You’ve been in the cloud and probably didn’t even know it!
What’s all the hype about cloud computing? Is this something new? What’s in it for me personally or for my business?
Well, cloud computing is definitely not new, although Google, Amazon, IBM and others sure would like you to think so. Marketing gurus can put a spin on anything, but companies have been offering storage and virtual servers that can be accessed on demand for a long time.
Ok, let me take a step back. What is this thing called cloud computing? Cloud computing is simply the outsourcing of your IT infrastructure via the Internet. You pay for what you need and it’s there for you when you need it.
So you may ask, how have I been in the cloud personally without knowing it? Have you ever used Gmail, Google Docs, iCloud or something similar? If so my friend, you’ve been to the cloud. Personal cloud computing is rapidly entering all facets of our lives as more and more of our data, emails, music, photos, movies, etc. need to be shared with family and friends instantly.
How about the benefits of the cloud for business? What’s all the hype about? Well according to Fredric Paul in his article titled “8 Reasons Why Cloud Computing is Even Better for Small Business”, he pointed out the following:
1. Economies of Scale – “The larger the company, the easier it can generate economies of scale on its own.” However, with the economy being what it is nowadays, I would disagree with Mr. Paul that even larger companies should take a look at the economy of scale issues. There is a rapid shift in technology to limit large IT staffs and infrastructure and move towards making traditional capital expenditures become operational expenses.
2. Enterprise-class Functionality – “Big companies have the heft to create the custom functionality they need. Small companies simply don’t have the resources to do that. In the cloud they can leverage development, maintenance and upgrades across many small businesses.” Again, I would argue with Mr. Paul that larger companies also have tight resources and must find creative ways to support world class operations.
3. Money Matters – “Startups and small companies are often undercapitalized and pay-as-you-go cloud computing solutions typically don’t require lots of upfront cash.”
4. Infrastructure vs. Applications – “For the enterprise, cloud computing often means complex Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) projects that have to be installed and integrated into a company’s existing systems. For smaller companies, cloud computing often means complete cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) applications and application suites. No IT required.”
5. The Legacy Issue – “A common enterprise object to cloud computing is how will it work with the company’s legacy applications.” However, if we are honest with ourselves, our legacy systems should probably be trashed anyway. Agree?
6. Security Problems – “While security in the cloud may still be shaky by enterprise standards, it’s almost always far better than what small businesses are able to provide for themselves.”
7. Compliance – “Because you don’t necessarily know where your data is stored in the cloud, Infrastructure as a service can cause confusion as to whether it complies with local, national, and international regulations.”
8. Reliability – “The cloud is more reliable than most people think. When widely used cloud services and applications have outages, it makes national news. When an individual company – large or small – has a similar problem, they work hard to make sure you never even hear about it.”
So there you have it, the good, the bad and the ugly. There is no one size fits all, so do your homework before taking the leap. Ask the tough questions about network requirements, reliability, complexity, ownership of data, privacy and security. The cloud is not for everyone, but for some it’s leveling the playing field and transforming the way we live and the way we conduct business.
See you in the cloud!
About Kevin Jackson
An 8-year team member with WOLF, Kevin creates the process behind the business. As the Management Representative for WOLF’s ISO 9001:2008 Certification, Kevin’s quest for process improvement is relentless. His practical business experience combined with his BS in Economics and his MBA in Accounting & Finance, allow him to take a holistic approach to technology and business development.