Businesses of all sizes are moving to the cloud in droves, looking for flexible, cost-effective solutions that enable their operations to run more efficiently. This move by businesses to migrate their IT services, applications and infrastructure to a cloud-based architecture will cause market revenue to reach an estimated $174.2 billion this year, up 20 percent from $145.2 billion in 2013, according to new research from IHS Research. By 2017, enterprise spending on the cloud will amount to a projected $235.1 billion, IHS predicts.
But just as there are best practices to adopt when embracing cloud computing, there are also worst practices to avoid. Let’s take a look at some of the cloud-based decisions by businesses that simply do not pay off in the long run:
1. Jumping in too soon. It’s easy to get started in the cloud; in many cases it’s as simple as entering your credit card info. That’s great for experimenting, or even offloading some researching and development processes, but anything else requires homework – and sometimes a lot of it, especially if you’re planning to build enterprise-ready solutions in the cloud. Doing your research includes due diligence on security and regulatory requirements, understanding your company’s priorities, and knowing what you should and shouldn’t expect in terms of benefits.
2. Failing to plan for the unexpected. Yes, that’s an oxymoron, but how many disasters are really expected events? Clearly if your business is on the coast of Florida, you have a plan that involves hurricanes. But what about everyday events that can just as easily put you out of business for a day, a week, or a month? Cloud-based solutions should be incorporated immediately into your company’s overall disaster recovery plan.
3. Not understanding business needs before picking a vendor or hosting partner. Before selecting a partner, figure out what type of cloud makes sense for both the business problem you are trying to solve and your architectural standards. Potential questions might include the following:
- Are you looking for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)? Do you want to be free to code your applications in any language?
- Does platform-as-a-service (PaaS) make sense, and can you live with writing only in the code mandated by the platform?
- Do simple software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions adequately meet your needs? Maybe it’s a combination of these that best suits your business?
- What kind of redundancy will you need?
- Do you need virtual datacenters around the globe?
- Do you need a public cloud, private cloud or a combination of the two?
There are a lot of questions to answer before you choose a hosting partner or vendor.
4. Not evaluating skill sets. The cloud changes everything, or at least it might seem that way if you’re counting on the same employees to deploy, monitor and maintain your cloud-based applications and infrastructure. For some, the change will be easy; however, for others there will be a big adjustment period. IT staff will not only need to understand networking and security, but also distributed computing models and SOA Web architectures. Failure to recognize these changing needs in skill set is a recipe for disaster.
5. Using cost savings as your only justification. Moving applications to the cloud can result in significant cost savings for many companies, but cost should never be the only factor. Since it shifts IT from capital expenses to monthly subscription payments, the cloud may appear to be far more inexpensive up front. However, primary IT costs tend to remain constant, and companies that build software in the cloud may find it just as expensive or even more so to develop applications in a cloud-based environment.
The bottom line: Adopting bad cloud practices can be incredibly costly to your business. By understanding your requirements and doing your homework before signing on the dotted line, you’ll be well-positioned for success in the cloud.