The Pros and Cons of the Cloud

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The cloud, visualized.

If you’re working your way through the challenges of running a business, you’ve probably heard about the cloud at some point, maybe even read some of the previous articles in this series. Odds are good that you’ve thought about moving certain aspects of your business to some sort of cloud-based system, and have heard some things about how cloud computing reduces costs and impacts productivity. But if you haven’t already decided on which path to take your business down, you may find yourself trying to weigh the pros and cons of cloud computing. If so, then keep reading. This article is intended to help you answer the question: “Is the cloud right for you?”

What is the Cloud?

One of the first steps in asking the question ‘is the cloud right for you?’ is making sure you understand what the cloud actually is. “Cloud” refers to any type of internet-based computing where a service is delivered to users through the internet, but in practice, cloud computing takes on one of three types: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). Each of those three types comes with its own benefits and challenges, all of which need to be considered before you make the decision to move your business over to this model.

So, what’s the big deal? Why is the cloud so useful, and why might it be something to consider? Well…

How the Cloud Can Help You

First of all, cloud computing has already been shown to help businesses make profits. It’s most commonly touted as a way to save money, and organizations using the cloud claim nearly double the revenue growth and about 2.5 times higher gross profits compared to that of their competitors, but those aren’t the only things cloud computing brings to the table. When asking ‘is the cloud right for you?’, you should also take into account the rest of these benefits.

The cloud provides increased access to advanced mobile, social, Big Data, and analytic resources, allowing for users to become more connected. Mobile access allows users to access their data online at any time, with unprecedented levels of portability, and social aspects include access to social networks, an important resource for marketing and recruiting. Access to the analytics used to process Big Data and to the data itself allow users to predict trends and capitalize on immediate opportunities. And, of course, there’s also the competitive advantage to having faster access to the newest technology and the relief that comes with being able to start small and, in some cases, not even have to maintain and patch the software being used. Any and all of these things would be helpful for a business, but used correctly, the cloud can bring them all to the table.

It always helps to have a couple plans.The Cost

So, is the cloud right for you? After reading the points above, you might be thinking so, but don’t forget to consider the cost. Like everything in life, cloud computing has its challenges. For example, data center migrations tend to be disruptive and complicated, not to mention expensive. Before moving to a cloud-based system, you have to consider the disruption the move will cause, and ask yourself whether or not it’s worth it. The cloud tends to be costly too, with some of its more comprehensive services costing about $100 per user per month (approximately $12,000 per year), and it has had its fair share of security concerns. It would probably be inadvisable to use the cloud if you’re processing sensitive data, such as anything that falls under the Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA). In addition, if your operations require hardware components specific to your company, cloud computing may not be the best fit. You have to be willing to give up some direct control over the system, which, depending on your circumstances, you may prefer to retain. Consider your own company’s needs before making a decision. Not all data needs to be online, and some data simply shouldn’t be online.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article has been helpful in helping you weigh the pros and cons of cloud computing and examine them in the context of your business, however, this article should not be the end of your research. Go out, look up more sources, think about it some more and get a few more opinions. Hopefully at the end of the day, you’ll be able to answer that question.

Is the cloud right for you?

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