This guest post has been written by Simon Sharkey from the company Bryan S. Ryan, a specialist in print and business technology. The company recently exhibited at the IPPN conference and spoke with us about cloud technology. This is their take on cloud computing from a business perspective. It certainly makes interesting reading and is well balanced.
The Cloud defined: Think of the Cloud as a Wide Area Network linking organisations and businesses running mismatched protocols at disparate speeds to connect users and applications connected to several LANs. That any system can overcome the conflicts in such a marriage of technologies merely emphasises the marvel of the Cloud.
The concerns most frequently raised by organisations contemplating switching their operations to the Cloud are almost always the same;
- will it save us money?
- will our data be safe?
- are connection speeds fast enough?
- is it right for our type of business?
The short answers to these questions, in the same order, are;
- not necessarily
- definitely – with the right cloud provider
The answer to the first question (will it save us money?) comes as a jolt to many potential Cloud customers, since big-name vendors have generally touted cost-savings almost as a ‘given’.
However, analysis by Bryan S Ryan over the years has shown that, while the Cloud frequently does cut operating costs, it can also work out more expensive – in some cases by as much as 60% over a five-year period.
Our policy is to always put the customer’s wellbeing first. So, when approached by a company thinking of migrating to the Cloud, our first step is to analyse the organisation’s needs and to establish whether these are best suited to the Cloud or, alternatively, to on-premise operation. We then advise the customer according to what’s best for them, highlighting the pros and cons in a detailed report.
After cost, the next most frequently asked question is about data security. Many companies still use tape backup systems in the belief that this is as good as it gets. But, as some have learnt to their cost, mechanical tape drives occasionally jam, the tape’s magnetic coating degrades (flakes off) over time, and stretched tape can render data irretrievable.
By contrast, data consigned to the Cloud is stored on server disks and automatically replicated to other servers in another geographical location, ensuring that the information remains safe from floods, earthquakes and other disasters.
In addition, the stored data is hopefully protected by firewalls against hacker intrusion.
Despite these seemingly ironclad assurances, widespread doubts persist about the advisability of placing commercially sensitive data at the mercy of a third party, and some organisations will perhaps always find the concept unacceptable.
Prompt access to stored data is another area for concern. If a European company’s data is stored on a server in the US, has the client access to this data 24×7 and if so is the 24×7 support sufficient to cover all levels of support that might be required?
Connectivity is the next biggest concern for potential Cloud customers. If the broadband infrastructure in your area is weak and temperamental the same will be mirrored in your cloud experience. Ensure that the bandwidth and reliability required to run Cloud are there before doing anything else.
Bottlenecks are frequently down to network capability at the endpoint and to the user’s applications being unable to handle latency. If your applications require significant resources to run efficiently, chances are that hosting such applications in the Cloud will see your company and productivity within this application running into trouble.
For these reasons, it is essential to choose a vendor that will put your business before their profits and ensure your organisation gets the setup it needs.
Conclusion: The Cloud empowers small and medium sized companies to access hi-tech solutions normally associated only with larger organisations. It does this by reducing hardware overheads, cutting or removing the need for in-house IT staff, scaling down energy usage, improving communication and ensuring data security.
The bottom line? Take care to choose a partner that will do what’s best for your organisation and has the experience and expertise to smooth the way ahead.