Cloud computing – In the business world, this has become the catch phrase and breakout trend during the recent years…and for very good reasons if I may add!
Gone are the days when local computers have to do the processing. The hardware and software requirements to keep a business running are significantly slashed. All the heavy lifting and resources demands are handled by the cloud provider’s network of servers.
Perhaps you’re a business-owner who is aware how the cloud works, but you’re not sure if you should take the leap. If that’s the case, a closer look at the two sides of cloud computing will help you come to an objective conclusion.
The Advantages Of Cloud Computing
In the United States, cloud technologies have become widely accepted. You’d be hard-pressed to find a business or home user who doesn’t use cloud services in any form. In Europe, the enthusiasm for cloud services is growing by the day. Just take Germany’s BITKOM as an example: Ever since switching to a cloud environment, their total turnover has increased by 1.14B Euros, and they’re on track to step that up to 8.2B Euros by 2014.
There’s little doubt that migration to the cloud presents numerous business advantages when properly implemented. Let’s take a look at some:
Cost Efficiency, Lower Capital Investment: Before the advent of the cloud, companies have to spend 5- to 6-figures on network solutions; servers and workstations; and business applications and software suites. Moreover, they have to maintain their hardware and software resources themselves, which entails additional costs.
By migrating to the cloud, companies are able to survive and even flourish in an ultra-competitive business environment. The affordable, monthly operating costs entailed by cloud computing allow businesses to get their hands on all the software and hardware resources they need – without boring a hole in their pocket.
Better Coordination Between Teams: In 2013, about 40% of the world has access to the internet. Moreover, according to the United Nations, the cost of internet plans have decreased significantly – with mobile plans exhibiting an 82%-reduction in cost across 160 countries. For adopters of cloud computing, this means they can work on projects and coordinate with teams wherever they are. And they need nothing more than a tablet or a smartphone to get working.
Flexibility: New technologies and business tools crop up regularly. Cloud computing, and its flexible rental terms, allows companies to sample these new ‘tools of the trade’ without much hassle. If the results and benefits doesn’t justify the costs, they can easily pull the plug and stop their subscription. If the opposite turns out, they can stick with their subscription and scale it as the company grows.
Maintenance-Free: Support and regular maintenance are factors that businesses need to take into account when buying new hardware or software – and it can significantly pad their Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
With a cloud-based infrastructure however, all the support and maintenance workload shifts from the business-owners to the popular cloud computing providers like TierPoint, Right Scale, and VMWare. Everything from patches and updates; regular scanning for vulnerabilities; to procurement of replacement parts are dealt with by the cloud service providers.
Companies Still Hesitant – 3 Reasons Why
It minimizes capital expenses; enables seamless coordination between teams despite the distance; conserves a companies resources – and the list of benefits go on and on. What’s not to like about cloud computing!?
Despite the advantages however, many companies around the world are still hesitant to move their IT infrastructure into the cloud as revealed by a 2011 study by Symantec (State Of Cloud Survey). The study, which involved 5,300 respondents across 38 countries, analyzed how companies would adopt cloud computing and address the necessary changes in IT management.
At the end of the survey, 3 major reasons why companies refuse to move to the cloud became apparent.
Data Security: The Symantec survey saw data security as the single most important requirement and the biggest concern for companies who consider migrating. About 59% of respondents from Germany were particularly concerned about malware, while 56% were worried by possible data theft and hacker attacks. Across the 5,300 respondents however, 87% strongly believe that adopting cloud computing has no impact or even improved their IT security.
Not Yet Ready: Despite sitting down and extensively considering the migration, majority of the companies concluded that their IT staff is not yet ready for the cloud. Only 15 to 18% of the worldwide respondents were confident that their IT staff are fully prepared for the migration.
Moreover, the survey revealed that between 47 to 54% of the employees involved have very little to no experience. Majority of the companies are still looking for external advice and help regarding the cloud. Plus, 3 out of 4 respondents that use a hybrid structure (Platform-As-A-Service) reported that they rely on Value Added Resellers; service providers and system integrators; and independent consultants to help them make a decision and get the job done.
Results Didn’t Live Up To Expectations: While moving to the cloud certainly looks great on paper, many of the companies’ expectations were dashed when the results came. About 88% of the worldwide respondents found that their flexibility didn’t improve that much. On the other hand, about 47% of the companies that their gains in the areas of disaster recovery, IT security, and efficiency are a bit lacking.
Summing Things Up
Just like any new business technology, cloud computing is created with all the best intentions and it really sounds great in theory. In the real world however, things are not as cut-and-dried. As a business-owner, you have to weigh the potential benefits and setbacks that migrating to the cloud will bring.