What is the cloud? Who invented it? Should I use it? Will it save me money? My customers ask me these questions each and every day.
Let’s start with the basics. The Cloud is a buzz word created by marketing people. Hopefully, they were paid royally because they sure did get the word out. Have you ever used AOL in the 1990s? Guess what - your email was in the cloud. The cloud existed back then. It’s nothing new. It’s become easier and more cost effective to use the “cloud” due to the increase in Internet bandwidth available. The Cloud is your data, applications or computing power stored somewhere else and then delivered to you via the Internet. The cloud can essentially take us back to the old days of computers where there was a mainframe (remember that word?) and dumb terminals.
Will it save you money?
It all depends. One of the key things people do not consider with the cloud is that you still have to do something and pay someone to manage your network. Your IT needs do not go away. You will need someone to add users, run system updates, ensure your network is secure and troubleshoot issues when there are glitches. Another consideration is when you move your network to the cloud you have to pay every month. The bill never goes away. If you own your equipment and have it in your building and have a bad year you can continue to use your existing equipment with no monthly payment. If your equipment is in the cloud, the bills keep coming. If you stop paying the bill you lose access to your systems. When considering moving to the cloud it is also important to consult your CPA and your financial team as well. The implications of using the cloud are far more than just technical.
To Cloud or Not to Cloud?
I am sure Shakespeare pondered many things but not this question. There is not a right or wrong answer. Some cars use gasoline and some use diesel. It’s a matter of preference, budget, needs and how your office/company runs. It’s a great technology and if used properly, it can be very powerful. The opposite holds true as well – if you are not educated on the solution it could be a waste of money and resources.
My final thoughts
Migrating your network to the cloud is a big decision. When making the choice be sure to check references, find out the financial stability of the data center (What happens if they go bankrupt and where does that leave you and your data?), and be informed. Work with a consultant you trust and examine all options. Figure out your short and long term goals and make sure your technology is in place to support them.