Are You Ready To Benefit From Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is defined as a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or cloud provider interaction.
During the course of our discussion with few of our clients we came across a few common apprehensions about their business adopting cloud and their experience from adopting cloud. Below we try to demystify the cloud and determine how SME can beneft from cloud.
Cloud computing is for large business groups and not for SMEs?
This is ignorance. Cloud should beneft SMEs more than large businesses. Large business can play with shareholders' money, buy expensive technologies and discard in case of failure, whereas SMEs are typically closely held, work on thin margins and have less money to own IT infrastructure. Cloud ofers SME opportunity to experiment with emerging technology for business and many cases beneft, which in traditional approach would not have been possible.
I will be at mercy of service providers if my business adopts cloud computing?
Why fuss about information using existing service available in a delivery platform? Using cloud is as reliable as using service of telecom operator for your communication needs or particular Airlines for travel.
Cloud computing will put my data at risk?
Majority of cloud providers have security system in place which in most likelihood be beter than what you currently have. Additionally security should be commensurate with risk levels.
Why should I go for cloud when I am happy with in-house IT system that I have now?
Cloud offers you flexibility and experimentation with newer technology and you may be missing something that is useful for your business.
Will Cloud computing help me reduce my IT cost, help try new technologies for my business and offer flexibility?
Cloud provides you payment options to choose from including pay by usage, pay monthly, discontinue a service which is no longer required and scale up or scale down anytime. Most importantly, cloud removes the entry barriers of trying out technology that was earlier monopoly of organizations with deep pockets to spend.
What do I do with hardware and applications that I already have?
This is a question that haunts all technology ofcers and prevents them from migrating to cloud and maintain status quo. On a case to case basis one needs to evaluate the outfow in terms of annual maintenance charges, sunset of applications and need for migration to new versions of applications, cost of manpower engaged to maintain the in-house system and surely cloud would not be a bad option for SMEs. Also there are cloud providers who in many cases are willing to take over your hardware and applications.
What strategy I need to adopt to migrate to cloud?
In the initial phase of migration to cloud, use a service provider who is reputed and good though expensive compared to other cloud providers. Once you have experienced the benefits of cloud, migrate to a service provider who is less expensive. This should help you to get buy-in of your move from internal stakeholders.
What applications should I move to cloud?
Many companies would like to adopt the easy approach and migrate applications that are seldom used to cloud thereby ensuring status quo of in-house IT management. This approach is least benefcial.
What about business continuity and disaster recovery in case of cloud?
Majority of cloud providers have data centres across geographies and have the best of the security systems in place due to regulatory requirements and frequent customer audits. The level of disaster recovery and business continuity they would offer will be much better than what your in-house team manages now.
The regulatory requirements do not permit me to adopt cloud for my business?
The regulatory requirements are evolving and taking note of the internal controls that cloud ofers for enhanced security. Hence it is beter to apply the requirements afresh before deciding not to use cloud.
To conclude cloud is not something complex which cannot be adopted by SMEs. The most significant benefit that cloud offers, especially to SMEs is a platform to try out new technologies that can help in doing business smartly at lower investment and discard the technology if it fails to deliver the desired results. In the pre-cloud era such luxuries of trying out new technology was not available for small and medium businesses thus missing out technologies that could have provided competitive edge.
Company that plans to use opportunities from the cloud should evaluate the various cloud services before choosing one that fits the business. You need to pay particular attention to contracts, especially the rights and obligations related to notifications of breaches in security, data transfers, change of control, and access to data by law enforcement entities. Since cloud can be used to outsource critical internal infrastructure, and the interruption of that infrastructure may have wide ranging effects, you would need to carefully consider the liability clauses with their cloud service provider and their customers. Doing better business globally using cloud is a sure recipe for success.