News about the cloud is everywhere, the sales pitch for cloud computing is simple.
Companies pay a third-party vendor to run one or more of their systems, like email or payroll, on its own servers, saving tons of money.
But the reality usually isn’t so clear-cut. The costs may not be as attractive as they look at first glance, and it may be better to keep some critical or complex software in-house even if it’s more expensive to do so. There are also potential legal issues that arise from using cloud servers; companies might unwittingly violate the terms of their software licenses or federal rules on storing data. Plus, reliability may be an issue, as some customers of SaleForce.com learned earlier this year.
Here are five things to consider:
How Much Do We Save, If Anything?
When considering which systems are candidates for the cloud, companies need to start with the basics: Is this move going to save money, and will it bring better technical results?
How Complicated Is Your Software?
Things can also get murky if companies have software that needs constant tweaking and updating or is integrated to many other systems. Cloud services may make that kind of hands-on control difficult and expensive. It is a better idea to move relatively simple and nonessential systems, like email and payroll, to the cloud first. While consumers may be happy to have their photos and emails reside on the cloud at some unspecified location, executives have to consider a host of compliance and regulatory issues.
Do I Need to Control the Operating Environment and Database?
The Cloud is inexpensive from a hardware and software/database perspective because the provider owns these things and shares the expense across many (sometimes millions) of users. Virtualization and really, REALLY inexpensive data storage made the cloud possible so that sharing resources is both secure and less costly. But the compromise is that for some complex business processes and some compliance issues, the business application needs to use the database as an adjunct tool to the business applications (think SQL triggers) or the operating system (think workflow from a restricted user audit perspective) requires to be modified. This is impossible or nearly impossible when you share these resources with others.
What is the Viability of the Cloud Provider?
This is a given, but sometimes overlooked. Microsoft and Amazon will probably be around for the long haul, but what if you went to your application only to find a “page not found 404” message in your browser? How would you recover from that? This after all, is your data, photos, business applications etc., you need to have some certainty of viability of the cloud provider.
How Secure Is It?
Cloud providers are usually much more capable defenders of data than companies are. They typically have state-of-the-art defenses such as firewalls and actively search out intruders and try to trap them—a step few companies take on their own. Just check out the security language in your contract.
The cloud is a great way for organizations to focus on what they do best rather than software and systems. Just be certain that the provider is secure, viable, has what you require and it is a better deal for the organization.
STEVE HAMMETT | Director of Sales
Steve graduated from University of Maryland, Baltimore, with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.), in Economics and a few years later, a Master of Science (M.S.), in Information Technology. He has helped organizations for over fifteen years to solve business problems using technology. He is well informed with all Microsoft Business Solutions and is a Solutions Certified Sales Representative. For fun he looks to the outdoors, whether water, where he is a sailor (Coast Guard certified in Costal Piloting and Navigation), a PADI certified scuba diver, and a certified Red Cross Water Safety Instructor, or land, where he is a skier, hiker and mountain biker.