The Pros and Cons of Moving to the Cloud
For just about every type of organization, from startup to regulated government agencies, cloud computing has become more attractive than ever. Here are the major pros and cons to take into account before making the move.
Moving operations to the cloud is now an easier decision to make – but here are some of the pros and cons you want to be aware of as you consider the move.
You can't help but read about cloud computing everywhere, can you? That's because there's been a profound change in the world of business and IT in recent years. Organizations of all types and sizes have shifted to cloud computing.
As the technology has matured, a more modern infrastructure has taken shape – designed to support a range of key technical and business goals. Now the cloud is considered – not just a mainstream option but – a key ingredient to gain a competitive advantage. According to a recent
Forbes survey, 74% of Chief Financial Officers report that cloud computing had the most measurable impact on their business in the past year.
What do we mean by "the cloud?"
Defined simply, in a cloud-based system, software is hosted on the vendor's servers and accessed through a web browser. By contrast, in the traditional on-premise model, companies purchase software licenses that are installed locally, on a company's own servers and computers.
Is Cloud Better for Business – or for IT?
When deployed properly, the cloud provides a wide range of business benefits – such as increased agility and flexibility, improved collaboration, cost containment, scalability, and rapid access to advanced business applications. It also provides IT-specific benefits such as better security and disaster recovery, improved performance, and reliability.
Of course, these benefits are
not automatic. Remember, the cloud is not "magic" — it does require planning, work, and oversight to implement and run properly. And while moving key operations from on-premise to cloud may take you out of your comfort zone, downsides to using this deployment model can be mitigated or avoided completely by working with a trusted partner and putting a solid plan in place.
Reasons You'd Want to Move Key Operations to the Cloud
Here, we offer you our perspective on positive reasons to move to the cloud. Arm yourself with these ideas to significantly boost your chances of success:
1. Increased Business Agility & Flexibility
With the pace of change in business accelerating, simply "keeping up" is not enough. Businesses must always be one step ahead. So, sticking to the status quo is not a viable strategy. The choice is to "disrupt or be disrupted." Consider that digital disruption
will wipe out 40% of Fortune 500 firms in next 10 years." In fact, "half of the S&P 500 Companies
Will Be Replaced in the Next Decade."
 The cloud provides a cost-effective way to meet evolving demands quickly – and enable the agility and flexibility that businesses now require.
That agility and flexibility is enabled by a key advantage of the cloud, which is that you're not as tied into one particular configuration for a long stretch of time. Unlike legacy, on-premise systems that require long rollout times for new capabilities, cloud computing allows you to rapidly turn on new applications and opens the door to easier integration of new capabilities such as artificial intelligence, The Internet of Things, and Blockchain. Even if technologies like those don't seem useful for your business now, with cloud computing you are better positioned to benefit from them quickly if ever needed in the future.
2. Ability to Shift from Capex to Opex Upfront
Cloud computing operates on a utilities model that's similar to the way you pay for electricity. You pay only for the applications and capacity that you use. Specifically, the cloud enables companies to shift to an operational expense model, thereby eliminating capital expenses. A key benefit here includes the ability to more effectively align expenses to business outcomes, instead of large upfront purchases which may not align with tomorrows requirements.
The traditional on-premises model requires businesses to purchase excess capacity in case it's needed in the future. The cloud changes this scenario — enabling you to start small and scale up or down based on demand. This takes place at your own pace, as rapidly or as gradually as your business requires. So, rather than having to keep more equipment on-hand or constantly react to needs for more capacity – you can get additional storage space or computing power whenever it's needed.
4. Cost Savings
The rapid elasticity of the cloud eliminates the need to purchase and set up a data center, which requires large up-front expenses. This helps reduce operational overhead, and potentially reduces the number of services required in an office. The ability to pay only for the services you need is a source of potential cost savings. As conditions change, cloud applications can adapt to those demands, so you don't have to pay for capacity you may never use.
5. Improved Collaboration Among Team Members and Departments
By providing software and services over a network, the cloud enables teams to collaborate instantly, and share work in real time, regardless of physical location. This translates into a tangible business benefit as it enables new ways of working that enhance competitiveness. The cloud enables this cross-location communication within applications and specific documents so employees can expedite work for projects from wherever they are working.
6. Better Security and Disaster Recovery
Worried about the security of your critical data? Well, the truth is, storing data in the cloud can be safer than storing on physical servers. Experienced cloud service providers offer multi-layered security defenses that when implemented properly make breaching security measures extremely difficult. Additionally, cloud infrastructure is monitored at all times to head off potential security threats. A further source of strength is that cloud providers submit to frequent audits.
7. Better Performance
When deployed properly, the cloud offers faster performance through modern infrastructure, increased computer power, and upgraded applications. This gives businesses of all sizes the ability to grow globally without being held back by traditional IT concerns.
If you design your services for cloud computing, it offers improved reliability over on-premise solutions. These benefits are available when the system is designed for fault tolerance failure detection and recovery. This result is best achieved by working with an experienced provider to clearly define service reliability and availability requirements. Such a provider will also carry out reliability diligence to ensure all components meet solution requirements.
You might ask yourself, "Can you afford to let your competitors leverage the most powerful computing resources in the world, while your company is still running a basic data center out of your own office?"
Reasons You Might Be Hesitant to Move to the Cloud
While moving to the cloud has the potential to deliver significant benefits, any large-scale transformational technology project brings challenges. In this section, we walk you through some of the potential downsides of shifting to this deployment model. Keep in mind though, that educating yourself and having a plan in place will allow you to mitigate or eliminate any potential downsides:
1. By Nature, People Can Be Resistant to Change
It's not uncommon to encounter internal detractors – and sometimes within the IT department. Many staff members have built their expertise on hardware and on-premise solutions. So they may have concerns over the pace of change (and potentially being made redundant). They'd often prefer to retain the existing infrastructure rather than take the chance on new technology they aren't as familiar with – nor have much control over. Fortunately, this challenge can be overcome by championing cloud technologies and creating a plan to transition IT staff to cloud technology-related roles.
2. The Prospect of Unexpected Outages/Technical Issues
At the end of the day, cloud solutions are reliant on a network connectivity. Even though reputable cloud providers may maintain high standards of maintenance, you might experience an outage or technical issue on occasion.
While some businesses are able to withstand a temporary outage, this is not the case for all. In case of a malfunction, if your service provider isn't available it may cost you current and future business. The key here is having a plan in place. This ideally will include alerting systems, high availability, redundancy, visibility, backup plans, and self-healing service architecture where possible. We also recommend working with your provider to craft service level agreements (SLAs) that clearly delineate a division of responsibilities in case an issue arises.
3. Your Company Isn't Ready from An Organizational Perspective
It's crucial that you put a transition plan in place that includes staff readiness in order to avoid potential problems. Often IT staff may possess a skill set more suited to on-premise solutions. There may also be conflicting priorities between departments that need be resolved before moving forward. Setting up a cross functional team of people that lead the organization as a whole in cloud adoption, migration, and operations can greatly reduce the likelihood of encountering any problems further down the line.
4. Security Concerns
When not implemented correctly, cloud solutions can leave your business exposed to potential risk. Because cloud computing uses a shared model of security between consumer and cloud provider, it's essential that you educate your team and create a plan in partnership with your provider. It's important that cloud consumers understand their networks and applications to provide for resilience and security, in addition to performing due diligence across the lifetime of a system.
5. Failure to Recognize the Financial Impact of a Mistake
The potential to waste your cloud spend makes optimizing costs imperative. While storage is cheap, computing power tends to be expensive. When systems sit unused, you can unknowingly rack up larger bills than expected. We recommend automating policies to optimize cloud costs, such as shutting down unused workloads or selecting lower-cost clouds or regions.
Cloud computing has certainly become a mainstream deployment model for enterprise IT over the last decade or so. The reasons behind this big change are in large part due to the massive benefits the cloud provides.
Fortunately, the cloud has matured to a point where many of the potential downsides have been mitigated. By creating a transition plan, you can avoid potential problems while maximizing the benefits the cloud offers. The fact is that technology and processes have now advanced to the point where cloud operations behave more like the real hardware you may be used to – only with more advantages at your disposal. The risks can be managed to the point where they are eliminated – and the benefits can be massive.
Businesses that don't embrace cloud computing risk being left behind. With the pace of migration accelerating every year, your competitors that use cloud computing are positioned to make further leaps ahead.
As you weigh all these pros and cons, here's a key question to consider:
"Can you afford to let your competitors leverage the most powerful computing resources in the world, while your company is still running a basic data center out of your own office?"
Moving to cloud is easier than you might think. All it takes is the will to make the decision – with an experienced partner guiding you in the right direction.
Advice for choosing a partner to help move operations to the cloud:
- Seek out a service provider that has the experience to move you over carefully and deliberately
- Better yet, find a service provider with deep experience in your industry with security and sustainability in mind
- Ask for referrals from other business owners on providers they trust
- Conduct background checks on a provider before you move forward with them
- Shift operations slowly, carefully, and deliberately to avoid mistakes
Want to learn more? Download your free eGuide here:
13 Secrets You Should Know Before Migrating Operations to the Cloud
Roundup of Cloud Computing Forecasts, 2017, Louis Columbus, Forbes, April, 2017
Digital disruption will wipe out 40% of Fortune 500 firms in next 10 years, say c-suite execs, Ben Rossi, Information Age, February, 2017
Why Half of the S&P 500 Companies Will Be Replaced in the Next Decade, Ilan Mochari, Inc. Magazine, March 2016