The most common selling points of cloud solutions are presented with important considerations that you should give as you consider outsourcing to this type of vendor.
- [Presenter] Sometimes the right solution is not to buy a solution at all but to subscribe to someone else's solution. Everyone that leases a building or pays monthly for electricity has already embraced this concept. Can you imagine factories in the Industrial Revolution asking, "Is it a good idea for us to outsource our electricity needs? Electricity is too important to our everyday operation. Can we trust someone to provide that if they aren't fully invested in what we're trying to do?" But eventually they went along with the idea.
They even gave electricity providers a clever nickname. They called them "the Grid." And from private homes to massive enterprises, we've been getting our electricity from the grid ever since. The same conversation is being had in companies everywhere when it comes to aspects of their IT functions. And again, we gave it a name. We have the grid for our electricity. And for IT, we have "the Cloud." Now, to be fair, the available options for the cloud go far beyond simply determining how much at a time or what voltage.
And I suppose most companies don't put proprietary information on the electrical grid. So the questions become, "Should I use the cloud, and for what?" "Whose cloud should I use?" Or, "Could I just build my own cloud and get the same benefits?" And those are the right questions. They should be discussed with the IT strategist. The key benefits of cloud services include highly available IT that can be reached from anywhere on the Internet, sort of.
Another advantage is the ability to transfer the responsibility of supporting the technology to someone else, sort of. Those, along with all the reasons you may consider outsourcing any aspect of your business, can be satisfied by cloud computing services, sort of. Was that subtle enough? Sort of? These are only benefits if you can use them. Here's the analysis that you need to conduct to determine what types of cloud services will serve your strategic mission.
How available are you and how available do you need to be? Having a resource accessible over the Internet is important if you have multiple branch locations or if employees need to telecommute. It's less important if all the work is designed to happen within the office. How connected are your users? In the age of smartphones and Wifi in every coffee shop and most airplanes, it would seem that people can access the Internet from wherever they are.
But I've worked with manufacturing companies in several different states. And I've found that there are a lot of industrial complexes with no good internet options. A cloud-based file system may not be the best option if the main office can't reliably use it. And how accessible does your information need to be? Almost everyone has outsourced their public website to the cloud. Because that fits the most obvious profile of a cloud resource.
It needs to be accessible to as many people in as many locations as possible. Access to the manufacturing process documents may not improve by placing them in the cloud when the engineers and the fabricators already work within the same building. Other benefits, like high reliability are good reasons to consider using the cloud. Using virtual machines and other technology, they can provide very high uptime guarantees. 99.99% uptime means less than an hour of downtime each year.
If your office is able to connect to these services, this will sound attractive. Talk to your IT strategist about what your uptime needs really are and how to best achieve them. I had a medical office call my IT service to find out why their server was down. It turns out they called me three days after the server had crashed. My guess is, 99.99% uptime was not a pressing need for that office. Now, I've given some extreme examples as well as some practical situations that I hope will start the conversation about cloud computing for your business.
Like everything else, there are many features that are easy to advertise. If one or more of them supports your strategy, maybe it's time to stop generating all of your own electricity.
- Including IT in strategy
- What does IT bring to strategy?
- Communicating the big picture
- Selecting and evaluating the effectiveness of training and development activities
- Choosing the right hardware, platforms, and applications
- Who owns the devices?
- Site planning
- External and internal connectivity