It wasn’t that long ago when “cloud computing” seemed like a futurist’s dream, but now it’s a reality. Has it fulfilled its promise of great reduced costs and increased business agility? The answer is: “Yes, no, and sometimes”.
When cloud computing is a good fit, it works very, very well, and for this reason, it looks like the future will continue to develop cloud-based technologies. Two things the cloud does really well, and has led to wide spread adoption, are data backup and email.
With regards to data backup, it’s been a common practice in businesses of nearly any size to back up important data, and at some point remove those backups from the main premises. It just makes sense – any disaster that might harm the place of business would likely harm the backups and negate their value in business continuity. Hand carrying backups on media (tapes, CDs, DVDs) got the data away from the premises, but exposed it to other perils (electromagnetic damage, theft, etc), so uploading data backups to a data center in the cloud is a really convenient solution, and often, is the first foray into the cloud for many companies.
With email, many companies’ needs are fairly modest, but they found out long ago that “popping” mail from their ISP as not a good solution. So, they purchased and maintained an email server, and it became part of the on-premises network infrastructure. When hosted email services became available, many companies jumped at the chance to discontinue having email served from on-premises equipment.
Even with data backups and hosted email, however, companies soon learned that some thought has to go into the move to cloud computing. It’s not nearly enough to look at monthly service rates and pull the trigger. Here are some things every company must consider when evaluating cloud services for their business:
Bandwidth and redundancy for Cloud access
“Cloud” usually means Internet access, but not always – there may be private connections to cloud resources that don’t involve the internet per se. Regardless, care must be taken to ensure there is adequate bandwidth to use applications through the cloud, and steps should be taken to provide an alternate connection if the primary connection fails for any reason.
Some businesses were “born in the cloud” – their IT infrastructure was cloud-based from the beginning. But if a company is going to migrate services to the cloud, there will be costs for setting up the cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and for the project of migrating data and processes to the cloud. There will likely be some consulting costs as well, to map out the transition and choose the appropriate services for the business.
Return on the Investment
The notion of ditching capital expenditures and paying nominal operating expense fees every month is part of the allure of cloud computing. But remember to factor in the costs of migration and the expected fees as your company grows – when, exactly, will you start saving money? And is there a tipping point there you might stop saving money in the future?
Like any technological innovation, cloud computing has the potential for very real benefits. And like any technological innovation, it has specific applications in the real world. It’s definitely worth investigating – and an IT Consulting firm like Clare Computer Solutions can help your company navigate the choices.