Listen to the hype, and you’d be given a pass for thinking cloud computing is all benefit and no drawback. Thanks to the market’s maturity and rising diversity, however, you’re not far off the mark. Pros now significantly outweigh cons, but companies still need to know where they’re headed and what to expect when they arrive. Here’s a quick breakdown:
The biggest benefit of cloud computing? Accessibility. When software, platforms and even infrastructure are no longer tied to your physical network, users can easily tap in anywhere, anytime. What’s more, the cloud supports all device types from desktop PCs to tablets, smartphones and the growing market of IoT machines. As noted by My Tech Bits, for example, cloud offerings are a big plus for medical companies that may need access to patient data — day or night, weekend or even holiday. By removing local stacks as the limiting factor, companies can effectively bring needed corporate data with them wherever they go and scale up storage and speed on demand to meet emerging needs.
Wondering about cloud cons? Security always makes an appearance. Small Business Computing raises good points: Not all data belongs in the cloud, since provider-side breaches or government requests could put company information at risk. In addition, businesses are now held accountable for meeting strict compliance standards when it comes to financial, health and legal data — and this accountability does not transfer to cloud providers.
In practice, however, the “con” of cloud security is more myth exaggeration than actuality. Web-based, real-time security tools have emerged to take on zero-day threats and existing network compromise. As long as companies take the time to decide which data should move off local servers and which needs to be kept close to the chest, security in the cloud is no longer a significant obstacle.
Pro: Cost Management
How much does your IT cost every month? For many companies IT spend is simply the “cost of doing business” — moving to the cloud, however, can change this paradigm. Instead of spending on hardware, spending to expand capacity, and then spending to replace machines when they fail or their life cycle ends, choosing the cloud means you’re only on the hook for the monthly cost of service, since all upgrades and hardware replacements are handled by your provider. Cloud computing can also change the IT dynamic by giving employees more time to focus on line-of-business objectives rather than troubleshooting, in turn generating a kind of productivity-based ROI.
Con: Internal Infrastructure
This con isn’t so much about the cloud but about how internal systems handle the cloud. Before deploying any cloud solution, it’s critical to take a hard look at your in-house infrastructure: Can existing network connections handle the needed bandwidth of cloud services, and is your Internet service provider (ISP) up to the challenge of supplying consistently high-speed downloads and uploads? If the answer is no in either case, it’s a good idea to delay cloud adoption until you’ve got the basics covered.
Pro: Better DR
Want better disaster recovery? The cloud has it in spades. Since your data is distributed across multiple failover points, even a large-scale disaster won’t affect your bottom line. With cloud-based DR you’re ready to work via mobile in the interim and resume once local systems are up and running again.
Moving to the cloud isn’t all wine and roses, but pros far outnumber cons. The more you know about both, the better prepared you’ll be to make the transition.