The Pros and Cons of Cloud Computing

cloud-computing

After more than a decade, cloud computing is still being touted as revolutionary business technology. 2016 saw a record number of cloud migrations and innovations; and this year we expect to see the same upward trend. In Australia, several IT leaders have already begun transitioning their organisations to a hybrid cloud environment; and according to an Intel Security study, 46% of non-cloud users are planning to adopt the cloud in the coming months.

But the cloud isn’t for everyone. Before moving your IT infrastructure there; your company needs to know what to expect from cloud computing and fully understand its risks as well as its benefits.

The pros

Lower costs

There are various reasons why businesses migrate to the cloud, but it’s biggest appeal is undoubtedly its cost savings. Cloud services follow a pay-as-you-go subscription model, where you get access to enterprise-level infrastructure and support. This helps you avoid the huge upfront cost of an on-premise server and the additional power, cooling, and support fees required to maintain it.

Organisations will also see the same cost savings when they invest in cloud-hosted software. For example, while boxed copies of Microsoft Office 2016 costs $149 per workstation; software-as-a-service subscriptions like Office 365 go for as low as $13.20 per user per month. With such affordability for a business-grade IT solution; small- and medium-sized companies will have no trouble scaling their operations and staying on budget.

Increased collaboration

In a non-cloud environment, many business processes were excruciatingly inefficient. Collaboration required emails to float around from one employee to the next so everyone could take their turn working on the attached document.

The cloud on the other hand, provides a single location to host documents; so that multiple users can update and collaborate on them in real time. Microsoft Dynamics CRM lets your sales team collect and upload customer information in a central database; allowing other employees further down the sales pipeline to access that information and convert leads into paying customers. And recently, Microsoft Teams, a new feature in Office 365; was added as a communication hub that allows individual group members to share content, chat, and collaborate on the same Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files.

The beauty of the cloud is that even if you’re not in the office; cloud-based software can be accessed from anywhere through an internet-enabled device; helping your business get more done in a day than it ever could with traditional collaboration methods.

Business continuity

Speaking of getting more done, cloud computing also prevents your business from losing productivity. Fires, floods, power outages, and theft can prove lethal to businesses that don’t have a business continuity plan. But if your data and IT infrastructure are safely backed up in the cloud; you can recover lost files, restore mission-critical systems, and conduct business as usual soon after disaster strikes.

The cons

Internet dependency

When applications run in the cloud, they need the internet, and when it’s slow or offline, downtime occurs. Consider holding off on cloud migrations until you’re absolutely certain your internet connection and bandwidth can handle the work. We suggest you allocate at least 8Mbps to run cloud applications.

Security vulnerabilities

Because of their size and the sensitive information they hold; public, private, and hybrid clouds are often targeted by cybercriminals, botnets, and brute-force attacks. Even Dropbox, a secure cloud storage provider; leaked over 68 million user passwords following a hack in 2012.

To eliminate these risks, cloud users must invest in nothing but the strongest security controls. In other words, you should look for a cloud service provider (CSP); that offers encryption systems, web gateway solutions, role-based access controls, and remote monitoring tools; along with their productivity-enhancing cloud offerings to ensure your data and systems are secure.

Non-compliance risk

New cloud adopters may find themselves in legal disputes if they are simply unaware of the security requirements of the cloud. The Privacy Act 1988 and the Archives Act 1983; are prime examples of data security regulations to which all Australian businesses must adhere.

As your data is more vulnerable in the cloud; you must establish stringent measures for managing the “storage, access, alteration, transfer, or destruction of its business information”. Organisations that fail to comply with Australian data security initiatives could be liable for penalties of up to $1.7 million.

The key takeaway here is: don’t haphazardly move to the cloud. Consider how your data will be stored and secured when outsourcing to a third party. This should be outlined in the agreement with your CSP, and must address mitigations to governance and security risks.

When it comes to choosing an IT solution, the cloud is a no-brainer. But if you want to fully take advantage of the cloud, you also need to account for its risks. Here at Empower IT, we make sure your cloud deployment is as good as it can be. No non-compliance, security, disaster recovery, and bandwidth issues to worry about. All you get with our cloud services are the benefits. Get in touch with us today.