While cloud computing has brought several benefits to the way small businesses (and non-profits alike) operate, there are some disadvantages to consider prior to becoming completely dependent on the cloud.
Perhaps the most well know concern end-users face when considering cloud migrations involve data sovereignty. As these concerns have been addressed in previous posts, we will focus here within, on other roadblocks that operating on cloud-based technology can present.
When looking for ways to operate faster, better and cheaper, it’s important to ensure cloud computing is leveraged with full understanding of potential consequences. Security, upgrades and maintenance are now critical tasks that the cloud provider will be accountable for.
1. Data Costs and Lock-In
Migrating into the cloud can be easier than migrating out if it. Moving your business into a cloud-based solution is often offered as a free service. However, when it comes to outbound data transfers, vendors tend to charge fees on a per GB basis (over the basic monthly allowance) which can quickly add up. Some cloud applications do not allow easy transfer of information into other systems. This could result in you and your data inadvertently becoming a lifetime customer.
2. Inaccessibility and Support
When it comes to receiving support for issues encountered using cloud-based services, who do users contact? Something as simple as needing a password reset to unlock an account could take several weeks as vendors verify your identity and action the request. Several support packages offered by cloud vendors do not include phone support; frustrating end users as they wait for an acknowledgement that their request was even properly received.
When moving critical operating components to cloud services investigate the impact outages can have on daily work functions. Outages have and will likely continue to occur due to a variety of factors including updates, maintenance and human error.
Consider a well-publicized Amazon outage. The incident shook the industry- when an engineer at Amazon Web services (owner of roughly a third of global cloud market) typed an incorrect command; the internet was down for hours.
Microsoft Office365 also suffered outages due to problems authenticating users, resulting in customers being locked out of their OneDrive Storage, Outlook email and Skype collaboration features; undoubtedly affecting business operations.
How long can your business function without access to these services? Considering how critical the impact would be on your business. How much your organization depends on these tools may determine if you should be using cloud vs. on-premise versions of software tools.
4. Security and Data Breaches
Major data leaks are a prime example of how trusting your business with a third-party cloud vendor critical data comes with inherent risk. In another Amazon Web Services mishap, a misconfigured server resulted in the exposure of sensitive data from 123 million American households.
While security and data breaches are not exclusive to cloud vendors, your organization’s security strategy should involve reducing the overall threat landscape.
Things To Consider
Several software companies are moving to the cloud, so in the near future you may find discovering technology solutions that are not cloud-based becomes more challenging. It is still best practice to have an IT service provider monitoring and managing your cloud-based applications. Having an IT provider that understands the migration process, integration with other network systems, who can also provide training and liaison for support or assist in the smooth transition. Take for example Microsoft’s Office365. If the trial subscription expires with no paid version taking its place (as could easily happened without dedicated management) not only will your e-mail disappear, but the entire business account will disappear with it, leaving no proof to you, or to Microsoft support, that it ever existed. It’s critical to ensure that for every service migrating to the cloud, there is a corresponding backup service in place, as to not leave anything to chance.
While no vendor or solution is likely to address all your concerns, it is important to evaluate real-time response rates to outages that occur. Cloud-based software is a great way to cope with productivity and remote access requirements, but must be migrated to strategically as to mitigate the negative impact roadblocks may present to your business.