To cloud or not to cloud ? That is the question taking place across board rooms and corner offices all across the corporate world. As the benefits of a cloud computing architectural strategy become more and more clear to the people that write the checks and make the decisions, IT departments are being asked this question. To cloud or not to cloud … my email system ? my CRM system ? my proprietary database ? my HR system ? and all other systems that make an enterprise hum. The absolutely vividly clear without a doubt answer to this question is a RESOUNDING … it depends !! Ok, ok, ok, I took the easy way out but that’s the answer to give.
Although most suits, decision makers, and check writers like the idea of lowering total cost of ownership, not purchasing new equipment every few years, not maintaining a full time IT staff, not spending time chasing down the upgrade cycle, and all the other benefits that cloud computing enables for today’s enterprises, the decision to migrate certain systems to the cloud isn’t always so simple. I had the <begin quote> PLEASURE </end quote> of sitting in a meeting today with a client about migrating their enterprise search platform to the cloud. Not that I was counting the minutes and the seconds in the 45 minute cyclical back and forth conversation that took place but listening to the debate amongst their technical and business staff brought to light many of the issues that many companies face in making the cloud migration decision. This particular client is a multinational company with offices across the globe. For a variety of legal reasons, some of their data ABSOLUTELY CANNOT reside on US soil whatsoever. It’s not a technical restriction whatsoever but more so an issue of governance, policy, legalistic crapola and other very legitimate reasons that organizations wrestle with. Certainly there are cloud options that exist outside the boundaries of the United States but just be aware that this is an issue which many companies deal with.
Another issue is one of privacy and quite frankly “corporate paranoia”. Many companies with data that is highly confidential will quite simply absolutely NEVER feel safe and secure knowing that their most private R&D and sales data is residing somewhere out there on some computer in some network that they aren’t physically able to walk down the hall and touch. Although cloud service providers have gone through painstaking measures to guarantee that the massive amounts of data that they are entrusted with is as secure as Fort Knox, many companies will simply NEVER feel safe and secure letting some of their most confidential data out of the bounds of their own proprietary network that they control. This is likely one of the most convincing reasons to vote “thumbs down” on a decision to migrate certain data in certain systems into the cloud.
The decision to cloud or not to cloud will forever be a hybrid decision. For certain types of systems for certain companies lead by certain individuals who don’t suffer from corporate paranoia, migration to the cloud will be clear cut decision. For other more confidential systems however, that data will most likely always remain in-house. The cloud is here to stay and as time goes on, more and more companies will feel more and more comfortable migrating certain systems into the cloud. Just know, however, that this isn’t a one size fits all type of decision. What is good for the goose isn’t always necessary good for the gander, so we will be operating in a hybrid mode with some systems and data in the cloud and some data “at home”. How bout we coin a new phrase for such environments ? We’ll simply call it “Partly Cloudy” !!
So what are some factors you weigh in your “to cloud or not to cloud” decision ?