Monday, August 20, 2012

A different way to think about “the cloud.”

The cloud (using servers, services, or applications located somewhere on the Internet - a.k.a the "cloud”) is a somewhat polarizing subject.  Many (but not all) IT folks are wary of it for varied reason (security concerns, implementation complexities, fears about what it will mean for their job).  Many executives and business owners are enthusiastic about it because of the many touted benefits (lower cost, better uptime, less day-to-day hassle). One reason for these differing feelings is that many view the cloud as an all-or-nothing proposition. It doesn't have to be this way.

I am not convinced we'll see great success in total cloud migration for the masses any time soon. In many cases the move to the cloud is better as a calculated, application-by-application endeavor - a "hybrid" approach, if you will - with some applications remaining in-house and some moved to the cloud.  Perhaps it’s cloud backup where you begin your migration.  Or maybe it's outsourcing your spam filtering or even your entire e-mail server. Perhaps it’s an online financial or line-of-business application.  

By choosing a specific area that makes sense for moving to the cloud (backup is a great first step), an organization can move, evaluate, and then plan the next step in its cloud migration.  This gradual migration approach permits IT to better address and get comfortable with security and other technical considerations.  It can also give management an opportunity to measure and assess each move before going “all-in.”  Finally, this gradual approach allows an organization’s culture to adjust, which just may be something that nobody is thinking about (but should be).

Craig Rhinehart, Director of IT Services