Should you ‘cloud’ everything? Probably not …
More and more businesses are moving their IT infrastructure to the cloud because of the many advantages they get; but should you be moving everything to the cloud? What are the pros and cons, the pitfalls, and the things you need to consider?
Whether to move your IT infrastructure to the cloud is a critical decision for your business. Cloud computing promises a completely different type of responsiveness, effectiveness and efficiency in IT service delivery; but it can also present some challenges.
The fees may seem lower, but they can add up
One of the most obvious advantages of cloud computing is the low upfront investment. The total cost of ownership is low because you don’t have to purchase hardware and software. Some applications are free; while others are charged on a monthly, per user, basis. In some situations, you can save on expensive license renewals by bundling licensing costs.
Some providers will lock you into an upfront contract of 12 or more months – so you need to ensure that you’re committed to the product and the number of users you are subscribing.
Remember too that, in the long run, you’re still going to need to budget for system updates and essential hardware upgrades.
You’ll need a reliable internet connection
Since access to the cloud requires online connectivity, one valid concern is the reliability of your internet service.
Unfortunately, fast and reliable internet connection is not consistently available in many areas of Australia. The speed of a broadband connection is not just about download speeds, but also the capacity for multiple streams through a single connection.
For inputting data to an online database, such as Xero accounting software, a standard ADSL2 connection should be sufficient for a small business of less than 20 people; but once you start clouding more data-intensive applications such as email or file storage, you’re really going to struggle with anything less than a fibre connection.
In areas without NBN access, fast fibre internet access can cost upwards of $850 per month; while a less expensive enterprise-grade connection will start at $200.
You’ll also need up-to-date hardware to ensure seamless access to applications and data; so if your business falls short with your IT infrastructure, you may experience productivity problems.
Will your data be secure?
Some business owners are sceptical when moving their business into the cloud because of the perceived risks to privacy or security, or the potential for data loss. It is true that storing sensitive business data in the cloud can make it vulnerable to external threats; though the larger and more reputable providers of cloud services work very hard to minimise and mitigate the risks. One very real possibility, which is often overlooked, is that your online service provider may shut down abruptly without notice; which could leave you in the very difficult position of trying to recover your much needed data.
What about your existing on-premise infrastructure?
When considering any migration of business operations to the cloud, it’s important not to discount your existing on-premise infrastructure. After all, it’s served you well in the past, and you’ve probably invested considerable capital in it. With that in mind, you may consider adopting a hybrid model of cloud computing.
Choosing a hybrid cloud model
The hybrid model provides a choice to combine both cloud-based services and on-premise solutions. But choosing the hybrid model requires careful assessment of the following:
- on-premise resources – hardware and software
- data storage requirements
- availability of IT personnel
- remote office options
- internet connectivity and quality
- the number and location of system users
- relevant regulatory and auditing requirements
- risk factors of the system
- clients/partners system compatibility.
The hybrid model provides the best of both worlds. By placing part of your infrastructure in the cloud, you can take advantage of the upfront cost savings and scalability of cloud computing; even as you continue to enjoy the security and guaranteed access of an integrated on-premise infrastructure.
If you’re thinking of moving all or part of your IT infrastructure to the cloud, you need to consider both the business and technical necessities. This is where a trusted IT partner is invaluable.
Proactive IT Solutions can identify your needs and assess your options to customise a quality, cost effective solution designed to facilitate optimal business performance.