Clearly, moving applications and data to the cloud is popular right now. You don’t have to look any further than cloud providers’ financial results: Microsoft reported that quarterly revenue from its Azure cloud was up 73% year over year. Amazon’s annual run rate is over $30 billion, up from $7 billion in 2015.
Anyone providing cloud-based hardware and software will quickly tell you why the cloud is growing so fast. Cloud environments can be created instantly, can easily be made redundant, and don’t require purchasing expensive on-site hardware. We’re big proponents of cloud-based email services ourselves; they work extremely well for most companies. And when it makes sense to move any other applications over to a cloud environment, we’re always happy to help clients make that jump and enjoy all the benefits it brings.
Even with all of its power, however, it’s still over-hyped. The biggest problem with the cloud remains that it’s given the benefit of the doubt. Just because it can do something doesn’t mean that it will. And just because it sounds easy doesn’t mean that it always is. Consider the three examples mentioned earlier.
Cloud environments can be created instantly BUT that doesn’t mean it’s ready for your company to use without significant work. A cloud instance is akin to a brand new PC – it will still need to be configured to work with your existing network, and to perform whatever tasks you’re hoping to accomplish. And because it’s not inside of the network that lives in your building, configuration may be more complex. Finally, maintaining a secure environment will almost certainly require extra steps. This is because cloud environments cannot be ‘closed to the outside’ – they are outside.
Cloud environments can easily be made redundant BUT that doesn’t mean your data is preserved forever. There’s a difference between having a backup PC available if your current one falters, and having a backup of last month’s data. While redundancy is often available in cloud-based environments, some cloud-based software only retains backups of your data for a period of days. That means that if you discover a file was accidentally deleted last month, there may be no way to recover it. And while third-party services can generally fix this problem, they add both cost and complexity to a cloud environment.
Cloud-based products don’t require upfront purchases of hardware and software BUT that doesn’t mean they’ll be cheaper over the long run. In fact, cloud-based installations tend to be more expensive over the long run. You don’t have to buy the hardware upfront, but your cloud-provider does, so they make sure to charge enough to make that expense worth it for them. Cloud-based software applications are similarly more expensive over a three or five year period when compared with products designed to be installed on on-site hardware. Finally, if you move to the cloud and ever decide to switch to another product or provider, migrating can be much more complex than it would be if the software was run in-house.
Of course, there are financial benefits as well. Cloud-based products are generally always up-to-date – you don’t have to constantly buy new versions of cloud software to enjoy the latest benefits. And to many companies, the larger monthly bill is worth avoiding a one-time large capital outlay that doesn’t fit well into the budget.
None of these facts make the cloud a bad idea. Cloud-based hardware and software, like everything else in life, simply has trade-offs. Unsurprisingly, the people who market cloud services don’t always do the best to put those trade-offs front and center. A balanced, objective analysis requires you to ask some nuanced questions – including those related to the the issues described above.
To learn how WingSwept helps businesses grow and succeed using both cloud-based and on-premises hardware and software solutions, call us at 919-779-0954 or email us at Team_WingSwept@WingSwept.com.