The Cloud Option: Factors To Consider

Sudhir Narasimhan

In today’s demanding business environment enterprises are looking to optimize their resources, minimize costs while maximizing productivity returns. Considering that IT deployment has a significant cost associated with it, organizations are looking for cost effective alternatives to building and managing expensive on-premise infrastructure. Cloud services are emerging as an alternative to expensive On-premise solutions.

Here are some of the most commonly cited benefits associated with cloud adoption.   

Low Costs/Investments:  Hosting your applications on cloud is expected to save you the high costs of hardware and software licensing you would otherwise incur in an on-premise deployment. Cloud service providers are also expected to offer a wide range of functionalities that might include back up and recovery features and automatic integration, which should further reduce costs.

Scalability and Agility:  Cloud should help your organization scale up rapidly when the demand peaks. You can also extend your operations into new regions with ease and with minimal upfront investments. On-premise will require large investments and you may not be able to optimally utilize the enhanced capacity at a later stage.

Operational Flexibility:  As a cloud application hosts the data externally it will be easier for organizations to provide access to third parties and outsource portions of non-core operations.

Innovation: We haven’t yet come across cases where organizations that have moved lock, stock and barrel into a cloud environment have turned great innovators. But the assumption is that On-premise applications could be a barrier to innovation and cloud, as it takes away the burden of management, can free people to look at innovative ways of getting work done.

While the advantages of cloud look great, at least on paper, there are many questions that need to be addressed before you decide to bite the bullet.

Cost of ownership: Paying for the application as you use it may sound very economical. But as your data grows, your bandwidth requirement will also increase proportionally.  Costs associated with software licenses and upgrades will also add up. You may also need to invest to upgrade devices, browsers and communication systems to be able to access the services effectively. Consequently it is possible that your cloud services may end up being more expensive over the long term.

Location Requirement: Many companies require the data to be located within the geographical location they are operating in. If your cloud service provider does not have his data center in the regions where your organization has operations you have a constraint

Is the application available offline? : One of the advantages of hosting an application on cloud is that it can be accessed on browser from anywhere. While we take Internet connectivity for granted, there may be places where connectivity is not available. So, if the cloud application can be accessed only online you have a problem.

Security: You need to consider whether your service provider’s security is up to the requirements of your company. Even if it is, how do you know he has not outsourced the hosting to another third party?  You should also evaluate the service provider from a back up and disaster recovery perspective

Support:  It is important to ensure that the service provider guarantees you the same level of support you are used to in an On-premise environment. Your SLA should be designed to cover this aspect in detail, including penalties if the service provider fails to meet your expectations.

Finally, you should also take into account the credibility of the cloud vendor. Is it an established player with sound finances and a good track record with customers? Is the vendor worthy of a long-term partnership?  Remember, you are betting your company’s information assets on the vendor.  Only when you have the answers to all these questions can you consider moving your application from your premises to the cloud.