Considering the move online

Catching up on news this morning including announcements tweeted from the European Gartner Symposium that took place this week. And cloud computing is once again a hot topic

It’s interesting to see people question why businesses are reluctant to adopt cloud computing models, particularly public ones. Arguments in favour of the economic benefits tend to focus on one specific cost saving – that on-premise IT systems are rarely used to full capacity meaning there is waste, both financial and environmental. Lack of trust is too easily cited as the reason businesses are reluctant to switch. In reality, there are lots of different factors influencing the cost, value and risk of one system over another, some real and some imagined but all of consequence.

I use four questions to help evaluate what systems may be suited to using cloud computing in the current climate, i.e. one where Internet connectivity is still not as fast or reliable as it needs to be for running critical services:

  • Is interactivity with external people as or more important than with internal people? If yes, the system may as well be hosted if economically preferable. If the Internet connection is down, you can’t get the work done anyway, and if you are allowing external access to data, you’ve already lost control… (email is a prime candidate for many, extranets and collaborative work are another area)
  • Is the business demand for computing power variable and/or temporary? If yes, cloud computing providers will likely offer more flexible resources at lower cost than trying to scale up your own virtualised data center (retail scenarios are prime candidates – temporarily scaling up systems to cope with seasonal demand)
  • Does the system require specialist skills to maintain that are hard to obtain/retain onsite? True for many small businesses and this is where online CRM systems have succeeded – but they usually also require the 4th rule…
  • If you need to be able to work with the data regardless of Internet connectivity, an online solution must enable data to be synchronised locally and accessible offline

Some IT systems are better suited to cloud computing than others. And ditto for organisations and business processes. There isn’t a grand unifying equation that applies to all scenarios.


Photo-Clouds-LA-LHR2Featured image: Author’s own photo (Flying from LA to London Heathrow)