Is the cloud right for you?
First you have to define what your understanding of the cloud is. What is the cloud you may ask? The cloud refers to many things; there are more variations of “the cloud” than there are TV channels. So… my general answer to this question is no, the cloud might not be right for everyone. The first question one should ask is how many people will be using computers? Two or more? You may need a server to better manage your data and infrastructure. What type of computer is being used most often? PC or laptop? Laptops are the world’s worst place to keep your data. For two reasons; security and there is higher possibility of physically damaging the laptop. The type of cloud needed to solve this problem is a Virtual Office. The cloud in a Virtual Office requires an internet connection and a login. When a person logs in all the software and data are automatically available to the user. The data and software is not stored on the laptop it is stored on a server in the cloud you just logged into. All is secure and accessible from anywhere.
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
What about “the cloud” for lets say 8-10 users. This is when most companies start thinking about an in-house server. The question of, “should we buy our own server or is the cloud right for us?” has to be asked. The simple answer is cost. The business model for technology should be based on the three main “drivers of our decision making process” Security, Availability, Risk. The thing to remember is that these three things have a significant cost associated with them and so therefore must provide a compelling business case for whichever you decide upon. I had a dentist tell me that because of their type of business they could use cheaper products (Servers, PC’s and Routers). Given that every PC in a Dentist’s office is a profit center and the server is storing both HIPPA and Social Security information and the router is trying to protect you from the outside world, I would strongly disagree with him. In this case all three business variables come into play, the storing of HIPPA and SS information requires strong security, the need to have the entire system available all of the time is high and the risk associated with exposing people’s health and personal information is huge.
CLOUD SOLUTIONS FOR SMALL OFFICES
However, if I am a small office with a half dozen PC’s that are used primarily for email communication, writing letters, and working on spreadsheets, I am going to say that trying to justify increasing the cost of doing business by getting the latest and greatest technology, the Cloud, is just not there. In essence we only have one of the three drivers, availability, driving our decision making processes. Because of the cost drivers associated with having 3, 4, and say 6, users in a virtual office the costs gets harder to justify. Now, if all but say one of these users spends most of their time outside the office and need access to the data normally stored on their office machine throughout the day then the availability calculation has to be handled in a much different fashion. Now, we are talking about purchasing a $1200.00 Laptop versus a $400.00 PC. In addition, we may need the ability to print to our office printer, which now, also gets calculated as part of the availability question. However, given that we don’t have either a “security” or “risk” factor to calculate the decision gets to be very hard.
So, let’s make the answer simple. If you have your own server and it’s getting to the point of replacement. Look at the costs of the cloud versus replacing the in-house server, the Cloud will win out. If you a need a really secure environment where the risk of data loss has huge consequences, meaning dollars and reputation flow out the door, then the cloud is probably for you. If you are a 1-2 person office, then the cloud is probably best for you. However if you are a 2-10 person office without a server and have only a small need for managing security and your risk is minimal, then the cloud is probably not for you.