Whether or not cloud computing makes good business sense isn’t really the question. The question should be more like, “In what ways does cloud computing make good business sense” in any given organization. While cloud computing isn’t always the best solution for every problem, it does address a number of significant issues facing IT today.
There are several areas you can make a business case for cloud computing, and there are also some challenges that face an IT department who attempts to implement cloud computing solutions.
Take, for example, the issue of deployment. A recent article in InfoWeek noted that a company like Eli Lilly can, using the cloud, deploy a new application server in a matter of minutes. Under older models, this kind of deployment would typically take more than 50 days, and require many hours of work from IT and other specialists. They can also put up a 64-note Linux cluster in about five minutes, where it used to take more than 100 days. The ability to rapidly deploy necessary computing solutions via the cloud is one of the most compelling reasons to implement cloud computing, and one of the ways that cloud computing makes good business sense.
There are other business benefits to cloud computing, as well. Using service providers in a cloud computing model reduces, from day one, many capital expenditures. Rather than having to budget large chunks of money on servers and infrastructure, not to mention specialized personnel to handle those servers and infrastructure, a company can bring a solution with very little upfront investment. This increases ROI from the start.
It’s in the area of personnel and training issues that cloud computing really shines, however. Cloud computing solutions let you have access to true experts. These aren’t your own staff who went to a two-day training seminar on how to use a new solution. These are dedicated personnel who know the solution backwards and forwards, in and out, because it’s what they do all day every day. No matter how competent your own staff may (and should) be, there’s no replacement for a dedicated support infrastructure.
Provisioning is another area in which cloud computing makes good business sense. When you use a cloud computing model with Service Level Agreements (SLAs) from your service provider, you don’t have to worry about reconfiguring your infrastructure on the fly to meet immediate demands. Instead, the service provider deals with allocation and provisioning so that you don’t have to.
Cloud Computing Challenges
The biggest downside to cloud computing is its barrier to entry. This barrier to entry isn’t financial, however, it’s often social. You need to be able to not only convince your company that cloud computing is a worthwhile, reliable and even beneficial solution, you also have to deal with implementation. Still, if you can overcome the cultural hurdles, you can begin to present your business case and increase your IT’s overall productivity and effectiveness.
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