The benefits of cloud computing have caused the technology to grow exponentially during the past several years. Companies of all sizes have embraced the cloud as a solution that provides flexibility and increases efficiencies in corporate IT environments.
The cloud has become especially attractive to small- and medium-sized businesses by facilitating access to services and applications that put them on par with larger enterprises without having to make a hefty upfront investment in network equipment or ongoing maintenance commitments.
But the decision to shift to a cloud-based environment can be complicated, and decision-makers may find it difficult to sort the facts from the fiction about the cloud. Following are some common misconceptions about cloud solutions.
Cloud services are sometimes thought to be cost prohibitive. While deploying a private cloud solution can require upfront installation and equipment costs as well as ongoing maintenance expenses, public cloud services actually can allow small businesses to access services they may not have been able to afford otherwise.
Public cloud services aggregate expenses over a wide user base, thereby allowing companies with limited IT budgets to buy into cloud services at a more manageable price point. Using a cloud solution, companies only pay for what they need and can scale their cloud contract based on their changing needs and usage.
While there are ongoing periodic fees associated with a public cloud service, those expenses are typically fixed or at least predictable and easy to budget.
Data security is a crucial consideration for companies moving to a third-party cloud environment. Fears about the security of data traveling outside the company’s network or being accessed by personal devices are valid and should be taken into consideration.
That said, cloud providers have a vested interest in providing top-level security via encryption and authentication, and they typically dedicate full-time resources to keeping up to date on and detecting ever-changing security threats. Still, the company has a responsibility to be vigilant about security within its in-house networks and processes.
Reliability is often touted as one of the major benefits of cloud solutions, and usually cloud services do offer a high level of reliability and uptime. However, there is always the possibility of unexpected or scheduled downtime. Cloud systems are susceptible to crashes and power outages just as traditional networks are.
When choosing a cloud solution, examine the provider’s ability to recover from such events and look for a solution that has built-in redundancies to help minimize the impact of downtime. Solutions that use a variety of vendors are less susceptible to unexpected downtime and system failures.
One of the primary benefits of the cloud is that it alleviates some of the ongoing maintenance commitments and expenses typically associated with in-house networks. Some cloud providers even offer free maintenance support.
It is important to remember, however, that moving to the cloud does not eliminate the company’s need for some continued IT support. End-user equipment and in-house network elements will still require maintenance not provided by the cloud provider.
Sorting It Out
The decision to move to the cloud can be complicated enough without having to sort through misconceptions about what the service offers and how much it costs. First understanding the company’s requirements and then studying how the available cloud options meet those needs will start the process on the right track.
Be diligent about separating the facts from the the fiction about cloud services so that the right service can ultimately be chosen and deployed.