In today’s tech world, ‘the cloud’ or ‘cloud computing’ is an important concept which has become a necessity for businesses looking to stay competitive and propel growth. To help your business prosper, let’s take a deep dive into cloud computing, and learn about how to leverage it for your organization.
Welcome to the last article of our 5-part series about the cloud and how it impacts your business
With proper governance, cost optimization, and automation, arguably the most valuable asset of the cloud is overall cost efficiency. In today’s economy, competition fuels innovation and everything is being upgraded at a rapid pace. Adopting a cloud strategy yields the lowest cost of IT infrastructure because investments in expensive hardware can become outdated quickly. By avoiding these upfront investments, businesses can focus on establishing competitive advantages. Most importantly, because of these upgrades, the cloud enables businesses to use world-class computing at the lowest possible cost. Expensive, proprietary technology is becoming phased out, low-cost hyper-efficient capabilities are becoming common practice.
2. (Almost) Unlimited Storage
Storing information in the cloud relative to an in-house hard drive provides almost unlimited storage capacity. By avoiding internal storage capacity, you can pay variably for storage that your company needs. This means that storage can be added as needed, mimicking the effect of unlimited, albeit at a cost. You never know when you may need to expand business storage capacity, and physical infrastructure requires the need to be upgraded frequently.
3. Highly Scalable
Similar to unlimited storage, the cloud is highly scalable because you only pay for the amount of cloud storage or computing power needed. If your business encounters rapid growth, then you can adjust your cloud budget to accommodate respectively increased capacity. Same goes for the opposite. If your company is pivoting to a different product or industry and you want to keep as lean as possible, you can easily adjust your limits in correspondence. With physical, hardware systems, your limits are inflexible and can lead to inefficient costs.
4. Global Accessibility
Files in the cloud are accessed anywhere, at any time, from any device via internet connection. This allows remote brokers or other employees to be well-connected with the team even while with clients away from the office. Cloud tools make it easier to collaborate with colleagues remotely leading to increased synergies and higher productivity.
Negatives of Cloud
1. Risk of Service Outages
Since cloud systems are internet-based, service outages are a negative repercussion that can occur for many reasons. In areas where cell-service or wifi isn’t available, there may be negative implications impacting your ability to do work. When it’s offline, you’re offline. If your internet service suffers from slow speeds or common outages, the cloud may not be suitable for your business. However, there are many ways to mitigate the risk of information loss. For example, cloud applications such as Google G Suite (Docs, Sheets, Calendar, etc.) have options that allow for editing word documents and excel sheets offline without an internet connection. Once connected back to the internet, the changes will be automatically saved to the cloud.
2. Limited Control and Flexibility
To a varying extent, businesses on the cloud may have less control over the function and execution of services within the cloud-hosted infrastructure. A cloud provider’s end-user license agreement outlines the restrictions and rules that must be followed; imposing limitations. Users still retain control of their applications and data, but compared to in-house systems, lack the same level of control.
3. Platform Dependencies
Once committed to a particular cloud provider, it may be difficult to switch to another cloud service. Organizations may find it difficult to migrate their applications and data if a certain feature is introduced or law is enforced. This vendor lock-in may result in increased costs and headache in the case that a company wants to switch cloud providers.
Depending on the legislation within your country or industry, you may need to be careful about which provider you choose or which type of cloud you choose. Although most providers are very diligent of complying with laws, these laws may differ around the world and may be punishable. For example, because the cloud networks store data in many locations to provide more security, your company data may be stored in a country illegally. For those dealing with extra-sensitive information like healthcare or financial services, a private cloud dedicated to the use of a single organization may be more expensive but worthwhile.
Do the pros of Cloud outweigh the cons?
With consideration of the benefits and flaws, generally, the cloud is the best option for any-sized business. With cloud working on the principles of a shared network controlled by the expert service providers like Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, IBM and Google, there are mutually realized benefits. The major benefit is that economies of scale are developed leading to lowered costs and saved time. Additionally, not needing to staff an IT team responsible for the upkeep of in-house servers keeps teams lean and efficient. In cases when dealing with sensitive information, an in-house server may give physical control over your backup, albeit at the sizeable capital investment required for infrastructure, hardware, and maintenance.