One of the most common questions we run into when dealing with prospective new clients is whether they should move to the cloud or not. Sounds like an easy question/answer but it is not always black and white. In an ideal world, cloud computing would be a fit for everyone, but I am here to tell you it is not. You have to consider many factors when moving to the cloud and if it is the right fit for your organization. Things that need to be accounted for are the overall size of your data, security, and cost to name a few. In the IT industry, people love to get stuck on buzz words like “cloud” without really understanding the depth and impact that is required to implement. What it really comes down to is what works best for that individual business.
I know most IT companies out there are always going to steer their clients in one direction or another based on that IT company’s comfort level with certain technologies and potential profitability. Migrating to an incorrect solution will prove to be both costly and can set a company back many years. Luckily there are other options out there that can be both beneficial and financially sound. One of those options that almost every business can take advantage of is to move into more of a hybrid cloud environment.
Now let’s talk about what the cloud really means. Cloud computing is essentially having your data stored in a remote location that can be accessed from multiple locations. People are often surprised to learn that such things like Gmail, office 365 and QuickBooks online are considered clouds. I think most people think of cloud computing as paying big dollars to store your valuable company data on servers somewhere else. Which it can be but in some cases, clouds can be very cost effective. Not only are there varying versions of cloud computing but many different ways you can leverage that data in the cloud. Some of the most common options are to use web-based applications that are stored remotely, using remote desktop services/published applications or pay to store data on another company’s servers. All of these options can be beneficial if and only if they are the right fit for your organization.
We recently brought a small manufacturing company on as a client that had already had proposals from multiple other IT service providers. Essentially this company was only using QuickBooks online, email, file sharing, and pc based graphics applications.
One of the other IT companies quoted them a new server and migration that was going to cost a lot for an organization of this size. The server solution was not the right choice because of the incredibly high capital expenditure and the amount of time and money to backup, update and maintain the new system going forward.
Another company quoted a full remote desktop solution that was going to be an expensive operational cost and a poor fit for a manufacturing company. Remote desktop-based solutions for manufacturing companies are a poor fit because they use a great deal of visually intensive programs like AutoCAD and adobe creative suite; plus they have integrations with equipment used out on the shop floor.
Even though both of those solutions were costly and a poor fit for this particular organization, it took a great deal of explanation and several conversations to get them to understand why our much cheaper and more efficient proposed solution was the best fit for them. Our solution was to move them to Office 365 and implement a web-based file sharing platform because they were already using QuickBooks online.
Ultimately, we were able to win them over by getting them to understand this solution was in their best interest and not ours. Being a VAR, we would have made more money by selling them a server and being a cloud solutions provider, we would have made substantially more money by hosting their servers in our datacenter. What we were proposing was much less beneficial for our organization but the right solution for them.
Changing the way your company operates can be a daunting task. You have to consider all the options and potential implications when deciding what the right fit is especially if you are a small company without an IT professional on staff. My suggestion would be to do your homework. Get second and third opinions, ask around and make sure your IT company has your best interest at heart.