Much of the recent hype in technology has been related to cloud computing. Innovations in business applications as well as ones targeted to consumers have an element of a service-based architecture. It appears everyone assumes that “the cloud” is the wave of the future, but this may not be entirely true. There are many factors that go into whether using cloud computing is right or wrong for your company and/or industry. In this blog post, we will review the following:
Cloud Characteristics vs. On-Premises Characteristics
There are many differences between on-premises solutions and cloud solutions. Some of the most obvious characteristics include the biggest difference – how they are accessed. On-premises solutions are just that, on-premises, installed on a user’s or users’ computers. Cloud solutions, on the other hand, are accessed via the internet, and typically hosted by a third-party vendor. The second big difference is the “pay as you go” or on-demand usage service model (cloud) versus the traditional upfront capital expenditure (on-premises). For accounting purposes, counting this on-demand usage as a “utility” versus a large capital expenditure can be very beneficial. Sometimes this is one of the more enticing aspects of using cloud services—the low cost/low entry point.
Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the other important but not as obvious characteristics of cloud offerings. Customizations are typically administered and managed by the end users. Cloud providers don’t have the time or bandwidth to work on customizing the service for each of their clients (unless you are willing to pay a premium). Also, cloud offerings are generally platform neutral (any browser) and clients have the ability to scale resources both up and down as needed (also known as “rapid elasticity”). Resource pooling is yet another attractive characteristic of cloud offerings, as clients share resources, allowing the cloud vendor to distribute the cost savings to all of its clients (multi-tenancy).
Whether you plan to go to the cloud or not, Sherpa Software is here to help and provide more information. For more information regarding on-premises vs. cloud computing, feel free to contact us.
What you do not realize is how often cloud computing is used in your everyday life. From changing your Facebook status to paying a bill through your banking app, chances are that you are using cloud computing to solve everyday problems without even knowing. So, what are the advantages of using cloud services for your business? As you can see in the graphic above, cloud computing can save your company a lot of up front and on-going IT expenses. In theory, when compared to on-premises applications, cloud-based services reduce hardware, software and internal IT needs. The low cost of entry to start using hosted applications and the savings of not paying a large up front capital expenditure are promising reasons to start using the cloud. Speed of setup and implementation also make moving to the cloud an attractive option to consider.
Some other advantages for cloud services include flexibility, automatic updates, increased collaboration and increased document control. The ability to scale your cloud service as needed is easily done where an on-premises service could require purchasing additional resources. For instance, increasing storage for an on-premises service likely means you are stuck with the extra hardware if it is no longer needed. Cloud services are flexible and allows for increases and decreases as necessary.
Automatic updates are another advantage for cloud services. Being that the server is located off-premises, updates are completed behind the scenes without interrupting your daily tasks. Automatic updates allow you to go about your day without having to worry about updating or maintaining the system yourself. The biggest advantage of automatic updates is that it frees up your time to focus on more important tasks, such as responding to legal requests, managing deletion policies, and more.
Cloud services also improve collaboration across departments and team members. Team members involved are able to access information anywhere, and at any time, allowing them to work together and increase their overall success. File sharing, workflows, etc. can all be shared and viewed within the cloud services, which increases the collaboration of the team. The ability to work from anywhere also has its advantages; as long as you have access to the Internet, you can continue to be productive.
Lastly, cloud services allow for increased document control. In a normal, on-premises business setting, you would need to send files back and forth to team members to be addressed one at a time. At some point, the information within the files may conflict with each other, whether it is the content, titles, formatting, etc. With cloud services, there is one version of the file every team member can see and edit as needed. The information is immediately available to all other members of the team and there is only one current version of the file. Overall, the cloud can streamline your process and increase the collaboration of your team members.
What Are Some of the Existing Cloud Offerings’ Biggest Limitations?
The most talked about and hyped concern is security. It is currently one of the most limiting factors in cloud adoption. In theory, you could be sharing space and services with your biggest competitors. Do you trust all of your information and biggest trade secrets out there in cyberspace? Limitations in integrating your company’s existing processes with the cloud could be another factor in migrating. Custom databases of customer information may not always be easily migrated to the cloud. Availability could be another limiting factor of using a cloud service. Although rare, there have been reported outages with popular cloud services. These can certainly be disruptive and depending on the value of the information being accessed, could be disastrous to your organization. Outages are, of course, not limited to cloud services alone; they could and do occur in on-premises applications as well. But the resolution of the cloud outages puts you at the mercy of the vendor, which is not always an appealing proposition.
Another important consideration with moving data/applications to the cloud is getting your data back. Data in cloud applications may be stored in proprietary formats and recovering it generally requires custom service requests, which typically come with additional costs. For instance, a company recently evaluating hosted email had to pay the service provider over $30,000 to retrieve email from the cloud servers to complete an e-Discovery request. And that was just to get the data back! It did not include actually completing the necessary e-Discovery processes. Regulatory requirements also challenge cloud implementations. For example, laws in certain countries enforce restrictions on the storage of local data outside the country. So if you are operating in these countries, you will need to ensure that the location where the vendor is storing the data complies with the prevailing laws and regulations.
What is Sherpa Software Able to Do Related to the Cloud? What are Sherpa’s Future Plans?
In terms of our cloud capabilities, Sherpa Software is currently able to help organizations prepare for impending email migrations to the cloud from on-premises versions of both Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange environments. Sherpa’s tool provides a way to selectively consolidate, collect and organize the data to minimize the effort required to transition data to the cloud. This could mean automating tasks such as centralizing all PST data from throughout the organization, even user desktops, to ensure all available data is easily accessible to migrate.
Sherpa’s Altitude IG platform provides a comprehensive suite of tools to support multiple organizational functions from a single platform. This platform helps you organize and automate routine manual tasks and like all the advantages of cloud services, Altitude IG offers a high degree of flexibility and encourages collaboration across teams and departments. Close the loop among team members with predictable, repeatable and defensible processes and have the ability to free up your teams’ time to focus on their higher level objectives. This product allows information professionals to craft a solution that best fits their individual information governance and eDiscovery needs. Altitude IG also manages your data in-place, behind your firewall, providing an extra level of security and control not found in all SaaS platforms.
In summary, there is no real right or wrong answer in determining if you should move applications to the cloud. It depends on what is right for your company and your particular situation. As outlined in this article, there are definite advantages and disadvantages to using cloud-based services. Just because the hype right now is to move to the cloud, does not mean it is also the right thing for you. Make sure you do your own research and come to your own conclusions. But for many, a cloud-based solution will provide the affordability, flexibility and scalability needed to compete.
Reading about the amazing benefits of Altitude IG doesn’t do justice to seeing it first hand with a guided tour by your very own Sherpa. No commitments and no hassle – just a 30-minute demonstration of how Altitude IG has helped clients like the Cleveland Browns, MedExpress, API, Cal-Maine Foods, Sentient Jet and many more. Schedule a 30-minute demo today!