While cloud computing offers a wide range of advantages for businesses, it also comes with some potential pitfalls as well. Many companies have opted for a hybrid between cloud based services and traditional storage options. Making the complete leap, however, is a massive undertaking.
So before you make a decision, Baltimore-based freelance writer and ultimate tech enthusiast Joe Peters shares five important questions you need to answer before making the move.
Cloud computing is almost completely dependent on the speed and reliability of your internet connection. While your network may be sufficient to handle the occasional upload of a large file or two by more than one employee at the same time, it may not be able to handle the demands of your entire office all downloading and uploading information at the same time. If your internet were to go down completely for any reason, your employees would also lose all access to company data. In addition, your cloud service provider can also run into issues on their end that can also keep you from accessing your company data.
In the short term, cloud computing can actually be a huge money saver. Almost all cloud-based services are subscription based, so you don’t need a huge capital investment up front for licenses and infrastructure. In addition, you don’t need an IT department to run it because solving technical issues is handled by the provider. However, you are somewhat at the mercy of the provider to not significantly raise subscription rates. In addition, while the inbound transfer of data to the cloud is generally free, outbound data or download transfers beyond a basic monthly allowance are often charges on a per GB basis. If your business involves transferring large amounts of data into and out of the cloud, you might consider exploring other options.
One of the key stumbling blocks for most businesses when it comes to migrating to the cloud has been data safety. Conversely, however, recent large-scale hacks have made it questionable just how safe traditional storage methods are either. Companies with highly sensitive data may still need their own IT departments to keep data safe, which also adds to the issue of cost effectiveness. If your business doesn’t deal with a great deal of sensitive data or have an IT team to set robust security measures in place, however, your data may actually be safer with most cloud service providers.
Cloud-based computing inherently offers up a greater potential for remote work. While some businesses fear this can have an effect on team morale, in reality, remote teams are often more efficient and accomplish more due to less distraction. Cloud-based storage solutions allow employees to access files from home, while traveling on business or anywhere they have an internet connection. Cloud computing can also help decrease redundant processes and allow for faster information gathering and decision making.
Remember that in many ways you will be putting your entire business in the hands of your cloud service provider. While price is, of course, important, what is even more important is the size, age and reputation of your provider. While a newer service may give you a great deal, this might not be the time to take such a risk just to save some money. You will also want to look at how much training your staff may need to use the new derive and what kind of security and protocols they have in place to safely secure and store your data. In particular you will want to know exactly how to get your data back if you choose to switch suppliers.
Cloud-based computing is most likely the wave of the future, but businesses are right to take care before diving in with both feet. Both the security and stability of the cloud have come a long way in the last decade and more and more industry giants are making the leap. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s yet right for every business. While it may be right for you, it’s still important to tread cautiously and think twice before taking the leap.
Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate tech enthusiast. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie enjoys reading about latest apps and gadgets and binge-watching his favorite TV shows. You can reach him @bmorepeters