Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Cloud Computing, Private/Public/Hybrid Cloud … Arrgghh!! There are so many options being touted as the “way the industry is moving” and “inevitable” for companies, large and small, to adopt and embrace. As IT experts, clients often ask us if these technologies are right for them. The answer is “it depends.” There is no such thing as “one-size-fits-all” in technology and there needs to be a better understanding of the risks, benefits and costs of adopting these technologies.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud Computing is a term that may be easier to understand if you think of things like having an aol.com or Hotmail email address, which are simple examples of technical services that reside somewhere “out there” on the Net, or in the “Cloud.” With current technologies, an organization can now have its corporate email, database, application, file and print, web servers, etc., reside outside its building, even outside its country! Technologies such as virtualization allow you to accomplish this without ever having to buy, install, maintain or even see the hardware and software required to do so. You just pay a monthly fee for the services you use.
One of the benefits of Cloud Computing is that you will no longer have to incur the following:
- Costs associated with buying the hardware and software
- Ongoing expenses of supporting, managing or maintaining those technologies
While there are benefits to cloud computing, it is important to understand the risks vs. rewards to your organization. These include:
- Information security and privacy:
- Security of your data
- Government privacy
- Government regulations and laws stipulate how long certain types of data must be retained and how it is to be stored and where. Data such as employee/client/credit information must be stored in encrypted format and controlled as to who (inside or outside your organization) can access it.
- Efficiency/Continuity of Service:
- If the end users’ PCs reside in your offices and the application, the server it resides on, and all of the data are Cloud-based and accessed from the other side of the country over the Internet, it might not be as quick and snappy as you need it to be and may increase the risk of the data being intercepted, lost or corrupted.
- You cannot conduct business working in the Cloud if your Internet connection goes down, or doesn’t perform well enough. Your connectivity costs will increase dramatically as you will need to manage multiple connections to the Internet.
If all of this has you scratching your head, you are not alone. Technology is constantly changing and while it provides many rewards, it can be difficult to navigate. Understanding the risks and rewards will help you to avoid costly mistakes and ensure a much better end-user experience.
Douglas W. Grosfield is President & CEO of Xylotek Solutions Inc., a full service IT solutions provider serving clients’ needs throughout North America for hardware, software and professional services. Xylotek helps clients to augment their internal IT department to be more effective and efficient, reduce their IT spending as well as outsource all of their IT requirements from helpdesk to CIO and everything in between. Winning awards such as Best Tech Workplace (1st place in Canada), and 3rd overall in North America, placing in 2008 and 2009 on the Profit HOT50 Emerging Growth Companies lists, the 2011 Profit 200 Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies list, as well as being a 2011 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year nominee, Xylotek continues to achieve recognition as a trailblazer providing best-in-class offerings to its diverse client base.