There is an ongoing discussion in the IT and business world around the value of cloud. Much of it is focused on cost reduction.
There is plenty of evidence to support reduction in cost as the chief motivator to go to cloud, but should it be? Rarely has the virtue of new technology (and granted that cloud is only arguably new) been simply predicated on its ability to lower cost. That might be an overall justification to a CEO or CFO, and yes most businesses try and run as cost effectively as possible.
But what governs the other parts of a business decision? In the end, cost is only a part of the consideration, albeit a major one. Where cloud computing is concerned, yes, there are cost savings, but you will have to pay for the service to use them, and as you grow, reality dictates that so will your costs, even at the most discounted cloud provider you can find.
So what are the real reasons to go cloud?
As major differentiator for any business, technical superiority can be the difference in your business moving forward, or simply staying where it is. The reality is that unless you have a 150+ person in-house IT team, you probably don’t have a guy (or girl) who is an expert for any given situation. Cloud providers have to have the range of skills and technical knowledge to handle client requirements. Since most cloud providers work for many different kinds of clients, their ability to handle the range of needs is always being tested. So they probably have a little broader exposure than even your top in-house people.
Security or Death
If a cloud isn’t secure, the a cloud provider loses business. The emphasis on this is a real one, and shouldn’t be ignored. You should ask all the pertinent questions, but know that where security, and compliance, are concerned, cloud providers aren’t messing around. In fact, their processes can often augment your own, especially where audits are concerned. Aping a cloud provider can sometimes be your business’ fastest path to compliant infrastructure with minimal effort on your part.
Cloud is the playground for the company looking to innovate. With cloud infrastructure resources, once you have a new app to test, you can easily provision resources to ensure that it runs well, can handle demand and can meet performance requirements. All this can be achieved easily in the cloud, both with IaaS, and perhaps more effectively even with PaaS offerings.
Related to development, getting your app to market quickly can help a business unit justify expense, generate new revenue and even enter new markets faster than ever before. As an expression of innovation, cloud is the platform of choice to move new products out into the market more quickly and more confidently. Even if a product fails, cloud can mitigate its impact by quickly scaling down resources. If one product blows up, or a web property becomes hot, redistributing resources is a simple automated task, which can ensure demand is met without straining costs.
Long-Term Cost Savings
Yes, we had to mention costs. But in this case, its not simply what you save by switching, its how cloud alters how you consider money at all for you business. In sports, they often say the best defense is offense. Well in business, the best defense is success. And the path to success is playing smart. Cloud is a smart decision, the cost savings of initially switching are nothing compared to the long term evolution your business can experience. Not simply do you have the opportunity to move away from CapEx output on a regular basis. You also are able to reduce operation costs by having the broad array of vendor relationships and needs streamlined through the cloud provider. Also streamlined are your hiring requirements, associated HR requirements and legal fees. In the end, whatever technical staff you have can stay – just refocus them on innovation rather than upkeep.
So the real result of switching to cloud is a new platform to drive growth, not simply to cut costs. And in the end, cutting costs is not always a guarantee of growth. Innovation, however, is especially in a business context.
By Jake Gardner