If you've been thinking about bringing your cloud in-house, make sure you've considered the potential downsides of that approach -- as well as some of the benefits outsourcing might offer.
I recently offered 10 reasons why you should keep your cloud in-house Many companies feel strongly about keeping that service within the walls of the office. But if you're on the fence, it's wise to look at both sides of the issue before making such a game-changing decision.
It's the cloud. What was once considered an unknown, intangible technology is now a solid service that organizations have come to rely upon. But should you outsource this business-critical service? This time around, let's examine 10 reasons why you should.
Many businesses simply don't have the cash on hand for a one-time payment large enough to bring the cloud in-house. This cost would include hardware, software (if not going open source), a larger data pipe -- it all adds up. For those organizations, the idea of using a host means a much lower up-front cost. You'll be paying a monthly fee for the life of your cloud. But if you can't pony up the thousands of dollars up front, this might be the wisest option that will get you the most cloud for your buck.
Do you have the level of security that Google, Amazon, or any of the other, bigger, cloud providers do? Yes, it does mean that the safety of your company data could be in the hands of a third-party solution -- but isn't that the case anyway? As it stands, you're already relying on companies like Microsoft to keep your data safe. In most cases, your data is probably more secure when trusted to the likes of big companies like Google and Amazon.
If you can't provide failover for your cloud, your best bet is to outsource it. The last thing you need is to have employees (or worse, owners) out and about and unable to reach the cloud data. If this is even remotely a concern, the outsourcing of your cloud is probably the best decision. With most cloud services, you can rest assured that they have put plenty of cash and effort into making sure uptime is as high as possible. If you can't offer that same level of reliability, outsource.
Do you have staff with the training to not only maintain, but build a cloud environment? It's not as easy as sharing a directory on a server. A cloud topology is a specialized area, and if you don't have staff that can build and manage a cloud, your best bet is to outsource. Sure, you might have one or two IT staff members with the skill to set this up. But do you want to take them off their normal projects and have them on permanent "cloud duty"?
Many cloud services do not just offer sync and storage. Some, such as Google and Zoho, also offer plenty of applications and services that could greatly benefit your company. If you house your cloud, you most likely won't benefit from such services and applications. Zoho alone offers add-ons to the standard cloud that you won't find anywhere else.
If you host your cloud, you're dependent upon the pipe going into your business as well as the ability of your staff to keep the service running while keeping your network secure. Most likely you're already working with a VPN -- will that cloud interfere with it? Will the cloud fubar the shared directories and drives on your network? These are all questions that become moot when the cloud is outsourced.
Do you have a data pipe that can handle the incoming traffic as well as a rack to hold your servers? Do you have a cooling infrastructure to keep your cloud running smoothly? Do you have backup generators and fire protection? Probably not. If you're serious about your cloud, these are things you'll need. The best route to a cooled, protected cloud rack? Outsource.
Have you ever thought about what it would take to relocate or co-locate your business? If you outsource your cloud, this task is made easier simply because, even during the move, your employees will have continued access to the data in the cloud. If you use a service like Google Apps or Zoho, employees can even continue working while your company is in the process of relocating. Even though you may not be considering a move at the moment, you never know what the future holds.
Does your building have the necessary power to run a data center? Is the power clean? Does it run reliably? If not, you should seriously consider outsourcing your cloud. The last thing you need is to deal with a power outage on a cloud. Not only are you cutting the umbilical to data that many users access, you're also running the risk of losing that data. On top of that, can you afford to pay the extra cost to run the necessary power for these servers (or the extra monthly charges to your electricity bill)? They might seem like silly questions now... but it all adds up in the end.
Do you have the staff to support your cloud or would you rather enjoy the security of knowing that if something goes wrong, you have a dedicated support staff for your cloud? By not having to funnel your current staff to yet another project, you don't have to worry about either hiring more staff or maxing out your current staff so they can't complete their regular workload.
Pros and cons
Ultimately, the decision must come down to what is best for the company. There are many factors involved, but if you go through this list and still feel confident that you can keep your cloud in-house, I wholeheartedly would support that decision. But if this list gives you pause, make sure you carefully evaluate the pros and cons. Make a wise decision on your cloud and it will pay you back over and over.
- Executive's Guide to Best Practices in SaaS and the Cloud (PDF)
- Cloud: How to do SaaS right (ZDNet feature page)