Cloud computing isn’t magic, although it can sometimes feel that way. The benefits include being able to access files from any connected device, and having rapidly scalable resources on tap, but cloud computing isn’t always the right answer for everyone. Indeed, good cloud providers will outline potential stumbling blocks to make sure customers know what to expect. So before you start proposing cloud computing as a tool to fix every problem, it’s worth thinking why it might not solve everything.
The flexibility of cloud computing is a benefit in terms of resources, but a potential problem for your financial department. Your monthly bill will vary depending on what is used, meaning that project fixed costs can’t be provided, and often there’s an additional cost to itemise billing to separate out bandwidth used, storage consumed and power utilised, which makes detailed financial reports cost prohibitive.
It’s also possible that you may overestimate your usage, or with web-based interfaces, turn on additional features without noting the cost, leading to a shock in your next bill.
Not all of us work in a small start-up environment. Medium and large companies may still be heavily invested in their own data servers and data centres, meaning that there are quite hefty implications in suggesting to your MD or CEO that you ditch it all for a cloud service.
One avenue is to keep your onsite centre running as your main data centre, but to utilise the cloud primarily as a backup which also enables cross-platform access as a bonus. That also avoids restructuring existing data feeds and end products before a cloud service has proved its value.
End user connectivity:
One big advantage of cloud storage is access anywhere, on any device. But that relies on connectivity for the end user, both in terms of access and bandwidth.
Broadband speeds across the UK have improved enormously, but still vary by location, particularly in more remote areas. If all work across your business means increased usage and downloads, can your infrastructure cope for 8+ hours every day?
Keep your target in mind:
There’s no point spending the necessary time and investment to ensure your data is stored securely, you have the right infrastructure in place, and your supplier has the right Service-Level Agreement, unless there’s a defined benefit in mind for your company.
- Do you have a distributed workforce, or a need to access large numbers of files remotely on a regular basis?
- Is scalability for users a key concern?
- Do you want to move away from onsite data centres, and lose the costs of hardware, infrastructure and ground rent?
The important thing to remember is that this doesn’t have to be an either/or decision. If your sales force requires remote access to a handful of documents, you can experiment with a very low cost cloud solution to facilitate them, without either moving your business wholesale or risking that they use personal cloud solutions without the right security measures in place.
With the right outcome fixed in mind, the decision between cloud computing, onsite solutions, or the correct combination of the two will be clear.