The buzz of cloud computing seems to have hit a fevered pitch in industry magazines, trade publications, and the mainstream media recently. It seems like every day our Technology Services Group is being asked by clients what the "cloud" is, or to suggest cloud-based solutions for applications or services that were (or are) typically on a server in their offices.
Is your business thinking about making the switch to cloud computing? If so, we've put together a quick list of things you need to know when thinking about moving to the cloud.
1. Understand the real business reason for the move: Before getting too caught up into a cloud solution, it is critical to have a thorough understanding of the business reasons for moving into the cloud. If you can't articulate that reason easily (and with conviction!), it might not be a good choice (at least not today). For example, if you have a business with many remote employees, employees that work from home frequently, or if your business has several locations, exploring cloud based email services can make a lot of sense. However, if all of your employees generally work from a single location, and do not access email very often from outside the office, an on-site mail server is probably a more appropriate choice.
2. It’s not an all or nothing proposition: Not all applications are good candidates for moving to the cloud. Remember that you can consider moving specific applications the cloud. Many vendors are offering cloud-based versions of their software or operating systems now, but not all of them are optimized (or built) for the cloud. Email is typically a great "foot in the door" cloud option to get you familiar with cloud computing and what the benefits (and challenges) can be.
3. Evaluate the providers, just as you would any other technology vendors: Because of the hype surrounding cloud computing right now, there are a lot of start-up cloud vendors, or traditional technology vendors dipping their toe into the cloudy water. Once you identify a vendor, be sure they offer a trial of their service, and put a strong testing plan together to evaluate it.
4. Calculate the “real” cost: One of the USP’s (Unique Selling Propositions) that many cloud vendors like to use is their significantly lower cost compared to their traditional, on-premise equivalents. Traditional software/on-premise based solution costs usually include software licenses, hardware, power, internet access (if made available from outside the office), implementation costs, and ongoing support fees. Cloud-based service fees can include the monthly subscription fees and a setup fee. But there are other indirect costs that also need to be considered in your evaluation, including: additional storage fees (as you data grows), local internet access upgrades (you may need to increase your bandwidth to utilize a cloud-based service), and termination or cancellation fees.
5. Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity (DR/BC): The cloud introduces a brand new set of concerns and challenges when it comes to data backup, disaster recovery and business continuity. It is a different scenario compared to an existing on-premise infrastructure. It is important to update your existing DR/BC plans to with any changes that your new cloud service may introduce.
Thinking about making the switch to cloud computing? Please leave a comment below, or contact Brian Rosenfelt in Skoda Minotti's Technology Services Group, by calling 440.449.6800.