Businesses have heard a lot about the cloud, but not all of it falls into the realm of useful information. Many companies looking to start a move cloudward find it difficult amid marketing speak and high-budget advertising efforts to determine what’s right for their IT needs and discover where the cloud might not be a “best fit.” Before starting any deployment, it’s important to examine how both how organizations perceive the cloud and also break down some of the hype that’s become synonymous with this technology.
A recent Gartner survey predicts that by 2016, the cloud market will be worth an estimated $207 billion, though still represent only a fraction of total IT spending. It’s worth noting, however, that cloud deployments have already prompted a slowdown in the growth of on-premise hardware and software sales. So things are definitely looking up for the cloud, but who’s driving this interest?
In many cases, chief operating officers (CEOs) are the ones contacting cloud providers, looking to move their entire business into the cloud, even if it doesn’t make logistical sense. For many, it’s an all-or-nothing proposition; they want every server, every database gone and replaced with an off-site option. When asked why moving everything is a requirement, many CEOs can’t put their finger on a reason but mention television commercials or promotional materials from big companies – there’s a feeling for some that if they don’t head cloudward immediately they’ll miss the virtual boat. Others are dead set against a cloud move, in whole or in part, but the same problem often appears: they can’t articulate exactly why.
A lot of this confusion comes from a misunderstanding of what cloud computing can offer a business. Despite the massive sales machines run by some industry tech giants, the cloud can’t solve every IT problem instantly or make computing costs negligible, but it can offer a number of substantive benefits, most importantly scalability and reliability.
Because a cloud computing environment is hosted off-site, a business isn’t tied to local server farms and their maximum capacities. If more computing power is needed as a company grows, the provider takes care of hardware, software and licensing, meaning all IT pros and CEOs need to do is log in and work as usual. On the flip side, if a business needs to downsize, cloud computing costs fall proportionately as fewer resources are used. Reliability is also a key cloud benefit and is based around the concept of redundancy. Instead of having data stored in a single server, it is spread across multiple locations, each of which can take over if another source fails. Even if a company has to leave their physical office, data doesn’t go anywhere – a connection to the Internet along with the proper permissions and they’re up and running again.
The cloud is like any new technology: huge hype but a lack of concrete information is par for the course. For CEOs of small and midsized companies looking to make a move to the cloud it’s best to take slow steps – find out what works, and then implement a cloud piece-by-piece. Don’t get sucked into the all-or-nothing paradigm.
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