy must optimise business outcomes. Complexity can put the brakes on cloud strategy, and this has led more enterprises to adopt a bottom-up approach.

Forward-looking enterprises will inevitably move to the cloud at some point. In both the private and public sector, the cloud offers new levels of interconnectedness, both from an organisational perspective and in terms of consumer engagement. Unlimited capacity on the cloud allows for flexibility and scalability that on-premise alternatives simply cannot provide.

Using well-established cloud technologies makes it easier for large organisations to manage their digital portfolio, perform system maintenance and back-ups, without any disruption to daily operations. For more information or to get a quote for our various cloud services, email us at or leave us a message.

SEACOM owns Africa’s most extensive network of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, including subsea cables and secure internet connections. We offer a diverse range of flexible, scalable and high-quality solutions for businesses that meet world-class standards for connectivity.

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