(This post originally appeared on AVG)
Everyone’s talking about the cloud nowadays so you’ve got to consider it, right? It enables companies to be more flexible and save on their IT costs. It allows free and easy access to data for employees from wherever they are, using whatever devices they want to use. A recent survey by accounting software maker MYOB finds that small businesses that adopt cloud technologies enjoy higher revenues. Another analysis finds that small businesses are losing money as a result of ineffective IT management that could be much improved by the use of cloud based services. And another poll of more than 1,200 small businesses by technology reseller CDW found that “…cloud users cite cost savings, increased efficiency and greater innovation as key benefits” and that “…across all industries, storage and conferencing and collaboration are the top cloud services and applications.”
For many companies, particularly startups, small companies, virtual firms and organizations with remote employees, cloud based technologies make a lot of sense. And it also makes sense that the more popular ones are the ones that provide storage and collaboration –these are easy to setup and not as mission critical. There are a lot of myths about cloud computing in 2013 that just aren’t true. Here are some of the more common ones I hear from my clients.
“It’s cheaper and cost beneficial.” This may be true if you’re a startup or are migrating to a relatively inexpensive cloud application. But if you have existing applications and you decide to move your entire organization to a cloud based infrastructure you’ll likely pay about $100 per month per user. That’s exactly what I’ve been seeing and that’s a lot more expensive than just buying a new server and having an IT guy service it for a few hours a month. There are many inexpensive cloud based applications but the more robust, the higher the monthly fees. And if you add up the monthly fees over a 5-7 year period and compare it just buying an application you’ll see that you could be likely paying more. I expect the costs of the cloud to continue to decrease over time, but for now it could be more expensive.
“I can connect anywhere, anytime.” The reality is you’re not as mobile as you think. That’s because to use the cloud effectively you need internet access. And depending on where you are this is easier said than done. Many places say they offer free Wi-Fi but sometimes it’s so slow it’s almost not worth doing the work. It’s not uncommon, particularly for a business traveler, to hit dead spots and experience agonizingly slow speeds which can really hurt productivity. Internet access and speeds continue to improve, but they haven’t caught up with the functionality that a lot of advanced cloud based apps offer. Many of my clients experience frustration with this.
“My data is less secure.” If any cloud provider tells you that your data is 100% secure than they’re lying to you. Nothing is 100%. But I’m going to bet that your data hosted on their server is way more secure than in your own internal environment. That’s because successful companies who offer cloud based services and who want to continue being successful build their business models around data connectivity and security. They will always be using the latest security applications and have more security resources deployed than you could ever hope. Breaches will happen, but I favor the security of cloud companies over my IT guy.
“My service provider is guaranteeing me a long term, flat, monthly fee.” True. For the time being. But my biggest question about cloud application is how much you will allow your business to become dependent on the cloud provider. How much are you willing to relinquish control over that “flat monthly fee.” What if your cloud services provider decides to increase it 10%? What can you do? What’s your recourse? Are you going to move yourself off of their platform and go through the inconvenience of finding another solution? Or will you opt to self-manage your cloud applications? Nothing ever stands still for long in IT. Nothing.