What are the real costs of cloud computing?


Cloud computing is the most affordable and powerful computing and networking solution but it is not without its qualms. While power can be increased while consuming less energy (annually) under cloud computing, and IT costs can be trimmed, we’re not talking about an autopilot system here. Yes, it’s true that the cloud offers incredible potential for savings in IT; you still have to remain somewhat vigilant and informed enough to make the correct decisions for your specific organization.

It’s would be counterintuitive to postpone a cloud transition because of financial concerns. For all intents and purposes, moving to the cloud is always going to be a more financially sound and technologically superior choice. There is a great deal of hard data which suggests that migrating to cloud computing is always going to yield excellent results; but once again, you need to carefully evaluate what you really need from it. Many people might not realize how important planning is to keeping cloud transition costs down. If you’re interested in maintaining your cloud budget, there are a few things you might need to explore and consider.

Testing new cloud services and components
While cloud computing is certainly “coming along” in terms of the development of infrastructure standards and federated rules for available services and apps, we have to keep in mind that it (cloud computing) is still young. The simple fact of the matter is that there are a number of outside services and components, including those being offered by some vendors, which occasionally require modification or debugging. Actual costs in this area can be attributed mostly to labor or time spent (and as we all know; in business, time is money).

Integration of 3rd part services and apps
New applications and services are going to emerge which your business will want to integrate into its cloud. However, some of these services and apps are not going to always be instantly compatible and may require some form of integration research or procedure; this is only going to become a more common occurrence as your experience with cloud computing grows. It’s not always a battle between individual components and the cloud infrastructure itself though; sometimes services and apps aren’t designed to work in tandem with one another. This shouldn’t deter businesses from steamrolling ahead into cloud computing however, workarounds as well as comprehensive solutions for incompatibility issues are always under development. For example, one proposed umbrella solution for the 3rd party cloud debacle is that of cloud federation. The concept of establishing federated clouds, which seeks to create a universal platform upon which all cloud applications and services can be incorporated, is still not ready to be implemented.  

Training and certifying your IT staff in various cloud computing disciplines
Arguably, one of the most overlooked (yet glaringly obvious) costs attributed to cloud computing is that of IT-related education and professional development. Let’s face it; running, maintaining, modifying, or even interacting with a cloud computing infrastructure on a technical level does require some specific expertise. Unless your IT staff is already certified in or familiar with the intricacies of cloud computing, they’re going to require some additional training. In fact, ensuring that your IT department is certified in one or more cloud disciplines is the best ways to ensure that issues and risks are avoided and future costs are suppressed. Online delivered e-learning and certification for cloud computing is actually very affordable and has been shown to increase the overall effectiveness and efficiency of IT by many times over.

Storage and Data Migration costs
Last but not least we have costs which are associated with data migration and storage. To say that this area of concern is potentially the priciest is an understatement. Moving large amounts of data alone can run up charges in the thousands of dollars. This is because there might be hidden costs and fees associated with bandwidth usage with certain cloud providers. In other words, make sure you evaluate all the details and fine print with regards to limits and charges associated with data migration; being mindful of this one thing can actually save your organization a fortune in the long run (without having to sacrifice capability).

Storage is also an area where costs can quickly escalate if you don’t plan ahead. Aside from costs incurred from simply tapping a public cloud for storage, it’s vital that you have an idea of how much data you will be accumulating at any given time. In other words, if you tend to collect much more data during certain times of the year, you might opt for solution which involves utilizing specific cloud provider services during those times of high-volume. Likewise, after things quiet down, your business can opt for cheaper, lower-volume storage solutions.

Don’t be afraid to jump into the cloud, but look before you leap
From a scientific perspective, transitioning to the cloud is one of the best decisions any business can make, especially right now. There are real quantifiable benefits associated with cloud computing that simply cannot and should not be overlooked due to unmitigated fears of uncertainty. You cannot eliminate all risks from IT, but with some careful planning you can minimize them so that their influence is greatly reduced. Cloud computing adoption is not something to fear, but it’s important that proper preparation be considered. Good decision making today will certainly help to curtail and eliminate future risks and costs.

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