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Green Beacon Solutions

Solving the 5 Riddles of Cloud Computing

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The hype around cloud computing can set almost anyone’s head spinning.  In Green Beacon's blog post last March we discussed the "Benefits of Cloud Computing". Before jumping into the whirlwind - whether you're a public or private sector organization, or a for-profit business or non-profit entity - your organization needs to research various cloud solutions, where they can provide the most value, and whether they're a fit for your specific needs and situation.

Just like a series of riddles, cloud computing poses a series of somewhat perplexing questions.  Here are some riddles and discussions to help solve the cloud computing puzzle and determine whether a cloud-based solution is appropriate for you:

1. Simple and light is the "cloud".  So why are organizations afraid?

Security, backups and disaster recovery can vary depending on your cloud services provider, and can cause many organizations to pause before making this leap.  Also, office application integration is not quite as simple and light as some may think.  From mail servers to storage area network integration, cloud applications may require expensive changes in order to work with your existing office applications.

2. Which path is the simpler one?

Your organization may utilize several data sources within your operating environment.  From inventory databases to accounting within an ERP solution, to customer and prospect data in a CRM system – data can reside on multiple servers and possibly multiple networks.  A cloud solution may be difficult to integrate to all of these various sources over a vast network.  Consider carefully the efforts involved for this integration versus utilizing on-premises servers before committing to a potentially complex cloud integration effort.

3. Change is inevitable.  Will the cloud change with you?

Consider the sophistication of ERP or CRM environments and whether your cloud-based applications will accommodate these complexities.  While there is a great deal of benefit to be realized by providing remote users with easier access to ERP and/or CRM applications, there is also the risk of customization no longer being an easy option.  Highly customized environments may be best served remaining on-premises because the cost of supporting customized applications in cloud computing can still be quite expensive.

4. Your resources are few but your IT burden is heavy.  Is it time for the cloud?

Cloud computing can actually free up valuable internal resources particularly relating to hardware, storage and network support.  With ERP or CRM environments, you may not see a reduction for internal staff because often these installations have resources that are very familiar with the configurations and should be retained to keep support levels high.

5. The total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) is not so easily calculated.  What is missing?

Evaluating upfront costs for cloud computing is only part of the equation.  It is important to consider all costs involved for a specified timeframe in order to properly calculate your total cost of ownership (TCO).  Understand your SLA with your cloud services provider and all of the potential costs when weighing your options.

Ultimately, none of these riddles have a single answer.  Each organization requires their own path to the cloud, or they may opt for a "hybrid" approach between on-premise and cloud solutions, or they may choose to remain on their current path. What is essential, however, is that you first evaluate why you're considering these options, evaluate and form consensus regarding what your overall objectives are, and weigh the available options against the current and future needs of your organization.

While we're attempting to solve only one piece of the puzzle, we're interested in learning about your experiences regarding evaluating cloud solutions - both positive and negative, so let us know!

by Green Beacon Solutions

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