In the last segment I defined cloud computing and gave you a few definitions and examples.  Now let’s dig into some of the myths and facts about cloud computing.

1. The first myth that business owners will not need servers ever again nor even an IT provider.  While it is true that cloud services can lower your IT costs dramatically, it will not remove the need for servers or IT support.

  • A recent survey found that 14% of SMB cloud adopters saw an IT expense reduction of 20% or more versus non SMB users who reported only a 3% reduction. (Cloud Core)
  • A well designed cloud implementation can reduce your IT expenses but you are likely to need a server for local needs.  A typical example of a cloud deployment for a 10-50 user office is as follows.
  • Microsoft Office 365 for hosted email solutions.
  • Microsoft Office 365 allows access to shared Sky drive for document storage. There is a limit to the data size on Sky drive so in order to maintain a good cost-effective solution, many companies will store data on the Sky drive that out-of-office users need to access.
  • Microsoft Office 365 has access to a Microsoft SharePoint.  This service is great for work group document sharing and project collaboration as well acting as a great Intranet for your company.
  • Carbonite backup for offsite backup of all data and files.
  • MacAfee spam filter to cut down on spam as well as provide an e-mail archive solution.
  • A local office file and print server to provide in house users logon and user credential control, as well as file share for large files or files only needed for inter-office users.
  • Local workstations and laptops to access all that data and work.

This solution is a very generic solution but, as you can see, it could be complicated to set-up and maintain.  Using this service, a business owner might easily save $10,000 or more in capital expense by not having to purchase all the licenses and servers that go along with these Cloud services.  However, the owner will still need a point person to manage and support the service.  This is where a knowledgeable IT support team is invaluable.

2 Another issue/myth that needs to be considered is security. Since employees and other users can access data remotely from their home or mobile devices, it is essential that employers create effective polices and documentation to avoid lost or stolen data.  Security systems also need to be set to block viruses and spyware from entering into these systems through employees’ devices.

A recent study by Trend Micro shows some of the risks in allowing users to access corporate data from home systems or mobile devices.

  • Over the past two years, 81% of organizations have suffered a data breach due to negligent or malicious employees or other insiders.  52% of this group said that their employees failed to update their antivirus/antimalware solutions
  • 35% said that losing laptops and/or other mobile devices was the root cause of most data breach incidents
  • 22% said “malicious employees or other insiders” were the root cause of data breach incidents.

3.  One last myth is that cloud computing is only for small companies.  It is true that cloud computing allows smaller companies to be more competitive versus their larger competitors.  But, those same large companies can utilize the same services.  The cost per user can become quite expensive for a large company but these firms may choose to implement a cloud solution per project or per division.  A project cloud solution is a great way to get outside contractors to collaborate on projects without giving them full access to your systems.

While there is obviously an important place for introducing cloud computing, it is not the panacea that some people may lead you to believe. Before getting involved, save both time and money by discussing your entire IT operation options with an experienced consultant or IT company. I have found that these discussions often lead to a number of operational improvements and savings before getting to the actual cloud discussion.