Business owners need to beware working with their head in the clouds

Is Cloud Computing the one-size-fits-all solution for business IT? Gary David Smith co-founder of Prism Total IT Solutions clears up some of the haziness surrounding the Cloud and says that key is to pick the right elements for the right business.

Much talked about and little understood, Cloud Computing has enjoyed more than its fair share of media coverage in recent years. But whilst the 'experts' wax lyrical about the benefits of the Cloud there's a growing army of critics who see a plethora of drawbacks for many businesses which are just not yet ready for Cloud computing.

Images of a great mystical server in the sky along with reams of technical jargon make it difficult for the majority of non-technical, IT-averse SME's to make head or tail of the benefits let alone the drawbacks of this new way of working.

Inevitably, there are security issues associated by having your company's data hosted by a third party. Sony, NASA, Citigroup, the FBI and British and French treasuries all made the headlines last year due to breaches in data security.

There is also the risk of data loss from improper backups or system failures in a virtualised environment where the physical location of hardware and software is unknown.

The Cloud could prove to be perfect for start-up businesses beginning from a blank canvas, but for the established business which has for example - ten years of data and thirty users spread over three sites the Cloud isn't quite the magic potion that providers claim it to be.  

The Cloud should part of an IT suite rather than a 'one-size-fits-all' magical solution. Prism currently supports over five thousand end users across more than one thousand businesses nationwide, and we can see that businesses are looking for efficiencies that can be gained through using certain aspects of Cloud Computing: they're beginning to see Cloud Computing as a complimentary service to their business infrastructure, not a replacement for it.

There's this misconception that the Cloud is all encompassing when actually it's simply a case of a business's licensing software being hosted elsewhere on a subscription payment model.

At Prism we are not against the Cloud but we believe that the correct way to go about offering this service is to pick the right elements of Cloud computing for the right's essentially about understanding why the business is moving some IT towards the Cloud and it's about managing that businesses expectations.

No doubt many of the issues discussed will be addressed as Cloud computing matures and develops and for some businesses the benefits of the Cloud still outweigh these disadvantages. However businesses need a rounded picture before making costly decisions which will affect the accessibility and security of their data and move them a step further away from control of their business operations and dependent upon a Cloud Service Provider (CSP).


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