Cloud Migration - The Pros and Cons
Should My Business Embrace The Cloud?
Do you need a Cloud application developer that can migrate your software systems to ‘The Cloud’? Here we look at the benefits ‘Cloud Migration’ offers the average organisation.
Most businesses today, both large and small, still run on I.T. services and resources located on the premises, with software running on servers physically located within the organisation or its own data centre.
However, the increasing power of the internet and telecommunications have enabled the potential for organisations to adopt a smaller I.T. footprint where the servers – and the software – are not in the office but “out there somewhere” in a data centre on the internet. This is called “cloud computing”.
To use cloud-based software requires no change to the computers on the desktop as long as they are running a standard internet browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari or Firefox. But, if all software is in the Cloud, then a business potentially needs no physical server, computer hardware, or staff, to maintain it. This is one obvious benefit of switching to the Cloud, but what are the other benefits and risks? There are certainly a number of common worries that we encounter when discussing cloud computing with our customers. These include performance, availability and security.
Cloud Performance and Availability
The Cloud model is obviously predicated on the availability of a reliable, fast internet connection. While many business locations now have FTTC (“fibre”) broadband available to them, some are still reliant on traditional Broadband, or even ISDN, connectivity. While this may be good enough for everyday Internet browsing and e‐mail requirements, a “slow” connection will be a concern if the business has mission critical software applications in the Cloud – put bluntly, if the internet connection fails, business stops. However, “offline” applications are possible where work can continue without the internet and the application synchronises data with the online database when the connection returns.
Security is often a big concern, especially when it comes to corporate data. There is a perceived high risk that if data is not locked down inside an organisation’s bricks and mortar it will be at risk to hackers or simply to loss due to system failure or failure of the backup policy. The reality is the opposite. If hosted by a reputable Cloud provider, there is no realistic possibility of critical data loss – well beyond six sigma safety certainly.
The Cloud uses “virtual machines” so that they are immune to computing hardware problems ; if a server “goes down” a replacement will fire up within seconds; users will probably not even notice. Whole data centres are mirrored, so that even a large‐scale terrorist attack or “act of God” would be unlikely to affect system availability or data. Backups and restores, and operating system updates, are also handled by the Cloud provider, again reducing the risk of problems compared to the traditional computing environment. Blueberry recommends the Amazon cloud. Amazon is certified to ISO27001 security standards.
Another benefit of Cloud‐based software applications is that it is easier to make them available to your distributed, mobile workforce. Because an Internet connection is all that is needed, applications can be accessed from any device in any location. With over 50% of all work now done on mobile devices, this is certainly food for thought!
How do the relative costs measure up? Obviously, there are savings from reduced in‐house computer hardware and maintenance. Cloud services are offered on a per server per month basis, depending on the amount of power required (CPU and memory). Standard software packages are typically priced on a “per user per month” basis in the Cloud – for example, a CRM service can cost anywhere from £5 per user per month (pupm) up to £250 pupm. A cost of £40 pupm would be typical for an average small business.
If you are having a bespoke software application built, there will likely be a capital cost and then a recurring support and maintenance fee, which can make some clients feel tied to their third party developer. Blueberry, on the other hand, hands over the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and software source code to you on project completion, leaving you free to decide who provides your future servicing needs (obviously we hope you’ll ask Blueberry to continue providing support!).
Increasingly, if you want to adopt a standard software package, like a CRM or an accounts package, options are becoming increasingly limited for non-Cloud organisations. Off-the-shelf software suppliers are keen to bring you into their Cloud because the cost of support and maintenance to them is much lower – and they hope to suck you in to long‐term contracts with recurring “per user” monthly payments.
Blueberry provides impartial advice about embracing the Cloud. We will provide you with the information you need to make decisions – and we deliver both Cloud and desktop applications.