How to decide to go to the cloud

Stephan GmelinBy Stephan Gmelin, PCX Technologies, Inc.

The most important question to ask yourselves is: Do I have a compelling business case?

Circumstances where a compelling business case for cloud computing can be made are:

  1. Rapid Business Capacity & Scalability requirements
  2. Partner Collaboration – Information and services need sharing between participants, using a common collaboration process and tool set
  3. End-User Cost Optimization – A highly mobile workforce needs access to company data, resources & collaboration tools
  4. Regulatory Requirements – e.g., Financial Services firmlacks the necessary in-house skills & resources to support the high degree of sensitive assets and data that is required to support its key business processes and regulatory compliance.
  5. Business Launch – reducing capital expenditures makes a compelling reason for cloud computing.

The Cloud is not necessarily cheaper than in-house IT. Chances are that you already have an in-house deployment and despite any frustration you may have with in-house deployments and/or your support services, a whole set of different issues needs addressing when you take your business in the cloud and on-site support for your office infrastructure will still be required.

In favor of the Cloud is the fact that:

  1. No upfront investment for your server infrastructure means a substantially reduced capital expenditure for your information technology.
  2. Ongoing monthly costs to provide the IT resources your business needs could be low.
  3. Flexible capacity is available to scale up or down depending on business need, respectively season.
  4. You can go global in minutes by taking advantage of cloud based resources.

However, a deployment in the Cloud can have disadvantages too.

  1. Who will manage your Cloud deployment?
  2. What are the security arrangements?
  3. Who has access to business files and who controls those access rights and the retention policy?
  4. How are files recovered? Can the recovery be granular?
  5. How many different vendors need to be managed when you go to the cloud?
  6. How big of a learning curve will your staff have when you go to the cloud?

While many software vendors offer their products in the cloud, you need to recognize that these vendors will host their application in their cloud and should you need products from several vendors you will be located in different datacenters and your environment will be managed by different vendors. How easy or hard will it be to manage the data sets that the applications need to work with? Who will architect the solution for you and does the architect understand your business?  A decision to go to the cloud should be deliberate and based on a valid business case.

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