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During the past week I have been asked several times about the pros and cons of using Cloud applications and storage. As the complexity and cost of I.T. infrastructure and support increases many organisations are looking at how Cloud services can reduce complexity and cost without compromising their architectural frameworks.

Cloud is becoming an option for small, medium and large enterprises for different reasons. Recent research by IDC stated that in 2011 20% of organisations were using some form of Cloud service with 32% planning to use it within the next twelve months and 41% planning to use it at some point in the future. So this indicates that most businesses are thinking about how it is deployed and how it fits with their business requirements.

Some of the benefits of Cloud:

  • There is limited or no capital expenditure required (depending on the model). Typically software as a service and storage as a service require no capital outlay, you pay for what you use.
  • Data and applications can be accessed via the web.
  • Data and applications can be accessed via multiple device types, ideal for mobile users.
  • It is a good option for off-site archiving and storage.

Some of the concerns of Cloud:

  • You don’t have control over where your data is stored. This may be an issue if you have client confidentiality agreements in place that demand specific controls over data and information.
  • Applications are typically offered in a base state meaning that they cannot be customised to suit specific requirements.
  • You have no con trol over service interruptions and downtime.
  • Application integration between in-house and Cloud based applications.

Some things to think about when assessing how Cloud fits with your architecture:

  • Technology infrastructure standards and location.
  • ISP services and bandwidth.
  • Application integration and workflow requirements.
  • Security and access.
  • Availability and redundancy.
  • Backups and recovery.
  • Governance and change management.
  • Encryption.
  • Service Level Agreements.

There are numerous Cloud and hosting options available. By looking at the impact on your current enterprise architecture and how the pieces fit together you will minimise potential risk.

If you need assistance with looking at the impact of Cloud on your current enterprise or information architecture you can contact the Realising-Potential team via our website.