Cloud computing is now at the forefront of business technologies, having proven its value in the face of an ongoing global pandemic and the massive shift to telecommuting. Industry experts believe that the trend of adopting cloud solutions will only continue to grow and develop further in the next few years. But while cloud computing is undoubtedly beneficial for businesses of all sizes, it is not without its downsides.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of computing services over the internet, aka the cloud. This includes computing power, storage, databases, software, analytics, and more. Cloud computing offers faster innovation as well as flexible resources and payment arrangements, which can help your business reduce operating costs, run infrastructures more efficiently, and scale as your needs change.
What are the advantages of cloud computing?
Whether it’s a legacy company starting its digital transformation journey or a startup looking to be the next big thing, businesses can reap the following benefits with cloud computing.
Cloud service providers (CSPs) grant access to IT resources that may otherwise be too costly for companies with limited budgets to purchase and maintain on their own. This eliminates huge upfront costs, as hardware and associated maintenance and utility expenses are shouldered by the CSP. You simply have to pay a fixed monthly subscription fee or a specific amount for the resources you use, sometimes with minor initial setup fees.
What’s more, since cloud environments are typically shared by multiple users, you benefit from economies of scale — that is, the more users there are, the lower the average costs.
A hallmark of the cloud, scalability is the ability to increase or decrease IT resources as needed to meet changing demands. Therefore, cloud computing is perfect for you if you find yourself needing to modify your business's IT environment regularly. It lets you easily scale up your resource allocation to meet greater demand during peak seasons, and do the opposite during lean months.
The ubiquity of the cloud has made access to diverse information and resources simpler than ever. This maximizes business productivity and efficiency by ensuring your data applications are always accessible, while allowing for easy collaboration and sharing among users in multiple locations.
4. Easy implementation
There are three factors that generally dictate how long cloud migration will take. These are the size of your business, the age of your business, and the number of services you use to support your operations. Depending on these, you may be able to move your key applications and data to the cloud on the same day or within a few days. A reliable CSP can set up your cloud infrastructure and integrate it into your existing systems quickly and seamlessly.
5. Fewer operational issues
On top of offering computing resources, CSPs provide enhanced support and security. Their data centers are managed and maintained 24/7 by certified professionals, ensuring that your cloud environment is always accessible and that hardware updates and upgrades are implemented automatically. This way, you experience fewer operational issues as these are handled by the CSP, and you can focus on more value-generating activities.
What are the disadvantages of cloud computing?
Cloud computing has so many other advantages, but it’s also important to understand how exactly the cloud can adversely impact your operations. Let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages of cloud computing.
The cloud is more convenient than a traditional IT infrastructure, but there’s a price to pay for that convenience: it’s easy to overspend on increased storage and additional services. That’s why it’s important to understand your current workloads, as well as how their growth will influence your future costs. You want to take advantage of the cloud’s scalability, but you don’t want to pay for unused resources.
2. Vendor lock-in
CSPs often guarantee that cloud solutions are flexible to use and easy to integrate. However, you may find it challenging to switch to another provider if you're unhappy with your current one. There may be overwhelming differences between vendor systems that will make it complex and expensive to reconfigure your cloud infrastructure. At the same time, another migration may expose your data to additional security and privacy risks.
What’s worse, some CSPs might even make withdrawing your data from the cloud difficult when you cancel their services.
So before signing up with a vendor, thoroughly assess the services and capabilities they offer to avoid getting locked in.
3. Limited control
Depending on the particular service, you may have limited control over the function and execution of the CSP’s hosting infrastructure. License agreements and management policies will mention any restrictions on what you, as a customer, can do with your CSP’s deployments. Likewise, you generally cannot control any part of the backend infrastructure, like server shell access, updates, and firmware management.
4. Potential downtime
Not even the best CSPs are safe from service outages. Cloud computing systems are internet-based, which means a stable internet connection is needed to access them. And just like any piece of hardware, cloud servers can fail for a multitude of reasons.
When any kind of outage occurs at your CSP’s data center, you are at risk of downtime. And depending on how long their systems are down, it can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue. To prevent this from happening, you can:
- Establish a multi-cloud infrastructure to avoid having a single point of failure
- Leverage multi-region or other location-based zones that use automatic failover systems
5. Vulnerability to attacks
Another caveat of the cloud’s ubiquity is every component is potentially accessible from the internet. While CSPs purposely craft cloud solutions with multifaceted, holistic security in mind, there still exists the risks of data breaches and cyberattacks.
So instead of relying solely on your CSP to uphold stringent cybersecurity standards, you must share the responsibility of protecting your assets in the cloud. You can do this by:
- Clarifying the shared and assigned responsibilities when it comes to implementing preventative measures (e.g., threat detection)
- Frequently auditing how your business is using the cloud, whether through official solution architects from your CSP or internally
- Training your employees on basic cyber hygiene and creating policies that will guide them on how to handle data safely in the cloud
Cloud computing is ever-evolving
As cloud adoption continues to increase, so does the range of services, security, and performance of cloud solutions. So, you can expect that this technology is here to stay for the long term.
We at Integrated Computer Services have a wealth of experience in implementing cloud solutions for Florida businesses. Increase productivity, security, and profitability by getting expert consultation and migration assistance from our specialists. It all starts with a complimentary assessment of your IT environment. Get in touch with us today.