From all of the attention in the media, it is obvious that cloud computing remains one of the most popular technology trends for businesses. As with all new technologies, it helps to ask: “Are there benefits here for me or is this just hype?”
Let’s start with a definition. Wikipedia defines cloud computing as:
Cloud computing is a metaphor … for the delivery of computing requirements as a service to a heterogeneous community of end-recipients. The term cloud theoretically signifies abstraction of technology, resources and its location that are very vital in building integrated computing infrastructure…
For most of our clients, we believe the potential benefits from cloud computing revolve around the issue of infrastructure availability. Do you have easy access to all the computer networking capabilities and support you need? How you answer this question will decide how much you should consider using cloud computing. Let’s illustrate this point with two extreme scenarios:
- Complete Infrastructure in Place – If you are an established family office or an accounting firm, you may already have your servers in place and have access to personnel who maintain those servers for you. If your support personnel are knowledgeable, they can provide all the capabilities you need and will be very responsive because they work directly for you. They will have procedures in place for backup and replacing faulty hardware. In this case, cloud computing offers you no benefits. In fact, you may find it lowers the level of service you receive. As a customer of a cloud service, you are just one of hundreds of clients.
- No IT Support in Place – If your office is just starting up, you may not have any support services in place for Information Technology (IT). You may want to get started fast and have maximum flexibility to change your IT structure as you grow. In this case, cloud computing is most attractive. With nothing more than an Internet connection, you can easily have access to many powerful servers complete with all the support services such as back up and operating system maintenance.
Your situation may fall somewhere between these two extremes. You may have some on-premise servers but not access to strong, complete IT services. Here the answer lies in which direction do you want to go. The hybrid approach is often not as effective as being on either end of the spectrum. Decide which way you believe you are moving for the future. Are you moving to more in-house or more outsourced support? Your answer to this decision will guide you to move toward one or the other of the situations described above.
Often the question of where the hardware is located or who owns it is less important than who is providing the support you need to accomplish your mission. The right support personnel, whether in-house or on contract, will find the best solution for you and be there to make sure you are satisfied with how it works and what it costs.
At Financial Navigator we support both in-house and cloud-based installations of our software. We believe our clients should have the setup that works best for them. We try to help them decide the best implementation and then support it 100%.