Cloud computing– What’s not to love? The cloud offers increased computing power and efficiency at a decreased cost. Why is there resistance?
The cloud is undeniably the future of computing. Technology departments know costly data centers are a thing of the past. However, some businesses are still holding onto their old servers. Increasingly, companies who are not using the cloud will be left behind when it comes to the efficiencies afforded to them by pay-per-use strategies and volume economics of the cloud. It will become very difficult for a company to justify not being in the cloud, due to the flexibility and security of the system. In a recent GigaOM blog, Peter Coffee of Salesforce.com argues the age of the on-premises company server is a thing of the past. “This is no longer just a matter of doing things a little more cheaply, or a little less painfully, by doing them in the cloud. It’s bigger than that. Today, running your business on private servers is on the same level of odd behavior as carrying scuba tanks to provide a private air supply. Does it give you more control of exactly what you breathe? Certainly, but can you make a business case for all that excess weight? Going forward, the notion of owning your own server farm is looking equally eccentric.” Eccentric? What business would like to be known as eccentric? “We live on a fully connected planet, surrounded by tasks that increasingly demand immediate scalable access to rich processing power–mediated by ubiquitous networks,” writes Coffee. “No new company starts out with a budget line item of ‘buy servers’; even in the largest enterprises, few today would want to risk joining the hall of shame for managers who build over-budget and under-performing server farms, instead of marshalling modern cloud services to solve the problem.” In fact, forward-thinking businesses should consider clouds as a core deployment option within their formal budgets. One of the biggest benefits of the cloud is the ability to pay for what you need when you need it. This flexible structure ensures a company does not have extra, unused computing power. These efficient systems keep information backed-up, so there is no chance of the data loss which may occur in a private server.
Fear of the Cloud
While the benefits of the cloud may be clearly accepted, the fear of the unknown keeps many companies from fully committing to the cloud. Often one of the biggest roadblocks to the cloud is not technology, it is the internal culture of an organization. With the inevitable migration to the cloud looming, management needs to determine how it can make the transition as smooth as possible for the company and its workers. According to David Linthicum in a recent article on the topic, he suggests the only way to lead doubters to accept the cloud is to get them involved in the process. “Changing the hearts and minds around the use of any technology is a process that begins with engaging everyone in the evaluation and implementation of the technology.” He recommends creating small teams of cloud skeptics and asking them to investigate the project themselves. The act of research is an empowering psychological factor for these cloud naysayers. Being given the option “to be heard” by the company, will increase their desire to look into the cloud honestly and in-depth. This secondary research team may also uncover or predict unanticipated issues which may cause an implementation team to alter/change its cloud plans.
Loss of Control
Even though many companies understand the benefits of the cloud, the psychological ability to “let go” of the data is a large hurdle. Information in a cloud is completely secure, teams of IT professionals protect the information. In fact, in 2013 the CIA picked Amazon Web Services to create a $600 million cloud computing project. If the federal government endorses the cloud to that extent, businesses should be able find value in it as well. Organizations with different locations or who use outsourcing partners should embrace the cloud because they will actually have more control over their data. Outsourcing or even real-time collaboration through the cloud means the data produced at multiple locations will already exist in the company system. This means there will never be issues with data transfer and the systems can all be in sync. These systems will be more efficient because the computing power is flexible and the business is not required to maintain multiple facilities at different locations. How much will an IT department need to change in order to leverage cloud computing? When working with a cloud-based system, an IT department gives up actual ownership and management of the system, yet is still responsible for it from a business standpoint. With actual maintenance no longer a job for local IT, security, monitoring, and management will increase in importance. While IT professionals will lose control of one aspect of data management, their jobs will be more integral to company success than ever. The vast computing abilities of the cloud can help organizations turn large amounts of stored data into cohesive information—information which is helpful for all aspects of business development. Cloud computing helps companies save time and money while simultaneously increasing standardization and flexibility. All businesses should take a closer look at what the cloud has to offer before making any new investments in their on-premises company servers.