by Jeremy Beck.
Cloud computing continues to mature. It is big business with many companies now offering cloud based services and solutions. For example, Microsoft has invested billions in cloud based infrastructure and awareness. There are many advantages to the cloud but there are some potential disadvantages as well that need to be realized before making a transition. The Cloud can be a wonderful solution but it can have some drawbacks as well, in this article I will detail several of both.
- Almost Unlimited Storage………Storing information in the cloud gives you almost unlimited storage capacity. This avoids worrying about running out of storage space or increasing your current storage space availability when it’s needed.
- Enhanced Backup and Recovery………Since all your data is stored in the cloud, backing it up and restoring the same is easier than storing the data on a physical storage device. Furthermore, most providers are efficient enough to handle recovery of your information. This makes the entire process of backup and recovery much simpler than other traditional methods of data backup and storage.
- Automatic Software Integration……..In the cloud, software integration is relatively simple. Generally you can handpick those services and software applications that will best suit your particular needs.
- Mobility…….access from anywhere. Whether it’s your development platform, office tools or custom content management systems, cloud mobility enables access from anywhere with an internet connection.
- Scalability……..This is a big benefit. You can scale your infrastructure up and down according to demand, however that flexibility does come with a cost (see list of disadvantages).
- Limited Upfront Hardware Investment…….. The cloud can limit your upfront costs for traditional hardware components like servers and data storage devices.
- Security, privacy and compliance…..security can be a concern in the cloud, if you manage confidential patient data. Compliance in the cloud may also be an issue, which might require deploying a private cloud to better protect sensitive data. Question: will a third party have your best interest in mind when it comes to your sensitive data? The argument that the cloud is insecure is still raging…as you are aware there have been many data breaches involving huge companies with no shortage of IT expertise and plenty of money to invest in security. The FBI says it is 250 + days before an entity knows they have been hacked. That’s a lot of time for hackers to lay their web. This could potentially put your practice in great risk. This demands that you make absolutely sure that you choose the most reliable service provider, who will keep your information totally secure. That may be tough.
- Technical Issues………You should be aware of the fact that this technology is always prone to outages and other technical issues just like any other type of service. Even the best cloud service providers run into this kind of trouble even in spite of keeping up high standards of maintenance. Besides, you will need a very good Internet connection to be logged onto the server at all times. Losing internet connectivity is never fun, and is always an inconvenience for anyone involved. You will invariably be stuck in case of network and connectivity problems.
- Compatibility…..Making sure every existing tool, software and computer is compatible with the Web based service, platform or infrastructure can be a challenge. While on-site IT may have a little more control in managing integration and compatibility, it is often “what you see is what you get” in the cloud. For example, many offices have made the switch to the cloud and then found watching training videos, listening to streaming audio, or accessing webinars to be much more difficult to manage than previously expected.
- Scalability…….this flexibility comes with a cost…..the cost per hour for a cloud server can actually be greater than the average hourly cost of a server when it is amortized over its lifespan. This means that, for some companies, with certain computational workloads, it might actually make more sense to run those workloads internally rather than putting them on the cloud. In a recent situation, we encountered a practice that was debating keeping their email in the cloud versus bringing their email in-house. Ultimately they decided to move it in-house. Why? Because over a four year period they were going to save almost $15,000. These factors need to be evaluated and calculated before making any long term decisions.
- Unpredictable costs……Sure, the cloud can substantially reduce staff and hardware costs, but the price could end up being more than you budgeted. Migrating to the cloud is also a potential understated cost, and making sure your current systems that support your business are managed effectively while moving to the cloud could raise operating costs substantially.
Ultimately, a move to the cloud must be considered by companies like any other major change in technology: the benefits and drawbacks need to be weighed against each other and evaluated diligently. Just as in other Information Technology shifts, there will be situations where it makes sense and situations where it doesn’t. Recognizing this doesn’t weaken the cloud advocates position, but rather helps them display a maturity of thought that will be ever more important as the cloud continues to evolve.
IT 4 the Planet is a provider in professional Information Technology solutions to clients in the southeast. We provide both cloud solutions and standard on premise infrastructure. Bottom line for us….we try to find the best option for the client!