Promise of the Cloud

What, exactly, is Cloud Computing?

Some degree of skepticism about cloud computing is understandable. The marketing hype surrounding it smacks of previous campaigns by consultants and technology companies to lure corporate investment. To wit: Y2K paranoia, hysteria and fiber optic mania.

The above quote is from an article by William J. Holstein wherein he focuses on practical business issues raised by the promise of Cloud Computing. His advice is to use the promise of cloud computing to dive in and understand the full costs and value of whatever information systems are in place in your organization today, then aggressively manage those resources to provide the greatest benefit at the least cost. When evaluating the Cloud, Holstein notes an important reality:

Defining “cloud” isn’t easy. The term does not refer to a pie in- the-sky IT heaven open to all. The cloud is distinctly proprietary.

He follows with some cautionary advice:

Of course, CEOs must tread carefully in the cloud and not take wild plunges into unknown territory.

As with any business decision (information technology should be considered a business decision, not a technology decision), carefully evaluate and uncover any risks of the alternatives before committing. Holstein points out that in many cases a Cloud vendor may handle risks better than your inhouse resources – but it is imperative that you confirm the risks are handled. He identifies security, privacy, and availability as key risks so investigate a Cloud vendors approach to encryption, failover to a remote location, and backup before committing.

But smart CEOs are using it to strip out costs and give their businesses a competitive shot in the arm—and conducting tough analyses to make sure it delivers on its promise.

Excellent advice. Remember that everything Holstein discusses applies to selecting an on-premises solution as much as it applies to a Cloud solution. Dive in and understand the benefits and risks of each approach before making your decision.

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