Business owners need to beware working with their head in the clouds

By Gary David Smith

Much talked about and little understood, Cloud Computing has enjoyed more than its fair share of media coverage in recent years. But whilst the ‘experts’ wax lyrical about the benefits of the Cloud there’s a growing army of critics who see a plethora of drawbacks for many businesses which are just not yet ready for Cloud computing.

Images of a great mystical server in the sky along with reams of technical jargon make it difficult for the majority of non-technical, IT-averse SME’s to make head or tail of the benefits let alone the drawbacks of this new way of working.

Inevitably, there are security issues associated by having your company’s data hosted by a third party. Sony, NASA, Citigroup, the FBI and British and French treasuries all made the headlines in the last couple of years due to breaches in data security.

There is also the risk of data loss from improper backups or system failures in a virtualised environment where the physical location of hardware and software is unknown.

The Cloud could prove to be perfect for start-up businesses beginning from a blank canvas, but for the established business which has – for example – ten years of data and thirty users spread over three sites the Cloud isn’t quite the magic potion that providers claim it to be.

The Cloud should part of an IT suite rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ magical solution. Prism currently supports over five thousand end users across more than one thousand businesses nationwide, and we can see that businesses are looking for efficiencies that can be gained through using certain aspects of Cloud Computing: they’re beginning to see Cloud Computing as a complimentary service to their business infrastructure, not a replacement for it.

There’s this misconception that the Cloud is all encompassing when actually it’s simply a case of a business’s licensing software being hosted elsewhere on a subscription payment model.

At Prism we are not against the Cloud but we believe that the correct way to go about offering this service is to pick the right elements of Cloud computing for the right businesses… it’s essentially about understanding why the business is moving some IT towards the Cloud and it’s about managing that businesses expectations.

No doubt many of the issues discussed will be addressed as Cloud computing matures and develops and for some businesses the benefits of the Cloud still outweigh these disadvantages. However businesses need a rounded picture before making costly decisions which will affect the accessibility and security of their data and move them a step further away from control of their business operations and dependent upon a Cloud Service Provider (CSP).

About the author

Gary David Smith is co-founder of Prism Total IT Solutions.

Prism IT Solutions has worked hard to build an enviable reputation as one of the UK’s premier outsourced IT providers. Formed in 2001 by Gary David Smith and Richard Alexander, the company’s very essence of their business is to provide IT services and solutions to clients across the UK.

With numerous award wins and professional accreditations, Prism IT Solutions believe in long term relationships with all clients, team members and suppliers, taking ownership of your IT requirements to exacting standards.

Prism IT Solutions is not the local PC shop or the "IT guy"; they are your strategic technology partner.

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