What businesses need to know before getting into the cloud.
In recent years cloud computing has received a lot of hype. Many IT organizations are succeding with cloud computing while others flounder. While the cloud provides some great advantages for many organizations it also has its pitfalls such as availability, latency, and rigid components. This article talk about the pros and cons of cloud computing from different people within the organization.
By Greg Vojtko, via Wikimedia Commons
ProsIT managers look to cloud computing for many reason. It can help reduce the IT burden to be experts on all of their systems. It can offset the need to purchase new hardware. It can help them focus on the it assets that are important to the company rather than spend time dealing with peripheral systems such as email. Many small to medium sized companies do not have the financial resources to hire a person who is an expert on all of there various systems. Rather they hire IT people who are generalist. They may also not have the resources to pay for a secure data center with guards and security audits. Some cloud providers offer geographic redundancy to alleviate the impact of a natural disaster. Some cloud providers automatically scale their services to meet the needs of the client. For IT managers to do this without cloud computing they would have to have excess servers on hand to meet the variable need.
ConsFor IT Managers the risk in using cloud computing is in the responsiveness to handle IT issues. SLA's in cloud computing favors the cloud provider. IT teams are often called upon to handle emergencies. With cloud computing the cloud computing provider determines what constitutes an emergency. An issue that kept the IT team at the company all night to fix the issue may now have a 72 hour response time for the problem email to be responded to.
Hero or VillainIT people are often called upon to be the hero of the organization. They will often stay late or work weekends to make sure that the companies IT system are working. Many business people expect a certain level of service from their IT people. Cloud computing is essentially outsourcing a part of IT. The level of service is determined by the cloud provider and the SLA. In cloud computing each company does not negotiate its SLA with the cloud provider. The cloud provider generally writes a SLA that favors keeping their systems inexpensive and not liable for damages.
If expectations are not set with the business the IT team can seem like the villein. Problems with the cloud systems are submitted to the cloud provider and often times the IT worker can do no more until they receive a response. If the expectation of the business is that the IT workers will stay late and work weekends to fix the problem and instead IT submits a request to the cloud provider and wait 72 hours there may be hurt feelings. Also with custom systems provide greater flexibility and capability of what IT can do. Cloud systems are often rigid and fixed in what they can do. This often causes IT to say no to business requests or take a long time to develop a work around.
IT workers need to be versed in numerous systems. They need people who are knowledgeable in such dynamic fields as computer repair, networking, email systems, database systems, websites, and all of the custom software that the company bought such as as SharePoint and MSCRM. Cloud computing can free IT workers from maintaining systems that are not core to the business. Not all cloud systems are maintenance free. Some cloud systems are complex and require administrators who are versed on them; creating an additional burden on IT workers.
The key to understanding the impact of cloud computing on IT is in reading the documentation before starting a cloud project. Business should be aware of the limitations that cloud computing can create. Business should also be aware that they are outsourcing part of their IT and that they must live with the customer service stated within the SLA. Finally, the cloud systems should be evaluated to see if it frees IT up or creates additional needs on IT.