The cloud has been one of the most talked-about concepts in computing for years now, and a recent survey by RightScale found that 95 per cent of companies are now using some form of cloud service.
However, a lot of this is still at the experimentation stage, with at least two thirds of workloads still provided via traditional IT systems. So there’s still a long way to go before market size predictions for the cloud are achieved.
With huge potential economic benefits available from the cloud, here are 10 reasons (out of many more) that you can give your Chief Financial Officer, which might convince them it’s time to switch services over.
1. Fewer capital costs to worry about
One of the most attractive features of cloud computing is that you don’t need to invest in servers anymore, or at least not as many. So the three-year cycle of purchasing and replacement will no longer be such a huge issue, and you won’t need the periodic lump of finance required to upgrade. There will still be capital costs for end user equipment and infrastructure, including an increased focus on strong networking and Internet connectivity. But networking infrastructure typically has a longer lifespan than server hardware, so the frequency of capital investment will be reduced.
2. You always have the latest technology
As an added bonus of the lack of need for capital outlay on servers, the cloud will also ensure that you have the latest technology. It is a public cloud provider’s responsibility to ensure they keep their hardware up to date, and shifting a virtualised workload to new and improved hardware can be completely seamless where load-balancing technology is in use. Even with a private cloud, hardware upgrades won’t be such a painful process, with virtualised environments more readily portable.
3. Subscriptions make costs predictable
Most cloud services are based around monthly or annual subscription payments for a specific set of features. So the primary financial expenditure will be a predictable operational one. Your budget will shift from irregular “CapEx” payments to steady “OpEx” ones, making for a smoother, more controlled financial environment.
4. Reduced maintenance costs
A cloud service will come with maintenance included. You won’t need a separate maintenance contract or in-house IT staff to troubleshoot problems – the cloud service provider will offer this. Your in-house IT staff will merely have to provide support for users to access the cloud services, and otherwise focus on maintaining the network infrastructure and related services, like network printers and security.
5. Only pay for what you use
Although the main everyday business services will be provided on the cloud via a subscription, if your company has spikes in demand, this can be catered for better too. With traditional IT provision, you will need to predict the greatest demand likely to occur and specify for that. But then your servers will be sitting idle for most of the time when the demand isn’t spiking, which is hardly cost effective.
Cloud services can be provisioned in a matter of minutes, or even seconds, and decommissioned in a similarly rapid manner. So greater capacity can be provided only when required, and paid for accordingly, meaning you don’t waste money on spare capacity you don’t need. You also won’t face issues from lack of availability due to an underspecified provision, because any unexpected spike can be rapidly catered for as they are encountered.
6. Less space required
If you’re not maintaining servers, you won’t need the machine room you previously used to house them, or at least not such a large one. Since these rooms generally require special fireproofing and air conditioning, they are expensive pieces of real estate within your office. You are still likely to require a room for the core network switching kit for your company, but it won’t be anywhere near as big as racks of servers, and the space you save can be given over to other office uses.
7. Easier mobile working
The cloud can greatly facilitate the mobile worker. Whether public or private cloud is being used, the very nature of the technology is that it makes services readily available over the network and Internet. So long as appropriate security is in place, these service can be made readily available to laptops, tablets, and even smartphones. Web-based cloud services will be particularly easy to access on the move.
8. Flexibility with staffing
In tandem with the enhanced mobile working facility provided by the cloud, employees will have much greater choice of where they work. With the same services and applications available whether they are in the office, at home, in a hotel, or in a café, the geographical reach of your organisation can be greater than ever before.
9. Greater security and resilience
The loss of mobile devices containing important confidential data can be a major threat to your organisation; similarly, whilst you will likely have off-site backups of your traditional IT systems, your company productivity will still take a hit if your servers are stolen or your systems hacked. With cloud services, the data won’t reside exclusively on a mobile device, so an employee who has lost their laptop can get up and running on another one almost immediately.
With virtual desktops, no data will be held locally, so there won’t be a risk of it getting into the wrong hands in the case of a theft. On the server side, a large data centre will have greater defence from physical attack and hackers breaking in than a SME can usually afford. Virtualised workloads can also be spread across geographical locations, so even a natural disaster won’t mean a loss of provision.
10. You can focus on your core business
Having to expend a significant proportion of your budget and attention on keeping your IT infrastructure current is a waste of resources if your business is not specifically these IT services themselves. Outsourcing to the cloud will mean that you can let the provider deal with that side of the business, and put more of your effort back into your company’s core products or services.
It will also mean that there can be faster rollout for new products, because provisioning IT requirements in the cloud can be almost immediate, once you know what you want. That means your company can focus its attention on what it does best, and what it was set up to do in the first place.
This will increase profits, which will be music to your CFO’s ears.
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