Cloud: The Most Overused Word in IT
by Michael Murphy
Despite its rise in techie vernacular and even pop culture, “the cloud” is not a one-size-fits-all solution to data management and applications. The right solution for any company is always what works best for their particular requirements.
With $13 billion spent on cloud computing last year and the global market for cloud equipment expected to eclipse $79 billion by 2018, it’s clear that many CIOs have their heads in the cloud. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Over 80% of companies saved money by using the cloud, roughly the same number saw improvements within the first six months of moving to it, and 32% of Americans believe it is the thing of the future.
However, as so many enterprises look ahead to what solutions the cloud might provide, they run the risk of neglecting what solutions they actually need. In our years as an adviser to our clients with data center and transport needs, we have found that the path toward a holistic, efficient and cost-effective network and data center infrastructure doesn’t start at the solution – it starts at the requirements. The only thing that should define the requirements is the company itself and its business objectives.
Rather than taking an outward view and getting caught up in the cloud momentum, companies are better off looking inward, looking into the inner-workings of their network to determine if what the network needs is best served by the cloud.
Timing is everything when it comes to researching, planning and implementing the right network solutions. An enterprise’s infrastructure requirements, budget limitations, expansion goals and traffic loads may be in one place on a certain day and in an entirely different place soon after. Amidst this dynamism and unpredictability, plugging in a cloud solution without the proper due diligence and holistic planning could lead to even more problems, inefficiency and taxed resources for the company.
By staying grounded and maintaining clear network requirements, goals and drivers as a top priority, organizations can find the most reliable and best-fit technology solutions no matter what, cloud or no cloud.
The answer to the cloud question may reside in a company’s personnel. What type of solution is the team able to integrate successfully, given the many priorities they have? As busy as your IT staff is running your IT functions and network, throwing the planning, pricing, and contracts of a cloud-based strategy onto their workload could spell trouble.
Sufficient evaluation of infrastructure requirements also involves companies looking at the capabilities of their staff, how they can best integrate the required network solutions, and if an expert, third-party perspective is needed to weigh the best-fit options.
Data management and application optimization can only go as far as the company budget will allow them to, which means that every penny counts when it comes to considering technology solutions. This makes jumping on buzzword solutions like the cloud all the more risky and makes backing the decision-making process with expert, in-depth research all the more important for enterprises. The potential cost savings from a cloud computing solution may fail to add up if that initial investment doesn’t lead to optimized performance.
If IT planners generate the process for finding technology solutions based off of their particular infrastructure’s requirements, they set themselves up to find solutions that not only meet their needs in terms of network performance but also when it comes to the bottom line.
Making the decision to move to the cloud isn’t just a decision businesses make to solve the issues of today – it’s one they’ve also planned to accommodate the changes of tomorrow. Thinking of a cloud or data strategy in this way, not as a one-time decision but as an ongoing need that will continue to evolve and encounter new obstacles, will help companies make better informed decisions on achieving their best-case infrastructure.
The numbers are up and the dollars are spent or planned, and it looks like the cloud is rolling in to stay. But that doesn’t mean the cloud is the be-all and end-all solution to optimizing environments. It just means that companies need to resist the urge to leap at the solutions provided by cloud computing and instead dictate the search for new technology based on their specific requirements, growth plan, budget and staffing.