IT experts debate the pros and cons of the cloud

Most experts agree that the cloud is less costly and that more companies will adopt this technology.

It’s clear that over the past few years, businesses of all sizes have embraced cloud computing, and that cloud usage will continue to skyrocket. This is not least of all because of the cost savings.

Among several recent studies, a 2013 survey by North Bridge Venture Partners and GigaOM Research found that 75 percent of 855 respondents use the cloud in some fashion and that nearly half said their firms opted for the cloud because they could save money.

ThomasWatson

Thomas Watson, CEO and president of AMI, stresses the importance of cloud computing and says in-house IT is going away.

“Maybe today, in 2013, there’s a case for in-house IT, but that day is going away,” wrote Thomas Watson, CEO and president of AMI, a company that provides IT asset management to businesses, in a recent online discussion on the popular LinkedIn group for cloud computing. The thread, which drew more than 130 comments by last count, offered a glimpse into the thinking of IT decision makers. Many of them agreed that continued rise of the cloud was inevitable.

“Businesses are in the business of being in business, not IT,” wrote Watson. “[In a] few more years this issue goes away. There will be no reason to have your own data center and supporting staff. There’s just so much infrastructure costs that will vanish. Let businesses that focus on data center management manage data center infrastructures and lose your IT staff.”

The North Bridge/GigaOM study found unsurprisingly that companies are taking advantage of the cloud’s file sharing, system management, big data and business productivity capabilities. Nearly one in two respondents said their firms were switching to the cloud because they could save money. The participants included IT experts, cloud vendors and C-level executives.

The cloud and the size of the company

The LinkedIn thread stemmed from a March 2013 article by Brandon Butler, a writer at Network World, “Cost battle: Cloud computing vs. in-house IT.” The article sparked a lively debate among business leaders and cloud connoisseurs.

Randall Minter, a technology consultant and CTO of Qrimp, a software business, wrote that small companies presently benefit more from the cloud than larger ones. “In-house IT and cloud hosting serve different purposes,” he wrote. “For companies 1-5 employees strong, the cloud almost always wins.”

Larger companies still have to calculate the cost of switching to the cloud. “There’s a lot of math in marginal costs,” he said.

In an interview with Tech Page One, Minter expanded his comments, saying that, “smaller companies might be able to sign up for a piece of software and get everything they need,” and that they could even outsource tech support. “That wouldn’t work for a bigger company.”

The value of the company’s data

Despite evidence to the contrary, some organizations may still harbor concerns about the security of the cloud. Watson wrote that for some companies “having data in the hands of a third party is too big a risk.”

He said that this is particularly true for financial services organizations, despite the fact that in-house IT teams can also make mistakes that compromise data security.

“These institutions are going to have to see that the cloud has a track record of delivering services securely over a certain amount of time,” Watson says. “[The cloud providers need to] deliver transparency and auditing to the customers so that the customers can understand the security infrastructures in place.”

He continues, “It’s going to take some time for companies successfully running services in the cloud and cloud providers doing market education and being transparent about how they manage information securely.”

Kylie Jane Wakefield
Kylie Jane Wakefield is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. She writes for traditional media outlets and content marketing companies including Time Out New York & LA, Contently, The Jewish Journal of LA, Los Angeles Downtown News and the Baltimore CityPaper.
Kylie Jane Wakefield
Tags: Cloud Computing,Data Center,IT Security,Technology
  • r0b50

    Though resource-sharing cloud designs are going to become standard, don’t be surprised to see a silo-by-country design emerge.
    I find the security and legal protections of a private-cloud segmented by regions with similar legal frameworks much more likely as the decade moves on.