If the cloud can save your organization money over the long run, you would be a dolt not to consider it. Assuming that it makes financial sense for you to move your organization to the cloud (which is becoming more and more the case these days), there are a few situations in which you would be better off not making the jump just yet.
1. Your business is seasonal or you have specific days of the month when your customer load and network traffic is very high.
I don’t have to tell any IT professional that with the cloud, you lose some direct control of your network and systems. I am careful to say “some”, because even if you are entirely in the cloud, it’s still your job to manage your network. However, you don’t have “boots on the ground” if something goes wrong on your servers at the remote (cloud) location. You have given up some control and, potentially, some responsiveness. During periods of normal network traffic, that’s probably not horrible in most cases. If you spot a problem and figure out that something went down, you get on the phone and/or Instant Messaging and work with the local care-takers to fix the problem. But if you are an Accounting firm, for example, that does most of your work — and makes the majority of your income — during the months of March and April, and something goes wrong at your cloud provider during your high-production time, you may find that the staff at the provider doesn’t have the same urgency that you do. Or, even if they do, they don’t have the manpower to drop everything and just fix your problem faster. Solution: Having said this, the truth is that this one can be overcome by finding the right cloud provider. The key here is to go over your special needs during certain time periods and get an agreement up front that they can and will accommodate you. If you are a seasonal business, make sure you do this as part of your selection process when selecting your cloud provider. If you are already on the cloud, meet with them on this point. If you don’t get what you need, begin the steps to take your business elsewhere.
2. You are a small organization that is not particularly on a lot of cyber-attacker radar screens and you have a pretty darn good fortress built around your network.
Here’s the deal: If you 1) are not an organization with a lot of financial, health or consumer personal data, 2) are small enough not to attract a lot of attention, and 3) have really sophisticated security that you constantly keep up to date, then you may actually be better off, security-wise, to keep things in house. Obviously anytime you store data anywhere connected to a network you run the risk of attacks. The problem with the cloud is that due to the volumes of data stored, these vendors are more frequently targets for hacking attacks. It’s easier to steal and disrupt in bulk. Most cloud vendors have top-notch security measures and procedures. They wouldn’t stay in business long if they didn’t. But as security becomes more sophisticated, so do cyber attacks. Additionally, instead of attempting to hack the vendor directly, cloud hackers will attempt to hack user accounts instead. Why try to hack the online bank when you can just phish users for protocol and passwords? The same will be true of cloud vendors. The bottom line is that if your company is relatively uninteresting to cyber-attackers (usually you have to be pretty small and not have a lot of the type of data they are looking for) and if you have a really good security expert on the payroll (really good), then keeping everything local may be the more optimum decision for you.
3. There is some aspect of your organization’s system that is unusual or esoteric that someone needs to personally keep a routine eye on.
It’s easy to underestimate the amount of work and knowledge required to handle something that you do regularly. Something that seems fairly under control often has all kinds of tiny nuances that you don’t give any thought to, and which rear their ugly heads when you try to get someone else to handle it.
If you have an ancient CRM or some system that is no longer supported by the manufacturer and that needs lots of personal love from an employee who has had years of experience with it, then it could be risky moving to the cloud (at least until you have replaced the ancient or quirky system).
4. You are in a location where you don’t have reliable high-speed Internet.
Notice that this has two criteria: Reliable and high-speed. For the most part, if your organization is located in or near a “first-world” city of any decent size, you are probably okay on this point. But don’t take it for granted. Check it out first. There are still plenty of places in the world, even in and around some U.S., European and Asian cities, where the Internet is either not reliable enough or not fast enough for your particular cloud needs. So now, I’ll address (but not answer) your next question: There is no way to make a general statement of a minimum bandwidth or Internet speed that one must have before one should consider the cloud. Can’t do it. There are a myriad of factors and a lot of it depends on how you set up your environment. It would take more than one article to cover that topic. Suffice to say that you should check this out with an expert (or three) in this field, before making big cloud plans. This list is not meant to be exhaustive. No doubt there are other reasons for not joining the cloud revolution just yet. I only attempted to cover most common ones. And, more importantly, for each of these cloud-hindering situations, there are solutions. I would love to hear your take on this, and I’ll reply to your comments.
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