Potential benefits of the cloud
Cloud technology, with its different options and potential setups, offers enough flexibility to provide value to many different types of organizations. Some of the benefits of cloud storage are:
1) There is no direct dependency on any single server or piece of hardware which makes it easier to ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster
2) Additional storage or server space is available as needed with no specific action required while over provisioning is avoided in a pay-as-you-go model
3) Access to entire storage and server pool can be accessed from a single point
General considerations when moving to the cloud
At the same time, it is important to be aware of potential pitfalls and to prioritize requirements. Some important considerations are:
1) Although the ability of the cloud to provide data redundancy across multiple and disparate servers can give great confidence to users, you also need to allow for the worst-case scenario where your cloud provider goes out of business and takes access to your data along.
This is a possibility that needs to be covered in the Service Level Agreement (SLA) with a specific remediation process detailed in order to minimize the waiting time for compensation was the worst to happen.
2) It is important to ensure that the provider you choose can meet your key requirements to the specified level. These requirements will vary depending on industry and location of the business but will likely include compliance, security, data handling and recovery. It is also important to ask your vendor about business critical issues such as availability, security and compensation from the start.
The best way to understand a provider’s capability is to look at its track record and to request referrals from clients. And, just to be on the safe side, ensure that you have an alternative provider to whom you can migrate with certain ease should requirements not be met at some point by your current vendor.
3) It is relatively easy to understand how moving from on-premises software to a SaaS model will affect your internal IT and support requirements since the external provider will support every aspect of the software deployment, management and access.
It may not be as easy to fully gauge the impact of moving to an IaaS model. Although all aspects of the infrastructure should be covered by your provider, you are still responsible for monitoring, managing and developing your on-demand infrastructure.
4) Software licensing may be a difficult topic. An example of a company that has already ‘ported’ its licensing agreements to its cloud offering is Microsoft with its Office 365 product. But the license document is longer and more complex to understand than the licenses offered with traditional Microsoft products, which tend to be quite complex already.
In any case, many companies do not yet have fully developed licensing agreements for their cloud products meaning that the agreements may not cover all possible product configurations or all possible deployment locations.
Financial considerations when moving to the cloud
There are also some specific financial considerations that need to be taken into account and that will help you focus your analysis around the benefits and drawbacks of cloud technology.
Below is a table comparing how some key financial factors play in an on-premise model versus a cloud computing model.
The focus of this post was to give readers a general overview of some key considerations when analyzing, designing and negotiating their cloud setup. Next week’s post will walk us through how to incorporate all these considerations in the different legal agreements necessary to seal the deal.
1) The Ultimate Guide to Cloud Computing - MagBook, Cloud Pro - www.magbooks.com - @DennisMagBooks
2) IDC Blog
4) PC Mag series of articles titled 'What is Cloud Computing?'
5) Forrester Research - 'Talking to your CFO about Cloud Computing'