The word “cloud” is thrown around today like the word “green” was about 5 years ago. With all that background noise, it becomes a problem to discern whether or not this technology is beneficial for an organization, or just another craze. To confuse issues more, there is rampant “cloud washing,” wherein products that are not cloud native are being branded as such to garner attention.

Like most things, when getting into a conversation around cloud computing, it is best to have a solid foundation. To build that core here we are going to subscribe to the following simplified definition:

Cloud is computing capability delivered over a network, as a service, not a product. From here, the conversation can quickly ensue.

In the end, we aren’t talking about anything radical. The important part is to realize it’s not “something,” but everything, just in a different delivery model. When I say everything, I’m talking about the services that IT commonly delivers today.

Let’s go over a few:

  • Endpoint Protection
  • Backup
  • Office Productivity
  • Email
  • Mobile Device Management (MDM)
  • VoIP
  • Desktop Management
  • Storage
  • Security
  • and more 

The list can go on and on, and can be bifurcated to even more detailed layers when talking about most services. The takeaway is that it can be another option when considering services you deliver.

Cloud’s Big Benefit: Time

IT has gone through many cycles over the last 50 years, including transitioning between centralized and decentralized, and contemplating whether to build in-house or buy out of house. The biggest change to occur – one that is heavily dealt with today – is the transition from being a cost savings group to a cost source.

Many of the services IT originally delivered (personal computing, email, print and file services) brought huge economic savings into organizations and could benefit the bottom line. Today, however, IT is asked to do more with less. At some point, you cannot drive hard costs any lower, and still deliver the services your organization needs to thrive.

So how can cloud computing help? Being forced into this corner you have to consider the opportunity cost of delivering a Service in a certain way. Cloud can lower that cost, not always by lowering hard costs, but by giving you the one thing you are likely short on – Time.

Time-Saving Example

Let’s take one of the examples from above. Almost all companies provide an endpoint protection service for security. Let’s say that ongoing licensing renewals cost $2,000 a year. Most organizations look at that as the “cost” of providing anti-virus (AV) service. If you look at a cloud-based solution and it costs you $1,950 – is it worth it to save a few bucks? I think when you really look, the answer is yes.

We can consider the infrastructure costs like power and cooling, but those would be tough to justify for just one service like this. So let’s talk about what else goes into providing that service that is very real and tangible to IT professionals.

First, you need a machine, whether physical or virtual, to host and run the application. You have to maintain that hardware, install an OS, update patches on the OS, and that is all before you touch the application. Once you do, you have to update the AV definitions, update the engine, plan for larger updates and outages. All of these things add up to time. Will this one application change your organization? No, but it will give you or your staff a few minutes a day, maybe a few hours a month. That adds up to a few days over a year – for one service!

Pick a service, ANY SERVICE! There is potential to deliver the same service, many times from the same provider, at the same price (or less), with the benefit of gaining time. At the end of the day, IT can’t be a super hero for everything, but with new as-a-Service offerings through cloud computing, IT can focus on driving the business rather than just keeping the lights on.

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