IT CloudThe world of technology can get pretty crowded with the latest trends, new consulting approaches, revolutionary development tools, expensive hardware and much more. The utilization of cloud computing is no different – there are numerous approaches and rationales surrounding this “hip” trend.

Before your business dives head first into the cloud, it might be a good idea to clear your head and take a close look at the essentials that are involved.

The Benefits

Hardware maintenance and responsibility is moved off site – you realize less energy consumption and floor space utilization, and you have the benefit of reduced resources to keep the hardware running.

Software upgrades and troubleshooting can be outsourced – this will allow your internal IT staff to focus more heavily on value-added business initiatives instead of maintaining existing applications.

Remote connectivity is much simpler – authorized users can access cloud applications while on the road, at home, or from the office without a problem.

The Risks

Security – some businesses are wary of cloud computing because of potential security risks. Cloud computing solutions can be extremely secure and meet or exceed virtually all compliance requirements.

Outsourcing – trusting a third party to maintain your “stuff” can be a bit disconcerting for some business leaders. By carefully reviewing your service level agreement (SLA) you can set specific standards that your cloud service providers must meet in order to retain your business.

The Steps

First, consider what systems or applications would be a good candidate for migrating to the cloud.  This could be your sales force automation, customer relationship management, or product information management systems.

Next carefully review your current specifications. Note the number of users that access the system, the disk storage requirements, performance expectations and software licensing agreements. All of this will factor into the cost of the cloud services.

Estimate your future growth requirements for the applications. Consider a one year growth plan as well as a three year growth strategy to make sure the right amount of scale is factored into the cloud service agreement.

Evaluate your current costs to maintain the application in-house. Calculate your hardware, energy expense, human resources and other factors to properly compare to the cloud computing option.

When taking a hard look at your cloud computing options, it is best to work with a knowledgeable team who can provide you with an objective analysis and advise you on your specific business choices. Limelight has the expertise to review your current IT environments and recommend a path on how to migrate to the cloud for your business.

Photo: Anoop Negi