Pros and Cons of Going to the Cloud – a Decision-Making Tool

The Cloud has changed the way we do business and many firms are wondering if they would benefit from converting their current onsite IT structure to a full cloud-based configuration. The answer is not so simple and those firms looking to make the transition should perform an in-depth due diligence review.

Generally, there are three configurations a company can choose for their IT structure: Full Onsite, Hybrid Cloud, and Full Cloud.

Below, we outline the pros and cons for each configuration. Use this as a starting checklist when considering converting to a full cloud-based configuration. Remember to do your full due diligence review before committing the resources needed to convert.

Full Onsite – all hardware and software is onsite
Pros:

  • All IT assets are under the direct and physical supervision of the client.
  • Each workstation is dedicated to performing tasks for one user. Processing will be faster than having to log onto a server and sharing resources with others as in a full cloud environment.
  • When physical issues occur, hardware can be serviced locally or onsite.
  • When internet connectivity issues occur, employees have access to the server and its data within the organization’s physical location even though the internet connections are down.

Cons:

  • Enterprise-level hardware and software are expensive requiring outlays of large amounts of cash while at the same time requiring businesses and organizations to depreciate these systems over time.
  • Physical security of systems, especially servers, can be problematic for many organizations. Many companies cannot afford the hardened facilities or the redundant backup systems employed by data centers to protect clients from catastrophic disasters (man-made or natural).
  • Employees working remotely are subject to “full blackouts” during internet connectivity issues or during system failures on the servers.
  • Onsite configurations leave organizations vulnerable to catastrophic disasters that render facilities and equipment unusable. Protecting such organizations require extensive disaster recovery and backup solutions.

Hybrid Cloud – a combination of onsite and offsite solutions 

Pros:

  • Same as Full Onsite Solution except that part of the server environment exists in the cloud. For instance, a business may maintain their file servers onsite while their Exchange servers are in the cloud.
  • If a disaster occurs, part of the company’s IT structure will be operational. In the above example, if the facility becomes unusable, email communications will still function from any location with an internet connection.
  • Security and backup processes happen automatically for cloud-based servers.

Cons:

  • Again, the same as the Full Onsite Solution however, part of the configuration is vulnerable if the site loses internet connectivity. In the above example, the company’s email system would be vulnerable until the internet connection is restored.

Full Cloud – all servers and software hosted in the Cloud where client workstations and thin client devices depend on remote servers to access files and services.

Pros: 

  • Initial cost reduction. Businesses would not have to outlay large amounts of cash to purchase physical servers.
  • Lower workstation replacement costs if the business replaces PC workstations with thin clients, whose only function is to connect to the cloud server.
  • Full Cloud minimizes a firm’s hardware and security risks. The systems are offsite and therefore not vulnerable to disasters affecting the company’s facilities.
  • Businesses can scale resources, paying only for what they need. They can quickly grow or contract services according to business conditions.
  • Systems are accessible from any location with an internet connection making collaboration between employees easier.
  • Since a business pays for the service on a periodic basis, what was once a capital expense now becomes an operating expense.

Cons:

  • The Full Cloud configuration is reliant on bandwidth. During heavy usage, employees may experience a “slow-down” even though the Cloud Servers have been provisioned with adequate storage and memory.
  • Full Cloud Configuration is dependent upon internet connectivity. Internet connectivity issues can literally stop an organization in its tracks.
  • Local data transfers are constrained by internet connection speeds.
  • Video/photo editing/3D applications may not perform as well as in onsite configurations.
  • Higher monthly cost outlay. Remember those operating expenses we highlighted as one of the pros? Well, you now have a monthly bill that can be quite hefty in order to use your new cloud assets.

Due Diligence Required
Without performing a comprehensive due diligence review, some businesses may find that their operating expenses are much higher than anticipated, especially if they’ve underestimated needed cloud resources. Problematic internet connections and under-provisioned cloud assets can also cause severe productivity issues.

Make sure you do a comprehensive study before making a decision to scrap your onsite solution in favor of a full cloud configuration. Take all the pros and cons into consideration and make your decision accordingly.

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