Off to the Cloud?

In board rooms and around conference tables, in corner offices and in planning meetings, the conversation about whether to move to the cloud is one that is happening every day.  You may have asked yourself if you should move your business to the cloud.  Many are just asking, “What is the cloud?”

It sounds appealing, the Cloud.  For the sake of having a clear operational discussion about whether it is practical and value-added for you and your business, let’s discuss the cloud by its former name, hosted servers or hosted infrastructure.

I realize that reframing the mental image, from a fluffy white cloud floating weightless to that of a cold sterile data center with rows and rows of server and switch racks strips the abstract, and possibly alluring, softness from the vision.  Decisions that you make for your business should be made in the cold-light of day.  They have impact on your company and its bottom line and they should be influenced by clarity and determined by whether the features and benefits of a potential new approach are in alignment with your value-proposition.

Shall we begin?

Hosted services are not a bad thing.  With the increases in the speed of broadband internet, many of us are using applications and industry-specific software that are web-based, hosted.  What is at hand is whether everything that you do, all of your programs and all of your data, should be stored outside your premises, on a third-party’s hard drives, and accessed via the internet.

The consideration to move entirely to a hosted infrastructure is largely based on your business model, IT budget, down-time sustainability and philosophy.  There are legitimate factors to consider; and your trusted technology individual, team or provider should be solicited for their advice.

A hosted solution can be liberating and in some cases, more resilient.  It can diminish your IT hardware footprint, reduce your energy demand and lower your expense on IT personnel and vendors.  Having your servers hosted can add the promise of increased up-time.

This sounds very appealing; for some, there is every appearance that it is a viable alternative.  Whomever you turn to for your technological guidance can assist with a modest cost-benefit analysis and a review of the effect on the operation.

Alternatively, efficiency and durability need not be sacrificed by maintaining an owned environment.  Many business owners are sincerely averse to placing their company’s data outside their control.  Additionally, the recurring expense of a hosted solution can far exceed that of an owned infrastructure.  Much has evolved in technology; the systems that large data centers use are available to small- and medium-size businesses at reasonable cost.  At issue is total cost of ownership and what fits your company’s needs.

Have a clear conversation about what’s involved, costs and in the end . . . what’s right for your business.  Without an understanding of the potential gains and impacts, an informed decision is merely speculation.  Asking questions is the best first step.

– Originally published: The Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce, Chamber Chatter Magazine, September-October 2015 Issue