Unless you live under a rock, or perhaps are from an earlier generation, ‘the cloud’ doesn’t just mean a white puffy mass in the sky. Cloud computing is everywhere and is a key topic of discussion on the internet as well as in the conference room. While most companies have at least ‘some’ footprint in the cloud at this point, it appears that many still cannot let go of much of their on-premises infrastructure. Is it finally time to jump into the cloud with both feet? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Many of the benefits of cloud computing are well-known and clear. These include:
- Cost-efficient: Cloud computing is arguably the most cost efficient method to use, maintain, and upgrade software and infrastructure. There are several payment options such as one-time-payment, pay-as-you-go and others available to meet the needs of any company.
- On-demand: Because the cloud is not tied to a single location, a cloud-based solution is great for companies with offices in various locations (which is most these days).
- Scalable: Cloud-based solutions allow companies to scale up or down as business grows or budgets tighten.
- Increased storage capacity: The cloud offers almost unlimited storage capacity. So companies no longer need to worry about running out of storage space or increasing storage space availability.
- Quick deployment: Cloud solutions can launch almost immediately, with an entire system fully functional in a matter of minutes, while an on-premises solution can take days to launch and/or update.
There are many more advantages to cloud computing, but what are some of the disadvantages that still remain and may be what is keeping many companies from making the complete move to the cloud? Let’s take a look.
- Security fears: The idea that a third-party has complete access to a company’s data can be tough to get past, as it could potentially put a company at great risk. Furthermore, while reputable cloud providers have sophisticated anti-malware tools, they are a big target for hackers. This is where a private server can be appealing, where problems can be fixed in-house and on a smaller scale.
- Available support should something happen: No doubt, having an in-house support team can bring great comfort to a company and its employees. After all, they get paid to focus entirely on the needs of their company. What if the storage a business moves to the cloud fails and there is no support available? While a responsible provider should be available by phone or email if a problem occurs, good service does come with a price. For example, Google’s basic “Silver” support package for their cloud platform currently costs $150/month, which offers a four-hour response time (during business hours only) and does not include phone support. The costs for more focused support are even greater. However, compared to salaries and benefits for in-house employees, this might not be much of a disadvantage.
- No internet connection: With the cloud, in theory, information and data can be accessed anytime and from anywhere, unless there is an outage or other technical issues. If you can’t access the cloud, you’re not going to get much done. Problems with a cloud provider’s servers will then become your problem as well.
- Cloud vendors going out of business: It’s hard to go all-in, especially when the business landscape changes so much and so quickly. Cloud vendors ‘do’ going out of business or may radically change their business model or service. This is where doing extensive research in choosing a reliable provider comes into play. But the risk is still there.
No doubt, cloud computing is here to stay, and for good reason. There are so many advantages to it and the model does make sense for most businesses. However, like most things, there are disadvantages and it is important to understand what they are before diving in. Perhaps some companies are finding a hybrid approach works best for them, and why they haven’t gone completely all-in. I suppose we’ll see in time what the future holds for the cloud.