Is Cloud the Answer
Cloud” has become the buzzword of today referring to “Cloud Computing.” Every software company is claiming or attempting to have their software available through the cloud. Conferences, Webinars, and Presentations refer to the cloud and yet when you ask any of the sales or pre-sales guys the age old question, “How will this benefit my company?” you get a glossy PowerPoint instead of a direct answer.
Not every application can be used from the cloud or should be used from the cloud. While the technology pundits and the sales guys give a horde of reasons to move to the cloud as well as an equal set to stay away from it, here is my viewpoint on some questions you should be asking your CIO or technology advisor:
1) What is the return on the current investment in technology?
2) What are the issues or limitations with the current technology?
3) What is the consistency of internet bandwidth that we get at all our locations?
4) What benefits do my business users get by moving to the cloud?
5) What applications must be cloud based?
"Not every application can be used from the cloud or should be used from the cloud"
Hosting email and file servers in-house is not just an expensive decision, but it also requires an in-house technology team, a consulting service engagement, and periodic maintenance and upgrades. A cloud based provider can reduce your investments on IT hardware, software, real estate, and people on the four most critical and daily used applications for your business-Email, Office, File Storage, and Web Hosting. You are not just using the cloud but you also get the latest features including mobile integration at no cost allowing your users to stay ahead of the competition by leveraging better technologies and it will cost you as little as $1/month for your organization to @$5 per user per month for all the bells and whistles including office applications.
The era to pay an IT firm to host your website is long gone. A cloud based web hosting firm can host your entire website with unlimited data and unlimited bandwidth for as little as $1 per month.
When it comes to business applications you must think about the needs of the business as well as the reporting requirements that will keep your business ahead of its competition. For example, there are many standalone applications for customer relationship management. However, most businesses require reports with financial and sales data and a stand-alone CRM application is not going to provide this answer.
There are many applications that allow you to do world class employee management including performance management, time and expense management as well as personnel management. However, if a bulk of your task force is manufacturing labor with a centralized HR, then your technology requirements are very different from a professional services company whose consulting task force is spread out geographically and time and expenses are usually rebilled to the customers.
Most service providers like to sell you an application of their choice and then program it till your business gets fed up and starts capturing and reporting data using Excel. When you take your problem to any IT expert, they suggest you move your investment to the new “cloud” based technology to reduce your spend rather than giving you the solution that is right for your business. In the end as the business owner the most important question to ask is, “Does this work for me in my environment and for my business needs today and support my vision for tomorrow?”