In this day and age, more and more companies are offering cloud services. Microsoft has Office 365. Adobe has Creative Cloud. Google has Google Apps. And a multitude of others are emerging all the time. It's not surprising really, when you think about the nature of IT, cloud services makes sense on so many levels. After all, as business changes and grows, we will always be looking for ways to increase capacity (or add capabilities) easily and quickly without being forced to invest in expensive hardware, personnel training and new software licenses.
So what are the other benefits of going to the cloud?
- Better for the bottom line - In most cases, cloud services are more cost-effective than investing in your own in-house server. Especially when you take into account that it's not just about doing away with your own hardware, but also the need for support staff who have the knowledge to maintain and upgrade the servers.
- Easy does it – Applications built for the cloud certainly makes life easier in that you can access all your information from your mobile, computer or tablet, whenever, wherever… all automatically synched in real time.
- Less risky business – Investing in-house can be risky as you need to decide your future requirements upfront (who knows what your IT requirements will be like 5 years down the line!). But on a cloud platform, you can scale your bandwidth, processing power or even disk space as your business grows (or shrinks!) to suit your changing needs.
- Seamless and slick – With a cloud-based system, maintenance is done by the guys who built it, so it's seamless and automatic. Which means you can say goodbye to IT headaches on your side, and pay attention to your core business.
What's more, when you look at the way the world is going in terms of Facebook, Twitter and every other social media out there, you start to get a sense of how pervasive the cloud already is in our everyday lives. And in my opinion, it's still in its infancy! In fact, we may look back in ten years' time and wonder how we operated any differently. The world is getting smaller every day, largely thanks to the nature of cloud services – collaborative, interconnected and accessible.
But before throwing all your servers out along with the support staff, be aware that IT clouds don't always have a silver lining. By using cloud services you are, to an extent, relinquishing control as changes and updates happen automatically. With in-house services, you can control the timings of exactly when changes are executed and who is affected. What's more, with in-house services, you generally have more options available to customise your system to suit your exact business needs. Cloud services are, to some extent, bound by fairly standard one-size-fits-all solutions.
To sum it up, consider the realm of real estate – in many cases it suits people to buy, but in others it makes far more sense to rent. Every company will at some point be faced with the same choice when it comes to optimising their IT systems. Is it better to invest in an in-house server (buy), or go to the cloud (rent)? There are no right or wrong answers here, as so much depends on the nature of your business. But from where I'm sitting, the forecast looks pretty cloudy…