How to Know When It’s Time to Move Your IT to the CloudHave you ever received an invitation to a cloud computing event and wondered if you should go? Maybe you’re thinking, “What is the big deal about cloud computing, anyway? My current computer systems are working fine. What is the cloud going to do for me that I don’t already have?”
Or, maybe your IT person is saying, “Don’t worry about the cloud. It’s just a fad.” Naturally, you trust your IT person, but then again, your business needs to stay competitive and what if your IT person isn’t as informed about the cloud as you think? Worse yet, what if he or she doesn’t want you to know the real facts about cloud computing because of fear that it could impact his or her job?
The reality with cloud computing, like most things, is that it depends on the situation. For some of you, cloud computing offers huge potential benefits. For others, the benefits may not be so obvious. One thing you can count on, though, is that:
The benefits of cloud computing are very real. It is not a fad.
It is growing. More companies and applications are moving to the cloud every day.
It shouldn’t be ignored. The potential benefits are simply too great.
So, what are some of the benefits of cloud computing?
I believe that the biggest advantage of cloud computing is peace of mind. Due to economies of scale, the SSAE 16 certified data centers that your cloud applications are typically running in have redundant power, redundant internet connections, redundant backup systems, proven disaster recovery plans and extensive physical and electronic security systems. In addition, they can afford to have multiple, highly qualified and experienced infrastructure experts on staff. What does this mean for you? It means that your data is probably significantly more secure in the cloud than it is when it’s running on your own in-house computers.
Another clear advantage of cloud computing is that it scales much more easily than in-house systems. If, for example, your business is growing or if you have a seasonal business with peak times, you no longer have to worry about running out of computing power or capacity and having to quickly purchase a new server. Likewise, if business slows down, many cloud computing vendors allow you to scale back on capacity and save money in the process.
Speaking of money, another benefit of cloud computing is that your costs are much more predictable. With cloud computing, you know exactly what your IT is going to cost you each and every month. No more surprises. By moving to the cloud, your IT costs will shift from large periodic, capital expenditures to much more predicable on-going operating expenses.
Last, but not least, cloud computing inherently gives you remote access to information. When you’re operating in the cloud, you can access your data at any time, from any location, via any internet enabled device. In today’s fast-paced, highly connected, global economy, that is a huge advantage for any organization.
So, how do you know if it’s time to move your IT to the cloud? Here are some guidelines.
Old hardware technology. If your computer hardware and technology is more than three years old and you are considering replacing or upgrading it, consider the cloud instead. Rather than investing in more hardware, this might be the ideal time to get out of the IT business and move to the cloud.
You lose a key IT resource. How vulnerable would you be if this were to happen? The loss of a key IT resource should be a sure trigger for looking at moving to the cloud.
Remote access is critical to your business. Whether it’s having the ability to work from your summer home or simply the need for your remote offices and remote employees to have access to your systems, the cloud makes this much more viable. With true cloud, you have access to your systems from any place at any time on any device.
You’re a start-up operation. As a start-up, you have limited capital and you don’t know how fast you are going to grow. If you are in this position, the decision is easy. Cloud solutions require minimal capital investment and much faster ramp up times.
You have a seasonal business. If your business is seasonal and, for example, the majority of your business takes place over a three month span, consider the cloud. As mentioned earlier, cloud systems are highly scalable and the capacity can be turned up or down, as needed. Why invest in a big server to meet your peak needs when you only need it for a short three-month span?
You are tired of being hit with surprise IT expenses. When you are in the cloud, you never have to worry about replacing servers. Similarly, you don’t have to worry about expensive and disrupting upgrades to in-house application software. For example, Intacct, a popular cloud-based financial accounting software package, updates their software quarterly. Because it’s a cloud-based solution, all of the users get the updates seamlessly with no disruption or extra cost to their organization.
In summary, don’t ignore the cloud. It is possible the cloud may not fit your needs today, but it is certainly somewhere in your future, because the benefits are very real and they will only get greater as technology continues to improve.
| ||James Meyer is the Director of Business Development for the Business Solutions and Technology department of Maner Costerisan, a Lansing based CPA firm. He has more than 30 years of experience helping organizations maximize their investments in financial accounting software and related technology.|