Remember the last decade, when cloud computing was touted as the wave of the future for businesses? We’re well past the point of talking about a “future” technology—the cloud is firmly entrenched in the modern IT landscape. According to IDC, worldwide spending on public cloud solutions will reach $162 billion in 2020, and that number doesn’t include any sort of private cloud infrastructure or applications. Cloud solutions have clearly become an integral element of the IT operations of organizations of all sizes.
With this in mind, businesses may feel the need to jump on the bandwagon and adopt cloud computing or increase their cloud profile. Though this strategy can certainly help some companies, it may be an unnecessary move for other companies. Unfortunately, greedy IT service consultants might push cloud solutions on clients that don’t require (and sometimes can’t afford) such an upgrade. Therefore, the question to ask yourself is: does your Los Angeles area business really need the cloud?
Cloud Solution Pros
The cloud offers businesses some undeniable benefits. Among the pros:
- Convenience: Depending on the level of cloud adoption, businesses can eliminate most of their IT hardware (not including, of course, computers, printers, and routers). You won’t need to worry about a server room overheating if there are no servers to cool.
- Flexibility: Adding to your IT infrastructure or software stacks is less daunting with cloud solutions. For example, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application can be easily added as required, then discontinued when it no longer serves your needs.
- Enhancement of current systems: Cloud solutions can complement and enhance your current infrastructure—a great solution if your servers are running out of space and you can’t afford to completely overhaul your systems.
- Manpower: The cloud doesn’t require as much time to manage, thus freeing your employees from IT-related busy work.
- Efficiency and mobility: Without hardware tying people to the office, employees can work from anywhere, simply signing into the cloud to access the applications they need.
- Familiarity: Many employees are already familiar with cloud applications to some extent—Gmail, Dropbox, and iTunes all are cloud-based. On a business level, cloud solutions are easy for these workers to adapt to and embrace.
Cloud Solution Cons
Though the cloud offers numerous benefits, it’s not perfect and may present shortcomings depending on the business considering it. Here are some cloud cons:
- Significant investment in current IT infrastructure: If you have relatively recently invested a large amount of money into your infrastructure and software stacks, spending more to adopt cloud solutions—even in a supplementary role—may not be cost-effective and will potentially be frowned upon.
- Bandwidth: Cloud solutions require outstanding internet speeds and routing hardware, which might require additional expenditure.
- Trusting the provider: If a problem arises with your systems, someone outside your organization may be called for help—and you are left hoping that someone isn’t on vacation. Similarly, a technical problem with a cloud solution can affect your operations, putting you at the mercy of how well the provider can fix the issue on their end.
- Cost: Cloud solutions may avoid or eliminate large capital expenditures, but in their place are monthly or yearly costs that must be paid. If your budget becomes tight for whatever reason, you won’t be able to simply cancel your offsite data storage or your email platform.
Look at Your Current Operations
With these pros and cons in mind, you may or may not be any closer to an answer on whether to move to the cloud. The next step is to assess your current operations and how your current computing needs fit into cloud adoption. For example, a small office that doesn’t rely on its computers outside of a few basic applications might be prime for the cloud, but if your current server is working fine, is the expense of such a switch worth it? Or, if your company houses significant amounts of customer data, do you trust it completely in the cloud? Plenty of homework is necessary to determine if a cloud strategy is a clear improvement.
Partner with Experts
Still befuddled? You are not alone, which is why many organizations seek third-party help to assess their needs. Although the cloud is a step up for many Los Angeles or Southern California businesses, an IT services consultant that puts on a hard sell from your first conversation is more than likely thinking about his own needs rather than yours. The best providers work with you: They become true partners rather than just vendors. Such an expert will chart multiple courses of action (possibly including hybrid cloud options), and even if cloud solutions aren’t part of the final strategy, the provider can still help maximize your IT infrastructure. When you are ready to move to the cloud, your partner can guide you through the next steps.
Are you contemplating a move to the cloud? If so, what roadblocks are you encountering?