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The Pros and Cons of Cloud Computing

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EJ Phillips

As a small business owner, you want to make sure your IT resources are supporting your business as efficiently and effectively as possible. Cloud computing is the delivery of on-demand computing services -- from applications to storage and processing power -- over the internet and on a pay-as-you-go or month to month subscription basis. It includes a wide range of computing services such as servers, storage, databases, networking, software, and analytics. According to a study by 451 Research, close to 90% of companies, particularly those at the enterprise level, utilize cloud computing services. Cloud computing is here to stay, but to help you decide if it is the right option for your business, it is good to weigh the pros and cons.

What are the Pros and Cons of Cloud Computing?

Pros

1. Minimal Upfront Investment

In-house data storage can be pricey. There is the up-front investment of purchasing new servers as well as the cost of installing them. There is also the additional cost to ensure that the equipment is properly maintained and backed up regularly. As well as the cost of space and power to keep equipment at the appropriate temperature. Additionally, cloud computing can be a huge money saver when it comes to energy consumption, sometimes reducing energy consumption by as much as 90%.

Even when you invest in the best equipment, something can always go wrong due to human error. If your team is the one responsible for installation and maintenance, and they make a mistake, there’s no one to turn to for support. With cloud computing, the headache associated with maintaining in-house systems disappears as you have the support of your service provider. Because the cost of infrastructure is included in your plan and split among all the service provider’s clients, you save money.

According to the Global Cloud Services Market report, organizations that use cloud computing services save more than 35 percent on operating costs each year.

2. Flexible and Scalable

Often businesses have seasonal growth. With cloud computing, because you only pay for the users and storage you need and there is no investment in the ownership of equipment, scaling for growth is as simple as calling your cloud storage services provider and having them increase capacity. And as opposed to the weeks you might have to wait if you had to order and install more equipment, this growth can occur with cloud computing in a matter of minutes. Growing with the cloud also has a predictable cost, eliminating the risks of investing in additional storage infrastructure. Cloud computing empowers your organization to remain agile in an ever changing business landscape. Cloud computing also provides greater workforce flexibility as workers are not tied down to a particular location. Any internet-enabled device can be used to access and share critical documents.

3. Collaboration is Made Easy

With more and more businesses operating remotely or providing some type of work from home option, cloud computing has become a necessity. In fact, studies show that roughly 1 in 4 Americans work from home and estimates are that this pandemic trend is here to stay.

Cloud computing allows data to be accessed by any authorized user from any location through the internet. Multiple users from multiple locations in multiple departments can access the same document in real time, driving efficiency, productivity, and collaboration.

Pros & Cons of Cloud Computing

4. Security and Reliability

Loss of data can significantly impact your business. You might lose critical information which can cost you a huge sum of money, waste your valuable time and adversely impact your brand image. Cloud computing can enable better business continuity and enable faster disaster recovery. With cloud computing, you can automatically backup all the data to the cloud on a regular basis. This helps you to recover any data in case of accidental deletion, loss because of natural calamity or if the hard drive crashes.

Cloud computing is also more reliable. Cloud services run on pooled and redundant infrastructure which provides you with a higher availability of IT services.

5. Speed & Performance

With cloud computing, software updates and security patches are the responsibility of your cloud services provider. Off-site data servers are regularly upgraded to the latest versions of fast and efficient computing hardware. Additionally, the time it takes to get up and running with your data storage and software is drastically reduced. No more waiting for parts to come in and appointments for installation. Often times, setting up your cloud computing services are just a few mouse clicks away.

Cons

1. Ongoing Costs

While there is no initial investment in infrastructure and its management with cloud computing, you will need to keep paying for services as long as you use them. Different Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) utilize different payment plans, but they are typically on a subscription plan that charges monthly, quarterly, or annually. Make sure when you choose a CSP that you inquire if their cloud services include round the clock tech support.

2. Vendor Lock-In

Migrating to Cloud services can be a complex and lengthy process, making changing cloud service providers a difficult process. This is why it is of upmost importance to choose your CSP wisely and make sure that they offer all of the support and services you need.

3. Limited Control of Infrastructure

Because the infrastructure of the cloud is owned and managed by the CSP, organizations may worry about not having enough control over the service. When your CSP provides you with a Service Level Agreement (SLA), make sure you understand all of it. This will help you understand what you can and cannot do with the service. You will also want to understand where your data is being housed and get details on the equipment’s availability if it needs to be serviced, particularly if you choose to place some of your own equipment in a Cloud supplier’s data center (i.e., Co-Location services). Some industries also have regulations about where data can be stored and it is important to make sure that your CSP is aware of the regulatory needs of your industry.

4. Dependent upon Tech Support of CSP

Even if you are a tech wizard, oftentimes technical issues arise and they may not all be able to resolved in-house. Not every CSP offers round the clock tech support for their clients or it may come as an added charge on top of your cloud computing subscription. Make sure to check out exactly what your SLA with your CSP includes so that you have an accurate picture of their support schedule.

5. Reliable on Internet Connection with Adequate Bandwidth

The very thing that makes Cloud Computing so accessible and flexible, its use of the internet to provide service, can also be a drawback. If your internet connection goes down, you will not have access to the data stored in the cloud for the duration of the internet outage. That said, a disruption in internet service will in no way compromise the safety of your data stored in the cloud. Furthermore, you will need to make sure that if you have a lot of users in your office that you are able to provide adequate bandwidth to cover your users and prevent a decrease in internet performance, lagging, and congestion. However, a good internet provider should be able to work with businesses to accommodate your internet needs.

 

If used correctly, cloud computing can be a great opportunity for your organization, provided you do your research and choose a CSP whose goals align with yours. No matter what type of cloud computing tools you use within your company, data management may be the most important as it adds an extra layer of protection for your sensitive information. By saving your data to the cloud, your organization can avoid data loss due to natural disaster, security breach, accidental deletion, human error, hardware damage, and more.

ProActive Cloud, powered by pim, is designed to provide dynamic and fluid network resources to meet your business objectives. ProActive Cloud provides an entire network infrastructure without initial cash investment. ProActive Cloud provides backup and recovery services to enhance your business continuity in the event of disaster.


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