Ask the Experts: Should I embrace the cloud?

Posted by Peter Cochrane on April 4, 2009

Weighing up the pros and cons, Silicon.com, 4 April 2009

The first question to ask is: what kind of business are you in, and what is the IT capability of the people?

The second question is: what kind of equipment have you invested in, and how many people do you have working out of the office?

The third is: are you thinking of asking people to use their own laptops and desktop facilities?

The fourth: do you intend to build your own cloud, or are you going to outsource?

These will dictate the kind of cloud you should go for and your future operational mode.

Remember that you are trying to afford new degrees of freedom and flexibility in order to up productivity while maintaining the integrity operations and security of access and data.

Overall this is about efficiency and cost saving but these should not be at the risk of operational fidelity.

I favour migrating technology and workforce slowly from where you are to where you would like to be - learning and adjusting as you go.

So let's now tabulate the pros and cons.

    Pros:
  • Reduced hardware, software, network, support, accommodation and environmental costs
  • Greater flexibility, mobility, utility, operational stability, process control and activity monitoring
  • Faster updates, procedural changes, training and debugging
  • Better security, scalability, use of resources, control of data access and recovery from catastrophic failures
    Cons:
  • Dependence on centralised server and services that are in-sourced or outsourced, plus the need for fixed and mobile bandwidth everywhere
  • Instantaneous propagation of service-affecting errors, software problems, mistakes and other snafus
  • Catastrophic and instantaneous failure mode at a terminal level and no one can work until the problem is fixed. This is leading many people to opt for a 'thinish' client model with a limited offline capability such as Google Desktop.

Finally, remember that just like outsourcing this is ultimately a zero-sum gain. The first mover gain is huge but as others join you, your cost savings will be matched by your competitors. But if you don't do it, you may find yourself at the back of the pack.