Technology has its fads, we all know that. Remember HD DVDs? No, neither do we. So when it comes to cloud computing, it’s understandable that some people are a bit wary. But there is one subtle difference. Cloud computing, ain’t no fad. It’s here to stay. Gartner predicts that the bulk of new IT spending by 2016 will be for cloud computing platforms and applications with nearly half of large enterprises having cloud deployments by the end of 2017, while CRN predicts that by the end of 2014, small businesses will spend almost $100 billion on cloud computing services.
So if cloud is here to stay, should you be on it? While it’s true that cloud computing brings a great many business benefits, it’s not necessarily right for everyone. So what do you need to know? Why does cloud computing make good business sense and is it right for you? Here are my top three pros and cons to cloud computing to help you decide.
- A Flexible Approach
When you switch to a cloud computing infrastructure, your company data is stored on the servers of your cloud provider (aka the cloud) and you and your employees access that data via an internet connection. This gives your business flexibility. You can work from any location with an internet connection, and on any device. It instantly gives you a remote working facility. Staff can work from home, from meetings, hotels, conferences, the airport, the train… Your business runs around the clock, productivity goes up, and with it, so does morale as flexible working becomes an important employee option.
- Spread The Cost
There’s a bit of a myth that a cloud computing solution is cheaper than an on-premise solution. Not necessarily so. Though it can certainly save you money. If you’re running six servers, with the expense of purchase, maintenance, power and cooling, and you move all of that data into the cloud and decommission those six servers, then you’re going to see a cost saving. But what cloud does in terms of finances, is turn your capital expenditure into a running cost.
You rent server space on a monthly basis, and the upfront cost to transition your business to the cloud is minimal in comparison to the cost of new hardware. With a monthly recurring cost there comes a point where you break even and it has cost you the same as an on-prem solution would have cost, but it makes cash flow better, helps with budgeting and you can forget about the unexpected costs of hardware failure, licencing upgrades and the like. It’s all taken care of as part of your monthly charge.
- Business Continuity
The business cost of a data loss can be catastrophic. Imagine if right now, this second, you lost it all. Your offices were burgled, caught fire or were flooded. Files, folders, contacts, calendars, emails, apps…. How well would your business run without them? Whether it was a temporary or permanent loss, the results would be pretty disastrous for most of us. And there’s a much higher chance of that sort of a data loss happening if your data is sat in the corner of your office on a server, than if it’s in a data centre.
Fire, flood, theft and equipment failure are all very real threats to your premises, they are not so much of a threat to the high security data centres that host your cloud data. And if you’re using cloud computing and the worst happens, you can quickly relocate to alternative premises – whether that be an emergency office or your living room, and continue to work, Your business keeps running.
- Connectivity Is King
Three words – connectivity is king. Without an internet connection, cloud computing is… well, actually, cloud computing isn’t. You can forget it. So you need good connectivity – which isn’t currently available in all parts of the UK, although we’re getting there. And of course, an internet dependent solution carries a risk of downtime, but that risk is no greater than the risk of downtime with an on-premise solution. You still need the internet to send your emails with an on-premise solution. But it’s well worth noting that without good connectivity, cloud computing is a no go.
- It’s A Control Khing
You do lose a bit of control when you switch to a cloud solution. Your precious company data is being entrusted to a service that you have little, perhaps no control over. This concerns some people, especially when it comes to data protection. So you need to make sure you do your research and choose a reputable cloud provider with a good amount of the right experience. You need to be able to trust them, and likewise they need to prove to you that they’re worth your trust. Committing yourself to a long contract with the wrong provider will cause problems further down the road.
- It’s Not For Everyone
Not all businesses are ready for the cloud. Not all need it. Making the change to the cloud is a big deal and a lengthy process. If it doesn’t fit your business, then don’t get involved. But don’t rule it out. As your business needs change, and technology changes, you may well find that cloud is the solution for you.