5 Things You Need To Consider Before Switching To The Cloud
What Is The Cloud?
These days it seems everyone is talking about the cloud. Although a universally agreeable definition appears as fuzzy and nebulous as the technology’s meteorological namesake, most understand it to mean distributed computing – applications and data served up over a network connection, from an external location, somewhere in the World Wide Web. This technology is revolutionizing the way we do business, and cloud companies are enjoying record growth. But is cloud computing right for you? What follows is a list of considerations, before you take the plunge.
How Much Will It Cost?
This is usually the first question people ask – and the answer will usually be, “Less than you’re paying now.” Because cloud computing dynamically allocates shared services, it can be delivered to the desktop at a much more appealing price-point than if you purchase the necessary hardware and software to provide the same level of service. The cost of entry is very low, and it can significantly decrease your IT maintenance and support budget. But before you select a hosting company based only on cost, there are other things to consider.
Scalability & Version Upgrade
Web-based solutions allow your infrastructure to easily grow with your business. You pay only for what you need to use. Adding a call center seat or a software license is practically effortless, but it’s a good idea to know ahead of time what changes or additions to your account will cost. Additionally, we have all experienced the complication and cost of version upgrades and compatibility issues. When your business needs are serviced by a hosting company this can all be taken care of for you, but again, you should have a clear understanding of your vendor’s policy regarding this.
This is obviously a big deal for a lot of people. When a valuable resource like your customer information is stored outside your firewall, is it more likely to get lost or stolen? When a good service provider hosts your data, they do so using levels of security far greater than those typically found inside your building. Hosting vendors also tend to be better at backing up data, and many have security and back-up procedures that exceeds regulations and guidelines covering disaster recovery and business continuity. Discuss these issues with any prospective hosting company.
What Do You Need?
A good cloud host can provide applications, data storage, video and interactive voice communication. This is a tremendous benefit when it comes to unified communications and mobility, so when talking to prospective vendors, discuss your needs. Have a full understanding of this up front because you don’t want to partner with a cloud company only to find they cannot satisfy all of your requirements.
Connection Speed & Availability
With ever-increasing available bandwidth, connection speed is less of an issue now than when the Cloud buzz first started, but a chain is only as strong as the weakest link and it is important that you select a vendor with a published performance record. If they can’t clearly quantify their claims, look elsewhere. Some cloud providers are even boasting the coveted “five nines” (99.999%) uptime.
The Bottom Line?
Cloud computing has clearly come of age, but as with any new venture, it is essential to do your homework when selecting a vendor. That being said, one thing is certain – moving to web-based services, will reduce your operating costs, secure your data and allow you to concentrate on your core business, not your IT problems.
What problems have cloud computing solved for your company?
Stephen R. Drage ran the U.S. Product team for a multinational telecoms company. He is now a freelance author, entrepreneur and award-winning public speaker. Stephen grew up in England but now lives in Atlanta, GA.