Cloud computing, in its typical form, offers valuable business advantages, but it also poses some significant limitations and unexpected costs that should be thoughtfully considered before “taking the plunge” to move toward Cloud services. Among the most prominent considerations in this regard is the increased fragmentation of IT services as well as the inherent bandwidth and reliability limitations of your Internet connection.
Limitation #1: Fragmentation of Services – the dilemma of Internet-delivered cloud computing
The productivity and cost benefits offered by cloud computing are counter-balanced by the added complexity it brings to managing your network. Now, instead of one vendor, your company has multiple vendors to deal with.
In the Cloud, your network becomes de-centralized and more difficult to manage. The current model for cloud computing is comprised of multiple Internet-based application providers hosting specific programs and data for your company on their servers. Your company accesses applications over an Internet connection, along with all the data created using their applications, not yours. You have turned over specific apps into the hands of outside providers. But you still have the responsibility to manage your own network components such as your router and firewall, Internet circuit, PCs and laptops, any servers still at your location, networked printers, copiers, fax machines, wireless access points, iPhones, iPads, BlackBerry devices, SmartPhones, and PDAs.
These Cloud applications providers host specific programs for you and can’t help your company with all of the other components and devices that are part of your network. They can only help you with the specific programs they’re hosting. So, by outsourcing certain software and functionality to Cloud application providers in an effort to reduce the complexity of your IT systems, you’ve actually increased that complexity. By transferring only specific services and functionality to hosted service providers, your company becomes mired down in finger pointing and uncertainty, especially when it comes to getting important technical problems and issues resolved. This will ultimately will increase the costs of managing your IT systems.
Your business needs only “one throat to choke,” not several, when your network isn’t working properly and your employees are losing productive hours while waiting for the technical problems to be resolved.
Simpler is better. The greatest efficiencies come with increased centralization of IT systems and management processes, not with more decentralization.
Limitation #2: Internet Bandwidth
With applications delivered by cloud computing, your network will perform only as fast as your Internet connection will allow.
But your Internet connection is far slower than the existing connection between internal servers and workstations in your office.
If you have a T1 for Internet access, your Local Area Network, that connects everything together at your office campus, is 650 times faster than your Internet connection! There’s simply no way to make programs and data access perform as quickly over a slow connection.
Limitation #3: Internet Circuit Reliability (or lack thereof)
Depending entirely on your Internet connection to access certain business-critical programs and data is risky, especially when your Internet connection goes down. When the connection to the Internet is lost, so does productivity. Your staff cannot access important programs and data.
There are complex and costly ways to address this potential crisis in advance – like installing and paying monthly fees for a second high-speed Internet connection, plus a second router and firewall, plus a system to provide automatic failover if your primary circuit goes dark. This is another example of increasing complexity and extra costs to your network in one area to decrease complexity, headaches and expenses in other areas.
The Answer: Local Cloud Computing
The current version of cloud computing presents too many limitations and added complications. A better solution will provide the benefits of Cloud-hosted hardware and software by addressing the problems resulting from a) lost Internet connectivity and b) fragmentation of services.
Local Cloud Computing addresses these two key areas of improvement. First, it provides an on-site device that prevents interruptions to productivity when the Internet connection is disrupted. And secondly, it provides a local trusted advisor – a “boots on the ground” local IT provider – as a dedicated part of your business’s IT support team. This trusted local advisor is an essential element to helping your business navigate current technologies and leverage them to your company’s greatest advantage.