You can’t step into the tech world without hearing something about the cloud. “It’s so cheap!” “You can access your data from a submarine!” “All you have to do is sign up!” “Once you’re there, you’ve made it to Valhalla!”
The conversation is certainly warranted, but there are several key points missing; we all know about the potential benefits of the cloud, but what are the challenges that you may encounter if you go that route?
While you’re less likely to catch headlines about this topic, it’s generally the first thing out of our clients’ mouths when they begin considering a cloud migration. Below we’ve summarized the main problems that are inherent to cloud computing to help you make an informed decision, and to help provide some balance to the conversation.
What are the problems with cloud computing?
Here are the main challenges to be aware of before you make the leap into a fully-hosted environment:
- “Out of sight” cannot mean “out of mind.” One of the main draws of the cloud is that the computing takes place at a datacenter off-site. If you outsource, your IT provider will then be responsible for maintaining the servers and replacing them when the time comes. This does not mean that you can completely abandon your internal network. You still need anti-virus. You still need a spam filter. You still need a redundant, robust, updated firewall. You need the appropriate bandwidth to handle the increased traffic to your Internet. So, while much of your IT burden will be supplanted, if you ignore your technology completely you’re in for some trouble.
- Your network is in someone else’s hands. When you move to the cloud, you are essentially surrendering your network and data to your cloud provider. You are trusting that they’re going to maintain their servers, keep your data secure, put the proper redundancies in place, respond immediately in the event of any hiccups, and provide transparent and consistent support across the board. Some providers will do this. Others will not.
- Implementation is costly. Migrating an entire organization into a cloud environment is an extremely complicated, detailed process. Who’s going to do it for you? Some providers will send you a list of instructions—then you’ll pay with your time. Other providers will complete the migration for you. From planning to final testing, this can take over 80 hours of engineering labor. Think 5 figures.
- You generally won't see significant cost savings. Cloud computing is often touted as a cost-saving solution, but this really isn't the case on the corporate side of the coin. The main benefit you'll see is avoiding the large capital expense of server upgrade projects, and switching your IT budget to a predictable operating expense. But you're not going to offload your entire IT burden onto a cloud provider and see a lower monthly invoice.
Needless to say, you can’t blindly buy into all of the hype surrounding cloud computing. While in many cases the cloud does provide impressive benefits, the transition absolutely will not be quick and easy (and anyone who tells you it will be is lying to your face).
If you’re thinking of making the leap, don’t lose sight of these four points; as they say, all that glitters is not gold.