There are a number of points that need to be taken into consideration in evaluating whether cloud computing is right for your company:
==> Internet Connection Speeds - A check will need to be made on whether your internet connection is sufficiently fast to be able to run cloud computing successfully. If not, you may need to investigate upgrading your current connection.
==> Do Your Business Applications Allow It? - Some business applications are too complex and simply not suitable to be run from a cloud computing platform. Advice will need to be sought from the authors of your business applications to check the viability of running your applications from a cloud platform.
==> Will cloud computing actually save you money? - This will depend on the number of employees that you have, the software applications that they need to do their jobs, and whether you will be better off installing them on a server on your premises.
There are therefore a number of benefits of migrating to cloud computing to deliver access to your business applications, and if you are considering an upgrade to your IT systems over the coming year, now is a good time to start to investigate whether your company will be able to reduce IT costs and gain a competitive advantage by migrating to cloud computing as an alternative to a potentially costly system upgrade.
Cloud Computing Overview
There are three cloud computing models. Which one is most appropriate for you will largely depend on how much of the IT Management process you want to retain within your company:
Infrastructure As A Service (IaaS) - Infrastructure As A Service allows you to rent servers, storage, and networking and install your own software on them. IaaS is typically used by larger companies to create a "Private Cloud" that will provide them with computing resources as and when they are needed, to accommodate specific projects, or to meet seasonal demand.
Platform As A Service (PaaS)
Platform As A Service allows you to take your companys current computing business applications and migrate them to a cloud infrastructure. The cloud platform provides software, operating systems, databases, email systems, and online collaboration software on a Pay-As-You-Go basis. You can increase and decrease systems resources including user licenses, servers, memory, and disk space to meet the needs of your business.
Software As A Service (SaaS) - Software As A Service allows you to access "ready-made" business applications in the cloud. The applications dont have to be installed on your company PCs but are accessed via a web browser. Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365, Workbooks.com and salesforce.com are examples of applications that are delivered via SaaS.
The Benefits of Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing provides you with:
IT On Demand
IT resources and applications can be increased or decreased as and when they are required to meet the needs of your business. All infrastructure setup is taken care of by the vendor. Deployment of an IT System on your premises using traditional on-site systems can take months of planning and installation, but using a cloud computing model this process is outsourced, thereby reducing the system commissioning cost.
Cloud Computing Is Green - Virtualisation technology is used to deliver cloud computing services, which dramatically reduces power requirements. Cloud computing therefore reduces your companys carbon footprint.
Lower Maintenance Costs
The need for engineering effort to keep your servers up-to-date is eliminated. Updates are included as part of the service, and they are scheduled to take place at a time that wont have an impact on your business operations. The cost of updating the software is spread across multiple customers thereby reducing your cost of ownership.
The migration of your business applications to the cloud can be phased in gradually, allowing you to run a pilot, and subsequently a hybrid cloud / on premises system for a period of time until you have sufficient confidence in the new system to migrate fully to a cloud based infrastructure. Cloud computing companies generally have a flexible approach to business and will endeavour to accommodate your business needs.
The US National Institute of Standards and Technology found in a recent study that businesses save 15% of their annual IT spend just by migrating to cloud computing. In addition, cloud computing allows users to access their business applications from wherever they are simply by turning the device on and starting up a web browser.