Does every (public) cloud have a silver lining?
Cloud computing has grown exponentially over the past few years fuelled by increasing storage requirements, ease of use and flexibility – in the spend on cloud computing is expected to exceed 6 times the growth rate of IT spending by 2020 (Gartner, 2017).
For a small start-up, using cloud storage is the most obvious step to take when funds are limited and cash flow is tight. This is because cloud computing allows access to resources without large capital expenditures. Taking into account the option for immediate capacity growth as your company grows, plus the related help with disaster recovery and backup, and it seems the only logical solution.
However, the cloud is not always superior to building in-house IT infrastructure. Cloud providers’ marketing departments often gloss over the technology’s numerous drawbacks, such as increasing fees, poor performance and cybersecurity issues.
A silver lining?
Many businesses choose a cloud service for their scalability; a pricing model that is “pay for what you use,” – with this organisations have the option to buy more (or less) computing power as their needs change. However, this may not be as cost-effective as it sounds. Cloud computing can easily result in unexpected costs, especially when dealing with performance and security setbacks.
Cloud security is another serious issue, especially because it is up to the business owner – not the cloud provider – to properly configure certain cybersecurity settings. Improperly configured cloud security settings have been at fault for many of the recent data breaches in the news.
Additionally, enterprises that use a public or shared cloud can experience a cyberattack or performance issue through no fault of their own.
Public and shared clouds can also suffer performance issues and could mean potentially sharing a network with users who hog resources.
In-house infrastructure or cloud?
Several factors determine when it is better to deploy an in-house infrastructure than to use the cloud. Cost is important, for some companies who have a high-scale IT environment; monthly AWS bill exceeds the cost of an in-house solution. Think carefully about other issues such as performance, reliability and security – if you have your own infrastructure, you have total control over your computing environments, so if something goes wrong you can use your own team to fix it.
The decision of where to store data and run applications doesn’t have to be a strict matter of cloud versus in-house. In some cases, the best solution is a combination of both – i.e. hybrid. For business with limited funds, a public cloud is the most realistic choice but for others, they may want to implement both in-house servers for standard traffic and the cloud for additional capacity.
The important thing is to consider your business’ requirements and prioritise them – such as processing, performance, storage, security, data transfers and spend.
And remember, an investment in an appropriate IT infrastructure ultimately drives long-term profits that will support the growth of not only the IT department, but also the larger business of which it is a part.